Tue, 25 Feb 2003

More analysts give thumbs-down to military bill

Tiarma Siboro and Kurniawan Hari, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Two more military analysts have criticized the draft law on the military currently being prepared by the government, saying the bull, which gives more power to the military, could jeopardize democracy.

Daniel Sparringa of Airlangga University in Surabaya, East Java, said the bill was a reflection of the generals' distaste for civilian supremacy over the military.

"It is a setback to the ongoing democratization process, which makes the military subordinate to civilians. Therefore, all policies on the military, including the deployment of personnel anywhere in the country, must be regulated by the state," he told The Jakarta Post by telephone on Monday.

He acknowledged that the military had monopolized three concepts: Pancasila as the state's single ideology, the unitary state and nationhood.

Daniel was commenting on Article 19 of the draft law giving the Indonesian Military (TNI) chief authority to deploy personnel in emergencies without the need for presidential approval.

Ikrar Nusa Bhakti, a military analyst from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), criticized the draft law on Sunday, saying it contravened the 1945 Constitution and democratic principles.

Salim Said, another military observer, concurred and said that according to the Constitution, the president in his/her capacity as head of state was the commander-in-chief of the armed forces -- Army, Navy and Air Force-- and the only party allowed to declare war.

"Based on our Constitution, the military must comply with political decisions made by the state (represented by the government and the House of Representatives). Thus the president is the supreme commander of the military. This also includes the deployment of armed forces.

"So, it is quite ridiculous if the TNI commander is allowed to deploy personnel without any approval from the president, for whatever reason," Salim told the Post.

Separately, the secretary of the Ministry of Defense, Vice Marshall Suprihadi, said the ministry had set up a team to review the bill, which has been handed over to the state secretariat.

Declining to directly comment on the controversial issues, Suprihadi said that power over the armed forces was still in the hands of president.

He added that the government was determined to have the bill passed into law this year.

Earlier, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu voiced a controversial demand for the Army's possible return to its former functions in security matters, in addition to the defense function.

Commenting to Ryamizard's statement, Salim said that he could not blame the Army should it demand a greater role in maintaining security at home, but stressed that all things concerning the military should be determined by the government and the House of Representatives (read: civilians).