|Subject: Indonesia says time ripe to
restore military ties with US
Received from Joyo Indonesia News
Agence France-Presse, Friday February 18, 2005
Indonesia says time ripe to restore military ties with US
Indonesia welcomed efforts by the United States to restore full military training ties with Jakarta, saying the time was ripe to resume links that were downgraded 13 years ago.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Washington Thursday that she was in the final stages of consultations with Congress on certifying Indonesia as eligible for the International Military Education and Training program.
"I think it's a good time to do that," she said, citing what she called Indonesia's "successful" presidential election last year and cooperation in the investigation of the 2002 murder of two Americans in Indonesia.
In Jakarta, foreign ministry spokesman Marty Natalegawa said a full resumption of the training program would serve as a "correction for an anomaly" that had hindered relations between the two countries.
"Now is the best time for the United States and Indonesia to restore military relations as two democratic countries," he told journalists here.
The administration of President George W. Bush has been eager to restore military links with Indonesia, largely to help combat terrorism, but has so far run into a reluctant Congress.
Indonesia was suspended from the training program in 1992 in view of concerns over its human rights record. Washington stepped up sanctions in 1999 after the Indonesian army killed some 1,500 people during East Timor's independence campaign.
Ties soured further in 2002 when the army was accused of blocking a US inquiry into the killing of two US schoolteachers in Indonesia's Papua province.
But relations took an upturn after the United States mounted a massive military relief operation to help Indonesian victims of the December 26 tsunami, especially in the worst hit Aceh province.
Draft defense and security law a step back for military reform
Jakarta - Discussion of the Draft Law on Defense and
Security (RUU Hankam) which has been initiated up by
Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono is a step backwards in
efforts to reform the Indonesian armed forces (TNI).
This view was expressed separately by the former TNI chief
of territorial affairs retired Lieutenant General Agus
Widjojo and the chairperson of the National Mandate Party
Amien Rais on Wednesday (16/2) the Thursday (17/2).
Widjojo believes the functions of defense and security are
different and cannot be united because the security
portfolio which to date has been held by the Indonesian
national police and defense which is held by the TNI are
totally different. "It isn't that easy to unite the
functions of defense and security. This is a solution which
is too simplistic", said Widjojo.
Rais believes the merging of the functions of the TNI and
national police is the start of the liquidation of
democracy. Rais said further that it was a strange thing
for the minister of defense to say that the separation of
the functions of the TNI and police to date are a kind
"The separation of the functions between the TNI as the
backbone of national defense and the police as the backbone
of national security represents a proportional result of
reformasi. So it is very strange if this is said to be
excessive reformasi", he said.
Earlier, in an interview with Sinar Harapapn on Tuesday
February 15, the head of the legal bureau of the Department
of Defense Brigadier General Sugeng Widodo said that the
RUU Hankam will become a legal umbrella for Law Number
3/2003 on National Defense, Law Number 2/2002 on the
Indonesian National Police and Law Number 34/2004 on the
TNI. According to Widodo, revisions can later be made to
all laws which refer to the RUU Hankam.
So far, plans to draft a law on defense and security have
been restricted to academic writings and study. Widodo
however says that there are a number of points which must
later be inserted into the RUU Hankam including the
question of the concept of foreign and domestic defense,
mechanisms for making decisions, the formation of a defense
and security council and the issue of a reserve force. In
the future, the position of the TNI under the Department of
Defense and the police under the Department of Home affairs
or the Department of Legal Affairs and Human Rights will
also be regulated.
With regard to the plan, Widodo says that the Department of
Defense should hold a public consultation. "Don't make
policies only based on the decisions of a small section of
the elite", he said.
Widodo also believes that if the RUU Hankam later flows on
to the realisation of the placement of the TNI under the
Department of Defense and the police under the Department
of Home Affairs - as part of realising reform in the
TNI/Police - it would be best if it was not done in a
complicated manner. "If the aim is to carry out reformasi,
look for the shortest way, don't instead create a new
problem", he said.
An observer from the Propatria Institute for Military
Studies, Hari Prihartono, believes that it is inappropriate
for the Minister of Defense to initiate a discussion about
the integration of the TNI and police in parliament.
According to Prihartono, Sudarsono should not confuse his role as an academic and the minister of defense. It is enough for Sudarsono to moot the idea in accordance with his authority as the minister of defense, but it shouldn't be spun off onto other institutions such as the police which are not under his authority. "It will become a big problem if the defense minister spins it off onto other institutions because the police are not under his authority", said Prihartono.
Prihartono says that he is unable to comment yet on the RUU Hankam which is presently still in the form of an academic document. "Later if it is already in the form of a draft [law] it will be easier to comment [on it] article by article", he said.
He believes that in its conceptual form as it is now there are still many changes which will be made. The discussion of the draft of the RUU Hankam must continue and be handled by an internal Defense Department team which is coordinated by the head of the legal bureau, Widodo.
The team is made up of five TNI officer with the rank of colonel. Three of them are members of the legal bureau, that is Colonel Dharmadi, Colonel Heru and Colonel Ahwani. The two other officers are from the Directorate General of Defense Forces in the Department of Defense.
