Fri, 03 Mar 2000

Agus vows to do his best as new Kostrad chief

JAKARTA (JP): Newly appointed Army Strategic Reserve Command (Kostrad) chief Maj. Gen. Agus Wirahadikusumah played down critics who questioned his eligibility for the post.

Agus said on Thursday before attending a dialog between Army top brass and retired generals, that it was not he who assessed his capability to become Kostrad chief, a strategic post viewed as a stepping stone to the Army chief of staff position.

"I knew nothing about the decision on my promotion. The President has assessed me, and so have the TNI leaders. Most important is that wherever I am stationed I will do my best for the people, the government, TNI and the nation," he said.

Former TNI chief Gen. Wiranto and outgoing Kostrad chief Lt. Gen. Djadja Suparman expressed their disappointment with Agus' promotion, saying he did not fit the post due to his lack of ethics and inclination toward politics.

Wiranto, who was upset by Agus' advice that he bow to President Abdurrahman Wahid's call for his resignation for alleged involvement in East Timor atrocities last year, even likened his outspoken junior as a bad perkutut, Javanese equivalent for small singing turtle dove.

Agus said on Thursday that as a professional soldier he was always ready for a tour of duty wherever and whenever the military leaders ordered.

"You can see my record. I have been moved to numerous positions in the military in line with my career since I graduated from the Military Academy," he said.

He dismissed speculation that a clique in the military helped him obtain the promotion. TNI, according to him, is not involved in interest groups and his recent promotion is not a result of his close link to the President and military leaders.

"The President has given his personal assessment of me. I ask you the press to observe whether I am capable of carrying out my new job," he said.

He said not only the President but people across the country will support someone who does everything right.

"I have millions of people beside me but I have no dependence on certain individuals, including the President and the Army chief of staff. I'm always myself, I never think negatively of others, including my seniors," he said.

He said people always need strong, professional military personnel to carry out defense functions.

He reiterated that the Indonesian Military (TNI) should not depend on certain individuals or its leaders, but on its persistent policy based on its doctrine and command line.

"Of utmost importance is that all military officials are professional in their respective posts and have a strong commitment to establishing TNI's identity in line with its doctrine," Agus said.

He said that to be professional, servicemen must refrain from practicing politics and serve the people to the best of their ability.

"TNI's identity must be apparent in its service to the nation, the people and the government. Both the government and people have been longing for a dedicated and professional military," he said.

He accepted the criticism that the military was too close to the government of the past regime. He said the criticism should serve as a warning for the military if it takes a wrong direction.

"Now we are returning to our initial function in the defense field," he said.

Asked about the reform in the military, he said he was proud of the persistent internal reform in the military, which is in line with the people's demands.

"The reform is in progress and it has gone hand in hand with the reform movement in other fields," he said. (emf/rms)