Tue, 15 Jan 2002

TNI dual function is legitimate

In some newspapers recently we read about a possible political comeback of the Indonesian military (TNI) due to the proposed reactivation of the military command in Aceh. Politicians, unsympathetic to the TNI, warn the public that this is a sign that the military is rebuilding its political power base.

Although I, as a retired soldier, don't believe in this prediction; I cannot suppress a feeling of pride due to the fact that the TNI is still appreciated by the public.

I am convinced that at present the TNI is still the only body which is compact, with a clear job description and line of command, possesses high discipline and a patriotic spirit, while enforcing the law.

I read a statement by Kusnanto -- political analyst from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies -- that former president Abdurrahman Wahid was known as a leader who wanted to see the military out of politics. But when he had the legal opportunity and prerogative to appoint his Cabinet, he still placed military people in very strategic places like minister of home affairs, minister of trade and industry, minister of communication and transportation and minister of politics and security. Were there no civilians who could fill these jobs or perhaps Abdurrahman did not trust civilian politicians?

The problem now is how to abolish the mistrust and suspicion against the TNI. But again this is not to difficult to achieve. The political parties should consolidate themselves and sincerely fight for the welfare of the people. I have the feeling, which I hope is incorrect, that personal ambitions are guiding the behavior of politicians and causing them to neglect the party's ideals. To restore trust in the military and take away fear of rivalry within the political parties, the government and the House of Representatives should abolish Law No 20/1982 and the MPR decision No. IV/1978.

The dual function of the military is not a product of power hungry officers, but a legal product designed according to existing regulations and TNI performs the dual function because this was considered to be an order.