Wed, 13 Aug 2003

Generals told to set example

Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Low-ranking military personnel have given mixed reactions to an instruction by the Indonesian Military (TNI) banning enlisted members from taking side jobs to augment their income.

"My salary is not enough to cover my family's basic needs. But if military leaders want us to stop taking side jobs as security guards, they should first set examples for us by leading a modest life," said Dulmatin (not his real name), who moonlighted as a security guard for a private company.

He was referring to those generals, who are known to lead a high-rolling life, with some owning more than two luxury cars and mansions.

"How can we listen to them (military leaders) if they themselves only talk about power and money every day?" he asked.

Another military personnel, whose wife also works to support their family, voiced a different opinion. He said being a member of the military carried with it several compromises, including leading a modest life.

"I don't think we have to be jealous of our superiors being richer than we are, because I believe they have greater responsibilities than we do," Sunarya (not his real name), told the Post.

Following the fatal shooting of businessman Boedyharto Angsono and First Sgt. Edy Siyep, a Special Forces (Kopassus) member who had been moonlighting as Angsono's bodyguard, TNI chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto ordered all military units to crack down on soldiers taking side jobs, which violates the Military Oath, and underlined that the TNI would not hesitate to discharge soldiers involved in such activities.

Four Marines have also been implicated in the cold-blooded murder, which is believed to have been contracted out to professional sharpshooters.

Many soldiers moonlight as security guards at private offices, nightclubs and hotels, and even as personal bodyguards, to augment their base salaries of Rp 750,000 to Rp 1.5 million a month, which was not enough to cope with the soaring prices of basic needs.

Dulmatin said that he did not want a side job at hotels or nightclubs, because the position was generally associated with illegal businesses. "Well ... we know so," he simply said when asked to explain further.

Soldiers guarding vital installations in conflict-prone territories are more likely to enjoy a small amount of additional income from what they call "protection money".

PT Freeport Indonesia in Papua confirmed last year that they had paid up to US$5.6 million in protection money since it began operations in the 1970s.