Mon, 29 Aug 1994

Phase military out of civil service: General

JAKARTA (JP): The Armed Forces (ABRI) should start phasing its officers out of professional positions in the bureaucracy, a respected military man says.

Lt. Gen. (ret.) Sayidiman Suryohadiprojo said on Saturday the proficiency of civilians is growing in many fields and that the time is ripe for the military to stop posting its men in the civil service, with the exception of positions in defense and security institutions.

"The profession of military and police officers, basically, is in the security and defense sectors," he said.

"Limiting the number of officers in professional civil service positions will control unemployment among professional civilians," he said.

He warned that unemployment is one of the most vulnerable spots in the national development program. "The more civil positions occupied by ABRI members, the more dangerous unemployment becomes."

He drew a distinction, however, when it came to political positions in the administration and legislature, such as governors' posts and seats in the House of Representatives and the People's Consultative Assembly, which he said must remain open to whoever qualifies.

Sayidiman, who is a former governor of Lemhanas, the military think-tank, and former ambassador to Japan, was speaking in a seminar on the role of ABRI in politics.

The other speakers in the discussion held by the Association of Indonesian Moslem Intellectuals (ICMI) were political analysts Dr. Deliar Noer, Dr. Amir Santoso and Dr. Din Syamsudin, as well as Lt. Gen. (ret.) Achmad Tirtosudiro, who chairs ICMI's Jakarta office, and Brig. Gen. (ret.) Roekmini Koesoemoastoeti, a former legislator.

Sayidiman made his call while explaining his view of the dual role doctrine (Dwifungsi) which he felt has been badly misinterpreted. The concept, which enables the military to play a role in both defense and politics, has been widely criticized as proof of the pervasive interference of the military in the government.

Equal standing

Sayidiman said both military and civilians have equal standing in the nation's politics and are so harmoniously related that either party can contribute to the other's development.

The stance of the Armed Forces is that "the responsibility of the military is not limited to defense matters only".

"The military is also responsible to help create a just and prosperous community," he said.

The roots of the dual function policy go back as far as the revolutionary years when the government of the fledgling nation was defeated by Dutch colonial forces, and the military refused to surrender, he said.

The military was also instrumental in crushing the 1965 coup attempt by the now defunct Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), he said.

Among critics of ABRI's dual function is respected Indonesia watcher, Harold Crouch of the Australian National University, who has said that most ABRI officers want to maintain the military's dominant direct role in the government by clinging to the doctrine.

The military's role in politics and defense, once too sensitive an issue to discuss in public, has recently come under intense scrutiny in some seminars.

A growing awareness within military circles that they should reduce their role in politics because more civilians are able to fill positions in the bureaucracy has also surfaced.

At least two retired generals have previously made calls for the phasing out of the military's role in the bureaucracy. They are former home minister Rudini and Soemitro, the former chief of the command for the restoration of security and order.

The seminar was opened by Brig. Gen. (ret.) Muhammad Syarif, who represented Coordinating Minister for Political Affairs and Security Soesilo Soedarman.

In a statement delivered by Syarif, Soesilo put forward a number of reasons for the existence of the military in the political infrastructure, as well as superstructure. Among them was the history of the military, which is intertwined with the history of civilians and the nation's independence.

"Not one person among the Indonesian people should reject the dual function doctrine, because it's the very manifestation of the military's surrender to the people," Soesilo said. (swe)