Subject: TNI in Urgent Need of Reform

also: JP: Two faces of the TNI -- Sidoarjo and Koesmayadi

The Jakarta Post Monday, August 14, 2006


RI military in urgent need of reform

Hasballah Saad and Michael Shank, Washington DC

The United States Congress recently passed a contentious bill that allocates over US$6 million to Indonesia for military equipment and training in 2007. Two checks will be issued: $4.5 million under Congress' Foreign Military Financing program and $1.28 million under Congress' International Military Education and Training program. While these figures fall $2 million below the Bush Administration's request, they represent a multi-million dollar increase over 2006 totals.

The bill, passed by the U.S. House in June, sparked immediate controversy. Decried as one of the world's most egregious militaries, Indonesian troops have a reputation for being abusive, corrupt and largely above the law. With such a funding increase from Washington, one expects to hear of significant improvements in Indonesia military's ethical standards and practices. But that is far from the case.

In the months preceding the bill, Indonesia -- a critical ally in the U.S.-led "war on terror" -- was busy hosting notables as they congratulated the nation's democratic progress. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz made high-profile visits to laud the "vibrant democracy" and "clean government". With the largest Muslim population of any nation worldwide, Indonesia received and will continue to receive special attention from Washington. Congress' $6 million is the latest manifestation of this commitment.

But where Congress falls short is in fully understanding Indonesia's people and the dynamics on the ground. If Congress wants to ensure that the Muslim populace remains peaceful and democratic, refraining from terrorist-like behavior, then they selected the wrong method and financed the wrong government agency.

Indonesians protest the military, which critics once dubbed "Exxon's Army", on a daily basis, criticizing its widespread corruption (from poorly managed self-financing policies) and its abusive security services which it contracts to mining and logging companies -- companies accused of pillaging local communities and environmental resources.

Congress failed to include sufficient parameters on how the money should be spent. Congress did not, for example, require that the military be trained in public accountability and transparency, democratic and participatory methodologies, human rights law, and respect for civil society organizations. Regulation and the capacity to sanction errant behavior were absent; the bill lacked any of these requirements.

At minimum, Congress could have mandated that a 2004 law -- requiring the military to withdraw from business by 2009 -- be enacted prior to receipt of U.S. funds. According to Human Rights Watch, civilian and military leaders have promised to implement the law, but no regulations have yet been adopted.

So how can Congress, in the same month that Human Rights Watch issues a damning report titled "The Human Rights Cost of the Indonesian Military's Economic Activities", pass legislation that gives the military the green light without clear parameters that show respect for human rights, democracy and civil society?

How could the State Department justify pulling caveats in the bill that stipulated specific reform requirements? Does Washington not realize that to guarantee Indonesia's peaceful and democratic state is to instead put restraints on their reckless and unsupervised military?

Moreover, if Washington is concerned about keeping the peace in this archipelago, then it would help Indonesians with more pressing needs like preventing and containing bird flu, rebuilding communities devastated by the Tsunami and recent earthquakes, sustaining the peace agreement signed in Aceh, reducing widespread poverty, and ensuring that U.S. mining and logging companies are held accountable for their misdeeds.

That's how Washington can help keep the peace in Indonesia. The U.S. must not continue to think that traditional anti-terror tactics --- i.e. funding militaries with a blank check -- will suffice in preventing terror from erupting.

If the U.S. genuinely cares about the world's most populous Muslim democracy then a radical departure from the norm is necessary. Keeping the peace will not happen on the military's watch as long as Congress continues to unconditionally fund its corrupt, abusive, and illegal practices.

Concomitantly, keeping the peace requires Congress to be more proactive on the social front -- i.e. returning to Aceh to rebuild the war -- and tsunami-stricken environment, bolstering the capacity of health workers to adequately prevent and contain bird flu, ensuring that U.S. companies operating in Aceh and Papua are socially and environmentally responsible, and assisting Indonesia in eradicating poverty.

A $6 million blank check written out to the military will not automatically keep the peace. At minimum, Congress should issue a directive stating that Indonesia's military receive training in public accountability and transparency, democratic and participatory methodologies, human rights law, and respect for civil society organizations.

Regulation and the capacity to sanction must accompany such a directive. Ideally, Congress helps Indonesia rebuild its society -- a people besieged by recent floods, earthquakes, bird flu, and civil war. While the latter option may be a radical departure from the norm, it is the only way to truly keep the peace.

Hasballah Saad is Indonesia's former Minister of Human Rights under President Abdurrahman Wahid and is currently the Commissioner for Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights and the founder of the Aceh Cultural Institute. Michael Shank is the Press Secretary for Citizens for Global Solutions, a Washington-based foreign policy advocacy organization.