Prihartono added that the RUU Hankam has more or less adopted the concept of national security which has previously been proposed by Propatria. This document includes issues of internal security and defense. "But I don't know how it happened that a draft of the RUU Hankam such as this appeared. It doesn't appear to fit because it has most certainly been taken from a different concept", he said.
Not under a single roof
Indonesian chief of police General Da'i Bahtiar meanwhile says that he doesn't feel convinced that the TNI and police could come under one roof. "I don't know exactly and [wish to] comment on that one issue, but what I heard was [it would] not united [them] under one roof. Perhaps what is being considered is how to integrate TNI or police aid [efforts]", he said in Semarang on Wednesday February 16.
Responding to the defense minister's statement which said that his office was currently preparing amendments to the Defense Aceh, that is that the TNI and police would be under the coordination of the Department for Legal, Political and Security affairs, Bahtiar admitted that for the time being TNI or police aid efforts have no government regulation or reference which is mandated by law.
Although at the moment joint work and their mechanisms are functioning, according to Bahtiar a standard regulation is still needed. "So, perhaps what was meant by the minister of defense is only about the implementation, what is the social relationship between the TNI and the police", he explained. (ant/yuk/san/emy)
[Translated by James Balowski.]
The INDOLEFT news service is produced by the Indonesian Centre for Reform and Social Emancipation (INCREASE) and Action in Solidarity with Asia and the Pacific.
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Received from Joyo Indonesia News
Environmental Investigation Agency (London) 17 February 2005
World's Biggest Timber Smuggling Racket Exposed between Indonesia and China
Jakarta - Rampant smuggling of illegal timber from Indonesia to China is a billion dollar trade threatening the last remaining intact tropical forests in the Asia-Pacific region, the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) and Telapak revealed at a press conference today in Jakarta.
A new report released by EIA/Telapak, entitled "The Last Frontier", exposes the international criminal syndicates behind the massive looting of merbau trees from Indonesia's Papua Province. Merbau, a valuable hardwood used mainly for flooring, is being smuggled out of Papua at a rate of around 300 000 cubic metres of logs every month to feed China's timber processing industry. China's economic boom has led to it becoming the largest buyer of illegal timber in the world.
EIA/Telapak investigations into merbau smuggling have led from the forests of Papua, to middlemen in Jakarta, Singapore and Hong Kong, and finally to the rapidly expanding timber processing factories of China.
Illegal logging in Papua typically involves the collusion of the Indonesian military, the involvement of Malaysian logging gangs, and the exploitation of indigenous communities. The profits are vast as local communities only receive around US$10 for each cubic metre of merbau felled on their land, while the same logs fetch as much as US$270 per cubic metre in China.
M. Yayat Afianto of Telapak said: "Papua has become the main illegal logging hotspot in Indonesia. The communities of Papua are paid a pittance for trees taken from their land, while timber dealers in Jakarta, Singapore and Hong Kong are banking huge profits. This massive timber theft of Indonesia's last pristine forests has got to be stopped."
EIA/Telapak undercover investigations revealed a network of middlemen and brokers responsible for arranging shipment of the illegal logs from Indonesia to China. These powerful syndicates pay around US$200 000 per shipment in bribes to ensure the contraband logs are not intercepted in Indonesian waters, as Indonesia currently bans the export of logs.
The majority of merbau logs stolen from Papua are destined for the Chinese port of Zhangjiagang, near Shanghai, where they are cleared through customs using false Malaysian paperwork to disguise their true origin, in violation of Chinese law.
The logs are then transported to the nearby town of Nanxun, China's main centre for the manufacture of wooden flooring. This town only had a handful of flooring factories five years ago, now there are more than 500 being supplied by over 200 sawmills cutting only merbau logs. Every minute of every working day the Nanxun factories process one merbau log into flooring.
Julian Newman of EIA said: "Indonesia and China signed a formal agreement over two years ago to cooperate in tackling the trade in illegal timber. So far these words have not been matched by actions. The smuggling of merbau logs between Indonesia and China violates the laws of both countries, so there is a clear basis for action. Concerted effort by both governments is needed to put the smuggling syndicates out of business."
Video and still images available on request. Full version of report available at www.eia-international.org and www.telapak.org
Over 70 per cent of Indonesia's original frontier forests have been lost. Indonesia has the world's worst deforestation rate, with an area the size of Switzerland being lost every year.
*Indonesia's Papua Province forms the western part of the island of New Guinea. With intact forest cover at around 70 per cent, New Guinea contains the last substantial tracts of undisturbed forest in the Asia-Pacific region.
*The government of Indonesia banned the export of all logs in October 2001.
*Under Chinese customs law, it is an offence to falsely declare the origin of imports.
*China's log imports have risen from one million cubic metres in 1997 to 16 million cubic metres in 2002.
*In December 2002, the governments of Indonesia and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding to combat illegal trade in forest products.
* EIA is an independent environmental non-profit group based in London and Washington DC. More information at www.eia-international.org.
*Telapak is an independent environmental non-profit group based in Bogor, Indonesia. More information at www.telapak.org .
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