Mon, 14 Aug 2000

TNI/Police to leave MPR after 2009

JAKARTA (JP): People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Commission B deliberating draft decrees, proposed on Sunday that the presence of the military and police in the highest law-making body would be maintained until 2009.

The proposal came after mounting criticism lodged against Assembly members, who are convened for their first ever annual session, for their reluctance to put an end to the political role of the armed forces.

The MPR, through Commission A for constitutional amendments, is also deliberating an amendment to the 1945 Constitution which will allow the military and police to stay in the legislative body after their presence in the House of Representatives ends in 2004.

"We have reached an agreement to keep the military and the police in the Assembly until 2009. We're concerned that the servicemen may not be ready to use their rights to vote," Commission B chairman Rambe Kamarulzaman of the Golkar faction told reporters.

"It's only natural for them to be represented in the MPR because they do not vote and are not allowed to stand for election in general elections," he added.

The final decision will be taken at an Assembly plenary session on Tuesday.

Rambe said that apart from the Golkar Party faction, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) faction also agreed to give a further chance to the military and police to play a role in the MPR.

The Crescent Star faction stated during Sunday's meeting that despite its approval for the draft, it was important to set an exact deadline for the pull-out of servicemen from the MPR and the House of Representatives (DPR).

DPR Speaker Akbar Tandjung, meanwhile, shared the commission's opinion, saying that the MPR still needed the contribution of the military and police during the transitional period.

"We can let them go if our civil society is already strong enough and if the demands for the servicemen to be more professional require them to leave the political stage," he said.

Sabam Sirait of PDI Perjuangan, however, denied that there was any horse-trading between the military and civil politicians behind the decision to maintain the military and police presence in the Assembly.

"There were no deals at all. It was us who set the directions of the military rather than the military setting the directions of the people," the senior politician stressed.

Tayo Tarmadi of the TNI/National Police faction said that both institutions were ready to vacate their seats in the Assembly at any time.

"It's been agreed that we'll stay until 2009 in the Assembly. The question now is whether the servicemen and the people are also ready for this," he said.

"We can't do it (leave the political arena) now because we're concerned that military and police personnel will become divided into various political groupings if they are granted the right to vote."

Commission B also proposed the establishment of a body, the name of which remained undecided, to ensure the police's independence and integrity after its separation from the military.

Mutammimul Ula of the Reform faction said the body would be responsible for preventing the police being subjected to outside interference.

"The body would advise the President on directions and policies for the National Police. It would also recommend candidates for chief of the National Police to the President," he said.

Mutammimul likened the planned body to the Ministry of Defense which deals with administrative matters involving the TNI. (nvn)