Wed, 21 Jun 2000

TNI and civilian achievements

Dr. Kusnanto Anggoro, a military observer from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) observed that the reformation in the Indonesian Military (TNI) is moving at a snail's pace. TNI is only transferring members to different positions. He does not see this is too important and does not touch the core of the problem of reform.

There is a proverb in the Indonesian, saying that there are people who can see insects on the other side of the river, but not an elephant in their own eye (freely translated). This means that you can easily detect mistakes and shortcomings of others, but fail to notice your own (much bigger) mistakes.

For the sake of simplicity, although perhaps not too accurate, let us divide the nation into two parts, the civilians and the military. Both parts are seriously taking part in the reform program, spearheaded by the courageous students. It was the students who succeeded in bringing down the New Order and announcing the birth of the reform era. Let us now compare what the civilian community has achieved and what the military has accomplished.

Gen. Wiranto said that the military is not only playing along in this reform era, but is part and parcel of it. This is considered the basic stand of the military. They are trying very hard to achieve their goal by bringing far reaching reforms in their organization. The army chief of staff said in Surakarta that people should not even try to bring the TNI back in the political arena. Going back to the barracks is our basic policy and that is not negotiable. A similar decision reached after the latest commanders call was officially announced by the commander in chief of TNI and reported to the President in his position as the Supreme Commander in Chief of the Indonesian Military.

So TNI has made a 180 degree turn and is very serious in implementing it. Although not much has been achieved so far, at least mentally the whole TNI is on the same wavelength and they are very serious about it.

Now let us see objectively and honestly, without any bad sentiments what the civilians have achieved so far in the reform era. The loudest cry in this reform era is about the elimination of corruption, collusion and nepotism (KKN) and the restoration of the supremacy of law.

Corruption is as rampant as before, new cases are emerging while the old cases are still under investigation. While Baligate is unfinished, we now are confronted with Bulogate and possible connection with high officials.

The relationship between the Governor of the Central Bank and the President is still on everybody's mind and it is confusing the economic markets as well, with the result that the value of our rupiah is steadily falling.

What have we achieved in the law reform period in this civilian sector. We read of violent actions against criminals, disregard for the principle of presumption of innocence. Suspected criminals are caught by crowds who take law in their own hands and torture the victim and most of the time it ends with the burning of the victim alive. It's barbarian, and we should be ashamed.

So in short, what has the civilian community achieved so far in this reform era? The answer is self-explanatory.