Subject: Analysts criticize Indonesia's military elite for superior attitude

The Jakarta Post Saturday, July 8, 2006

Analysts criticize military elite for superior attitude

Ridwan Max Sijabat, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Analysts believe stronger public pressure is needed to push through internal reform in the Indonesian Military (TNI), which they contend has been hindered by a feeling of superiority among its leaders.

J. Kristiadi, a military analyst from the Centre for Strategic International Studies (CSIS), said the recent discovery of an arms stash at a home of deceased Brig. Gen. Koesmayadi reflected not only weak weaponry supervision among the military elite, but mainly the poor management of arms procurement.

"It is unfair to blame only Defense Minister Juwono Sudarsono for the lack of accountability and intransparent arms procurement because, besides having to face a corrupt bureaucracy, including in his office and the military institution, it is also not easy for him to control the military elite," he told The Jakarta Post on Friday in response to criticism from several legislators about Juwono's supposed lack of courage in pushing through reform.

"Despite the law, the military itself has been reluctant to yield to civilian supremacy. The feeling of superiority has positioned servicemen as first-class citizens, a special status that apparently allows them to do anything according to their own will."

Kristiadi termed the reluctance to accept civilian supremacy, including in its reorganization under the Defense Ministry and not allowing servicemen to be tried by civilian courts, to be an act of insubordination by the elite in rejecting the requirements of the 2004 law on the military.

"There is a psychological reason for the TNI to be reluctant to comply with the law because, besides the police having to be reorganized under the Home Ministry, it has its own pride as a fighter force in the past."

Separately, Makmur Keliat, an international observer from the CSIS, said the government should tightly control the transportation of arms into the country and the operation of arms suppliers to avoid smuggling.

"Arms supplied from domestic companies and those imported through Indonesia's partner companies must be registered in accordance with the UN convention, and arms suppliers have to be transparent in their operations."

He noted some of the arms found in Koesmayadi's house were imported through Singapore and were not registered with Army Headquarters.

Kristiadi and Makmur said bureaucratic collusion, especially at the immigration and tax and excise offices, might have facilitated the illegal import of the armaments to the country.

They also said that civilian society, especially political parties through the legislature, had to continue pressing the government to enforce the law to make the military professional.

"Without stronger public pressure, the military will likely be selective in announcing the results of the ongoing investigation into the arms cache," said Kristiadi.

Meanwhile, former information minister Yunus Yosfiah said he knew Koesmayadi personally but he was shocked by the arms stash at his house.

"He was commandant of the Army platoon that killed East Timor president Nicolau Lobato when I was leading the former 744th battalion assigned to launch a military operation in the country's ex-territory in 1977. He was quite professional," he said in a discussion.

He said he last met Koesmayadi at the Army's Special Force (Kopassus) headquarters in 2005, when both were invited to share their experiences from the East Timor military campaign.

Yunus, also former chief of the Udayana Military Command overseeing Bali, East and West Nusa Tenggara, dismissed rumors that the arms would be used for a coup, saying the case had to be probed thoroughly to avoid misleading speculation.

The House is scheduled to hold a hearing on the arms hoard with the defense minister and the TNI leadership Monday.

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

Back to July menu 
World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu