Sat, 15 Jan 2000

Rusdihardjo wants an end to political intervention

JAKARTA (JP): Newly installed National Police chief Lt. Gen. Rusdihardjo urged the nation on Friday to no longer allow any parties to intervene in police work for their own benefit.

In his speech, marking the official handover of his new post from his predecessor, Gen. Roesmanhadi, Rusdihardjo underlined that police in every democratic nation should be independent in carrying out their task of upholding and protecting human rights.

"History has taught us the fact that police who are influenced by other interests outside of the law, particularly political interests, are always forced to use power as a tool.

Consequently, the public sees the police more as an oppressor than a law upholder, and more as a political tool than a public servant," Rusdihardjo said during the ceremony at the National Police Mobile Brigade Headquarters in Kelapa Dua, south of Jakarta.

The ceremony was attended by hundreds of guests, including scores of active and retired top-brass police and military staff.

Rusdihardjo reminded all of his some 187,000 police personnel nationwide of the ongoing strong public criticism of the force.

"The people have reacted to our behavior. They have protested against us, insulted us, acted brutally towards our officers in the field and even damaged the National Police Headquarters," he said.

Rusdihardjo, however, did not clarify what he said about damage to the police headquarters on Jl. Trunojoyo in South Jakarta; there have been no reports so far about the headquarters becoming a target for violent demonstrations.

However, in January 1996, the headquarters, including the office of the National Police chief, was razed by fire. No official information about the cause of the fire has ever been disclosed.

In his speech, Rusdihardjo, who was once chief of the National Police detectives, urged all police personnel to change their "authoritarian and militaristic" attitude.

"If we carry on this way, people will end up totally rejecting the credibility of the police as security enforcers."


In order to build a totally independent and professional police force, the three-star general also vowed to take stiff measures against any undisciplined officers.

"The priorities will be officers who deviate from their jobs as investigators and those who free suspected criminals after receiving bribes," Rusdihardjo said.

The poor performance of the police, he said, could also be seen from the growing lack of public trust in the force.

People, for example, increasingly showed no intent to hand over suspected criminals to the police, but, rather, preferred to take the law into their own hands by brutally punishing them.

"These are very clear indications that tell us that we need to develop ourselves as a force," he said.

In his remarks, which revealed his dreams for a brand new Indonesian police force with a good image, Rusdihardjo also repeated his plan to develop the capability of police detectives nationwide.

Detective development would be one of his top priorities in the next budget.

"We are coming close to 200,000 criminal cases a year. We have only 13,000 detectives. From these personnel, only one third can investigate independently," he said.

Rusdihardjo added that due to lack of police personnel and equipment, the police force has had to depend on the military to handle social conflicts.

"We have to depend on the military, even as we realize that the use of the military in matters of security, particularly social conflicts, is regarded as less than acceptable in a civil society," Rusdihardjo said.

"It can even lower the credibility of our nation and international trust in it, which has a bad effect, both politically and economically."

Among the guests at Friday's ceremony were former National Police chiefs Gen. (ret) Awaloeddin Djamin and Gen. (ret) Banurusman, and Indonesian Military Chief of Staff Gen. Tyasno Sudarto.

When asked to comment on Rusdihardjo's speech, Banurusman expressed his strong support and suggested Rusdihardjo, among other things, revise existing Law No. 28/1997 on the function and position of the National Police.

"We cannot tolerate any more interventions, particularly from the military. This has to be straightened out by law," Banurusman said. (ylt)