Thu, 06 Jan 2000

The military apologizes

A touching event occurred in Makassar on New Year's Eve. The Army chief of staff, Gen. Tyasno Sudarto, apologized to the Indonesian people for past mistakes made by the Indonesian Military (TNI). "The TNI admits it has made mistakes and is asking the Indonesian people for their forgiveness. We apologize for all the mistakes we have made -- consciously or otherwise -- during the New Order period and in the initial days of the present reform movement," the chief of staff said.

We believe that, this time, the apology that was conveyed by the Army chief of staff was an expression of genuine regret. A genuine effort exists to improve the standing of the military, which has suffered considerably in the eyes of the people.

TNI must now do all it can to rehabilitate its reputation. Apologizing is one way for it to once again be at peace with the population from among whom it was born. Any effort to preserve the notion that TNI cannot do wrong can only be counterproductive.

A clear position must also be taken with regard to the use of the word oknum (rogue individuals) within TNI. Oknum should refer not only to erring lower-ranking members of the military, but to officers as well. In the present situation, any attempt to subject generals to questioning or investigation is taken as an insult to TNI. The Army chief of staff's apology should seek to correct problems such as these as well.

-- Media Indonesia, Jakarta