Friday, October 07, 2005

A motive for the Bali Bombs of 2005? A return of the military's territorial function?


President Suharto introduced the military's territorial function in the late 1960s as part of his efforts to control the political life of the people down to the village level.

The military controlled each village and town and city and region.

The Bali Bombs of 2005 may have been designed to allow the military to restore its territorial function.


Jakartass, 7 October 2005, writes about the Indonesian military (known as TNI), President Yudhoyono (known as SBY) and recent events:

Is SBY cunning?

...I'm referring to my posting yesterday when he 'allowed' the TNI chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto to suggest that it would be good to restore the military territorial function.

The backlash has been quite acerbic.

Yesterday former president Abdurrahman 'Gus Dur' Wahid said, "Reviving the territorial command is the wrong medicine for the disease we are dealing with. The move is only a tool to revive militarism. We should oppose that kind of intention as early as possible."

He added, "Who can guarantee that reviving it will make the country any safer? I don't think so. What is certain is that it will bring the country back to an authoritarian state."

Other politicians agreed.

What SBY may have done is to allow Sutarto to show that he remains a committed Suhartoist.

With the country coming to grips with its newly gained democratic freedoms, SBY has cleared the way for his choice of TNI chief, a change that is now (over)due.

The key question is, of course, who.

At least SBY now has a freer hand in his selection, freer in that the country clearly wants someone who fits the profile suggested by Effendy Choirie, the Deputy chairman of House Commission I on Defense and Foreign Affairs."We don't want a TNI chief who interferes in political or business issues. We want someone who cares about the welfare and professionalism of soldiers as defenders of the country."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Indonesian military (TNI) to reactivate its territorial function?

Speaking at the 60th anniversary of the TNI yesterday, after the latest attack on Bali, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called upon the Indonesian Military (TNI) to be active in the fight against terrorism.

Interpreting the President's order, TNI chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto said that he would take some necessary measures to crack down terror acts in the country by reactivating the military's territorial function, which in the past had been strongly criticized for massive involvement of the military in politics and alleged human rights abuses.

Handling terrorism in the country has so far been the domain of the National Police, who have been mandated to deal with internal security affairs following the reform movement in the late 1990s.

That there was a lack of warning about last Saturday's bombings in Bali is undoubted, but it is the nature of these particular groups to remain below the intelligence radar.

One could blame the intelligence services here, now seemingly split into three, the police, the military and the State Intelligence Agency (BIN)...

A.M. Hendropriyono, the former head of BIN, who has denied any role in the death of human rights activist Munir in spite of strong suspicions, has a suggestion.What is needed is ... an intelligence law in order to enable BIN to detain suspects for limited periods...

Indonesians I've spoken to today, including 'Er Indoors, are worried about a return to the 'bad old days' of the Suharto regime which used the military to stifle dissension and, in its final phase, staged 'disappearances' of those deemed to be against the regime.

...The current chief of BIN, Sjamsir Siregar, was a former BIA chief during the heyday of the Soeharto regime....

Note the failure of the British intelligence services to protect Londoners against the bombers on July 7th. In fact, it would appear that intelligence services in every country which has experienced terrorist outrages have 'failed'. Introducing, or, in Indonesia's case, reintroducing, draconian laws cannot prevent further outrages...

According to research published this week, out of 1,137 people from 33 provinces interviewed in the survey on civilian supremacy and national defense, 55 percent to 58 percent of them disapproved of the territorial military commands at district, regional and provincial levels.

The survey revealed, unsurprisingly, that 82.2 percent of those interviewed agreed that the military's main role was to defend the state from external threats.

Meanwhile, legislator Effendy Choiry from Commission I on security, defense and foreign affairs said he believed many in the military had no intention of letting civilians take away their special political and economic powers.

"Don't heap the blame on legislators or the failure of civilians. We all are still learning, so give us a chance. The military has reigned supreme for years," he said....


General Sutarto, while in East Timor, would have been one of those responsible for organising the scorched earth policy.




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