The Jakarta Post Monday, August 14, 2006

Two faces of the TNI -- Sidoarjo and Koesmayadi

Endy M. Bayuni, Jakarta

Last week, we were privy to two contrasting images of the Indonesian Military (TNI). One would make us proud of our men and women in uniform, the other could potentially ruin all their good work, and undermine their credibility.

The main photo on the front page of the Kompas daily Friday depicts a low-ranking soldier carrying a sick woman on his back, struggling through hot, waist-high mud in Sidoardjo.

The nameless soldier is not totally faceless. In fact, it was his face -- in a grimace of agony from the mud's heat but carrying on with his duty nevertheless -- that leaves a lasting impression. Thousands more people were rendered homeless in the East Java town on Thursday when the dam, built to sustain the piling toxic mud, finally caved in under pressure.

Photos like these strengthen the image and reputation of the TNI. And if, as they say, a picture paints a thousand words, then photos like these give the narratives that help TNI regain public trust and confidence.

The TNI has been consistently on the frontline in the relief efforts at major natural and man-made disasters that have struck this country. Under-funded and under-trained, the military is still the only institution that has the men and women on the ground, as well as the organization, the discipline and the equipment to deal with quick humanitarian operations in times of emergency.

Following the destructive tsunami in Aceh in December 2004, our soldiers were the first to reach the affected isolated areas. They were quick off the mark again with the earthquakes on Nias Island off Sumatra in March 2005, in Yogyakarta in May this year, and during the tsunami in Pangandaran in West Java last month. In Sidoardjo they were there again to help victims of the mudflow.

The civil defense missions are one face of the TNI that has received little media attention. Yet, it is a dimension that lives up to its slogan "one with the people". Helping out people in distress has become a routine daily task for TNI members. In the absence of a real war, the heroic job of the unidentified soldier in the Kompas photo should define the public image and reputation of the military.

Alas, other events have unfolded that undermine this view.

The bigger story that shaped public opinion of the TNI last week was the announcement by the Military Police that the huge cache of weapons found in the house of the late Brig. Gen. Koesmayadi was his "personal collection" and had nothing --absolutely nothing -- to do with the procurement policy of the Army.

Last month's discovery of the weapons, which some experts say were enough to arm an entire Army company, raised speculation about the lack of transparency and accountability in the way the military bought its arms.

Koesmayadi had been in charge of buying weapons before his death, in his capacities as deputy assistant for logistics affairs to the Army chief of staff, and before that to the chief of the Army's Reserve Strategic Command (Kostrad). On both occasions, he reported to Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu, who has since retired from service.

The announcement by the Military Police, which were commissioned to conduct the internal investigation, fell short of public expectation, which had been raised earlier by the military leadership's promise to get to the bottom of this. The TNI leaders and the Defense Ministry then announced that they were under no obligation to explain the results of the investigation to the House of Representatives.

Given that the House controls the military purse, and given that the TNI has been lobbying for a bigger budget, surely the House and the public deserve a fuller explanation and account of how such a huge number of combat weapons could be controlled by an individual Army general outside standard procedures.

The implication of the announcement was that the buck stopped right with Koesmayadi. Since he is dead, no further investigation is required, and no one higher up should take responsibility. Two junior officers are implicated in helping Koesmayadi in his "hobby" to collect guns, so we are told.

Is there a cover up here? No one but the military leadership knows for sure. But with such an explanation, the rest of us can only suspect.

The negative reaction to the announcement cuts straight to the TNI's credibility, and raises questions about its ability to play by the new rules of transparency and accountability expected of all public institutions in a new democratic Indonesia.

The biggest loser from this episode ultimately is the TNI itself, an institution that has been struggling for the last eight years to repair its tattered image blackened by numerous human rights excesses during the Soeharto era.

The TNI has done quite well in the past eight years. Compared to other state institutions, it has been one of the fastest in conducting internal reforms. It still has a long way to go, but it is pushing ahead. Where it still falls short most is in making TNI leaders more accountable, a legacy perhaps of the Soeharto regime when the president used the military as his private army, reporting and accountable only to him.

Today, it is unclear to whom it is accountable, if it is at all.

But scandals like the Koesmayadi affair and their poor handling keep dragging the TNI reputation down and ultimately unravel all the good deeds the force has done. It's a shame because the Sidoardjo photo is a reminder of what the force can be -- a people's military that defends civilians from disasters and saves lives.

------------------------------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service

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