Thu, 10 Jul 2003

Mega opens Batam `school for spies'

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Batam

President Megawati Soekarnoputri said knowledge and skills on intelligence-gathering have become a need in everyday life, and therefore it was essential for the country to master them.

In a ground-breaking ceremony to begin the construction of what is being termed an "intelligence academy" here, the President said that in today's global world, the use of intelligence expertise could not be limited solely to the military, police and other government organizations, but was also needed for civilian purposes.

"Intelligence-gathering is widely practiced in economic fields, such as trade and finance, both at the national and international levels," Megawati said in her speech.

During the ceremony, the President said that for the first academic year, slated to commence in September, the academy's intake of around 50 students would study at the University of Indonesia (UI) in Depok until the academy's buildings were completed.

The academy will be open to the public, and many of the students will come from foreign countries, especially those in Southeast Asia.

"Many are curious about this field of study, which for the first time will be open to the public," she added.

The academy will have undergraduate and master's programs, with the undergraduate program being based in Sentul, Bogor, West Java, and the master's program in Batam.

The construction of the buildings for the academy's branches in both Sentul and Batam is slated to be completed within the next 10 months.

The curriculum of the academy has been drawn up by the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) in cooperation with UI and the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB).

The curriculum will cover information-gathering techniques ranging from surveillance to high-tech tapping systems, according to an official at BIN, Subiyanto.

It also covers the history of intelligence, current intelligence issues, the principles of intelligence analysis and religious extremism.

"The most important thing is how we gather information to prevent incidents from happening or to ensure that a business succeeds as planned," Subiyanto said, on the sidelines of the ceremony.

The official further said that the first year's intake would include a number of foreign students from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), officers from the TNI, police and other government organizations, and a number of civilians.

In her speech, the President said that the intelligence academy should also help improve the capabilities of intelligence officers here, citing the increasing threats to the security of Indonesia and the world as a whole.

"It is important that we advance our abilities to master and employ intelligence in our daily lives," Megawati said.

The school in Batam is located on a 10-hectare site. The complex will include a library, coding laboratory, and facilities for outdoor activities, such as a swimming pool and firing range.

The academy's campus in Sentul will be located on 5 hectares of land, and will provide similar facilities.

BIN chief Hendropriyono said that the construction work was being funded by the State Budget. He refused, however, to say how much it would cost.