TNI reform remains slow under SBY government

TNI reform remains slow under SBY government

The Jakarta Post , JAKARTA

Reforms within the Indonesian Military (TNI) have remained slow under the administration of retired Army general Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a discussion concluded Thursday.

“I believe the military has not reformed at all during the 2004-2009 period because of difficulties implementing the laws,” presidential advisor Agus Widjojo told the discussion on the future of the military at the House of Representatives building.

The former three-star Army general said the military had still not shifted its control to the Defense Ministry as required by law, but remained under the jurisdiction of the President.

Among other major problems was the military’s failure to resolve its affairs and to establish a National Security Council.

He said many articles within defense and security laws, including the amended 1945 Constitution, were still confusing and the separation of the police and military forces remained unclear.

The former deputy chairman of the People’s Consultative Assembly said the 2004 military law was convoluted and being interpreted in a number of ways.

“The most controversial article in the military law is that soldiers must abide by the public criminal law, meaning their misconduct would be investigated by police,” Agus said. Such a measure would place psychological pressure on TNI soldier, he argued.

“The government has to promote trust between police and the military first and foremost before enforcing this law [on soldiers].”

The law forbidding soldiers from partaking in political affairs, including voting, was also very problematic, he said.

“This definition is very obscure and could easily lead to misinterpretation. No wonder we still find many high-ranking commanders making political statements,” Agus said, claiming control was needed to prevent military leaders becoming involved in political campaigning.

Prominent military analyst Kus-nanto Anggoro said that during the 1998-2004 period, only one reform took place internally within the military.

“The reform took place without any involvement from public,” he said.

Military reforms failed to meet the demands of the people, he said, making the institution “untouchable and difficult to access”.

“For example, in resolving human rights cases involving soldiers and issues of military businesses, there was little change,” he said.

“The military is still a long way from being like the armed forces in other nations, maybe even 20 years away,” Kusnanto said.

Agus Widjojo said military reforms would remain a task for the next government to challenge.
“The military has to transform from the traditional fighters of 1945 to professional soldiers,” he said.

Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) legislator Mutammimul Ula, however, said the military had changed in many ways.

“Several prominent generals have said military reforms have succeeded, even if they are internal,” he said.

He said laws were needed to smooth the reformation process within military institutions.

“Improving soldiers’ welfare is also very important,” he added