Ansyor Idrus and Ridwan Max Sijabat, Jakarta – The clash between members of the Indonesian Military (TNI) and the National Police in Ogan Komering Ulu in South Sumatra has sparked calls for the two security forces to expedite reform.
Effendy Choirie, a member of Commission I on defense, information and foreign affairs at the House of Representatives, said the conflict between soldiers and police officers would never end unless internal reforms in the two security institutions were completed.
"The attack by a group of combat soldiers on the police office in Ogan Komering Ulu on Thursday is the latest of 32 clashes between soldiers and the police in the field since the two institutions separated in 1999," the lawmaker said.
"The latest dispute has a lot to do with the police's arrogance and the military's presence in villages, subdistricts and regencies in implementing its territorial function."
The House's commission will send a team to Ogan Komering Ulu next week to investigate the incident that has exposed the tension between the two institutions.
Eight police personnel were hospitalized and the precinct police headquarters and eight police posts in Ogan Komering Ulu were burned down when almost 100 artillery troops from the Army's military training center in Baturaja launched an assault in connection with the killing of a fellow soldier in January.
Ogan Komering Ulu military district chief Lt. Col. Immanulhak confirmed on Friday that the soldiers launched the attack when rumors circulated that the traffic policeman who shot their comrade had been sentenced to five years in prison.
"The local police are actually still preparing the case dossier to be submitted to the district attorney's office, for prosecution," he said. The soldiers, he said, ran amok when the police failed to give a satisfactory explanation about the progress of their investigation.
Ogan Komering Ulu precinct police head Adj. Sr. Comr. Azis Saputra said that he had talked with the soldiers amicably and did not understand why they ended up running amok.
Major Gen. (ret.) Saurip Kadi, former assistant to the Army chief of territorial affairs, said the TNI should liquidate its military districts and posts in rural areas, subdistricts and districts and pull all soldiers back to barracks in order to end its much-criticized territorial function.
"In line with the state defense law, soldiers should be kept in barracks in peaceful conditions, and only deployed to border areas and armed conflict regions to maintain the country's integration, or to help the police fight against terrorism," he said.
He added that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in his capacity as head of state and commander in chief of the TNI, should take the initiative in evaluating the TNI's reform, which he claimed had been sluggish.
House deputy speaker Pramono Anung said that both institutions needed to evaluate the scope of their powers, as they often overlapped. "There's a wide gap between the police and the military. Prior to the reform era, the TNI was more dominant compared to the police. The situation has now flipped; the police have become more active in engaging with society," he said.
Deputy Chairman of the Regional Representative Council (DPD) Laode Ida called on the President to complete the internal reorganization and fight against the culture of corruption within the police.
"No service is given by the police without money and the corruption has become systemic in the police since they took over the public security role from the military," he said, and referred to graft suspect Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo who is alleged to own at least 11 luxurious houses in Jakarta.
According to Laode the police should be put under the jurisdiction of the Home Ministry, instead of the President.