Thu, 06 Jan 2000

New police chief discloses his plans

By Yogita Tahil Ramani

JAKARTA (JP): Newly-installed National Police chief Lt. Gen. Rusdihardjo vows to tell the truth behind all cases and plans to further improve the skills of police officers nationwide.

In an interview with The Jakarta Post at his residence in South Jakarta, the 54-year-old lieutenant general, who was installed a day earlier by President Abdurrahman Wahid, replacing Gen. Roesmanhadi, will also order police chiefs to regularly take to the streets instead of, for example, holding meetings or golf outings.

The former chief of National Police detectives also spoke bluntly about the unsolved murders of female labor activist Marsinah and journalist Udin, and the classic tragic condition of the police budget and operation.

On his promise to stick to the truth, Rusdihardjo said that most police chiefs decided to hide the facts in fear of never being promoted.

"It's political pressure. If I say something about this, for instance, I could never be a provincial police chief or a national police chief. I have been recommended, but will never make it to Sespim (the National Police Staff and Leadership School in Bandung, West Java)," the former Sespim chief said.

"In the past, to become a provincial police chief, the candidate had to be rechecked with the provincial military police chief. If the latter liked you, then you had no choice but to wait."

Unlike other police chiefs before him, Rusdihardjo has shed some light on the mysteries that still surround the 1993 brutal murder of Marsinah in Surabaya, East Java, and the 1996 killing of journalist Fuad Muhammad Syafrudin, better known as Udin, at his residence near Yogyakarta.

"Marsinah shouldn't have died. Some truck drivers saw her one night in the woods. She was smashed up. Her hair was disheveled, her face and her body had really bad cuts and she was bleeding profusely, from ... sorry to say this, her vagina," Rusdihardjo said.

"The truck drivers ran away, frightened by a 'ghost'. One of them contacted the Madiun Police. Officers came, took one look at her and thought that she was sinting (mentally ill). They should have helped her. She was still alive.

"They threw her into the back of a Kijang van, drove her through remote areas to the Jombang Police Headquarters. She died there, most likely of an excessive loss of blood."


Rusdihardjo said he was one of the senior police officers assigned to probe the case at that time. He had gone to check the Porong Military District Command (Kodim) himself, where the rape and murder allegedly took place.

"There was a lot of blood everywhere. We were shocked. There was also blood on the seats of a Daihatsu Zebra, or maybe it was a (Suzuki) Carry van (at the Kodim). I don't quite remember," he said.

"Since we had no equipment to determine whether the blood was that of an animal or a human being, we just took her bones. There was very few of them as we exhumed her skeleton from the grave."

"You know about the DNA story, and the rest. The case was not handled properly. We don't know who the killers are," he said, referring to the contamination of DNA samples due to prolonged and complicated test procedures.

Rusdihardjo said in Udin's case, National Police detectives only took a good look at the crime scene 14 days after the crime was committed.

"We were under enormous pressure. That's all I can say," he said, refusing to give further details.

Rusdihardjo added that changes in the police force would come about with professionalism.

"I'm not going to dream about raising the number of police officers nationwide with the paltry budget.

"The number of police officers today (some 187,000 personnel) should be more or less the same until the year 2025," he said.

"There are too many posts at National Police Headquarters that do not need police officers, but civilians.

"All top police officers wear the chocolate-colored cord on their shoulder, but do they ever use their whistles (to serve the people)?

"I'm going to try cutting out the morning meetings in all police precincts. From the precinct chief to his subordinates, they will all go to (their respective) fields. This will happen.

"No golfing either. This literally means no golfing during work hours and no attending unnecessary meetings."

On the police budget, Rusdihardjo said he was going to try and concentrate a substantial amount on operational vehicles and equipment.

"We spend billions on buildings," he said.

"How many vans does a police subprecinct have here? About two each. How can our officers go to three crime scenes at one time without vans and motorcycles?"

On police corruption, Rusdihardjo said that most police officers feel that "anything that can be made into money, should be made into money".

"Life is very, very hard. To get children schooled, to eat in fact, we need money. A colonel today (only) receives a monthly salary of less than Rp 1.5 million.

"A detective, for example, needs informants for information. No information comes free."

Rusdihardjo also added that police personnel nationwide would receive additional training on conducting raids.

"You do not go into a nightclub and get some MC to announce: 'ladies and gentlemen we, from the police precinct, are going to conduct a raid.' Police themselves end up pocketing the evidence, and most of the time use it."