Fri, 22 Sep 2000

No political motives behind Fachrul's dismissal: Widodo

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander Adm. Widodo A.S. denied political motives were behind the dismissal of TNI deputy chief Gen. Fachrul Razi, calling the move part of an ongoing program in military headquarters.

"No, there is no political motive behind the decision. It's part of the ongoing validation program to make TNI Headquarters more effective and efficient," he said here on Thursday when asked about rumors of a power struggle in the military.

He said Presidential Decree No. 65, which was issued on Wednesday, stipulated not only Fachrul's dismissal, but also the dissolution of the post of TNI deputy chief in the military hierarchy, because this position was not regulated by law.

Asked whether similar positions in the Army, Navy and Air Force would be also dissolved, Widodo said the matter was still under evaluation.

He said the whole military organization, including TNI Headquarters, had to be revamped in compliance with the 2000 People's Consultative Assembly decree on the role of the TNI and the National Police, and with the ongoing review of the 1982 law on defense.

"The reorganization is also needed to avoid the overlapping of tasks in TNI Headquarters and the military forces," he said.

Separately, TNI spokesman Rear Marshal Graito Usodo confirmed the military had a "grand design" for its validation program, to make the military more effective, efficient and professional.

"The whole military organization has to be gradually restructured to make it a more effective and efficient institution amid the prolonged economic crisis," he said.

He said the validation program in TNI Headquarters was still underway, while similar programs in the Army, Navy and Air Force would begin in 2002 and would be implemented fully by 2004.

Graito said a revised defense bill, which will be submitted to the House of Representatives soon, proposed the military no longer be under the supervision of the Ministry of Defense in order to ensure its neutrality.

"But the decision will completely rest with the House, which will deliberate the bill," he said.

Meanwhile, President Abdurrahman Wahid and Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri met with Widodo on Thursday, amid growing speculation of a massive shake-up in TNI.

Megawati received Widodo at her official residence on Jl. Diponegoro in Central Jakarta on Thursday morning, while Abdurrahman met with the TNI chief at Merdeka Palace later in the afternoon.

"This is only a routine meeting. I reported to the Vice President about the problems of security and refugees," said the admiral after meeting with Megawati.

During the meeting, Megawati was accompanied by Presidential Military Secretary Rear Marshal Budhy Santoso.

Widodo just smiled when asked about his possible replacement as TNI commander. "I haven't heard anything about it."

Widodo will accompany Megawati during her two-day visit to Atambua, West Timor, on Saturday and Sunday to inspect East Timorese refugee camps there.

Budhy said the meeting between the Vice President and the admiral dealt solely with technical matters, particularly preparations for the commemoration of TNI's 55th anniversary on Oct. 5.

The Vice President will preside over the anniversary ceremony due to the President's impaired vision, Budhy said.

He said there were technical matters to be resolved prior to the ceremony, including the Vice President's dress for leading an official military ceremony.

"For instance, whether the Vice President will wear a hat or not," Budhy remarked.

Later in the afternoon, the President was accompanied by Cabinet Secretary Marsilam Simanjuntak while receiving Widodo.

Widodo looked relaxed when asked about Wednesday's dismissal of Gen. Fachrul Razi. "It's merely part of our restructuring program."

Separately, Muslim scholar Nurcholish Madjid warned the President on Thursday not to continue pushing TNI into a corner, because the military was still a very strong institution despite its current problems.

The President must be more careful with his steps to reform the military, otherwise the moves will backfire on him, Nurcholish said.

"I'm afraid if the President continues to corner the military, because they have arms," Nurcholish was quoted as saying by Antara news agency on the sidelines of a seminar in Surabaya. (rms/byg/prb)