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Proposal for TNI officers to hold civil posts seen as revival of TNI's dual function

Kompas.com - August 8, 2022

Achmad Nasrudin Yahya, Jakarta – A proposal by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan that active TNI (Indonesian military) officers be allowed to occupy positions in state ministries and institutions is seen as an effort to revive the TNI's dual socio-political function (dwifungsi).

Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) Chairperson Muhammad Isnur believes that this effort is in line with government policy moves which have shown signs of reviving the New Order (Orba) regime of former president Suharto.

"Up until now, there have been many policies by the Jokowi [President Joko Widodo] regime which show signs of reviving the authoritarianism of the New Order regime", said Isnur in a press release on Monday August 8.

Isnur gave several examples of the symptoms of the New Order under President Widodo's administration. One of these is efforts to militarise civilians through the Reserve Component (Komcad) system for state civil servants (ASN).

This system is embodied in Minister for Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform (Menpan-RB) Circular Number 27/2021 on the Role of ASN Officials as a Reserve Component in Supporting National Defense Efforts.

"On the other hand, resolving past human rights violations as well as resolving the Papua conflict which involves the TNI has yet to show any clarity", said Isnur.

Isnur also asserted that Panjaitan's proposal to revise Law Number 34/2004 on the TNI is in line with growing signs of authoritarianism. According to Isnur, this discourse poses a serious threat to democracy as a fruit of reformasi – the political reform process that began in 1998.

"Not only that, LBP's (Panjaitan's) statement as a state official is a form or abuse of power and negates the constitution", he asserted.

Earlier, Panjaitan proposed revision to the TNI law so active TNI officers could hold positions in government ministries and institutions.

"[Revising] the TNI Law is actually one of the things that has been needed since I was the Menko Polhukam [coordinating minister for security], that TNI [officers] be assigned to [government] ministries and institutions at the request of the institution and the president's agreement", said Panjaitan during Retired Army Generals Association (PPAD) national meeting on Friday August 5.

According to Panjaitan, if this is realised, there will no longer be any senior Army officers filling unnecessary posts so the Army's performance will be more efficient.

These senior Army officers, said the retired general, will also no longer need to compete over posts because they can follow a carrier outside of military institutions.

"Actually the TNI can could later play a simpler role, and not all TNI officers will have to become KSADs [Army chiefs of staff], they may well not be KSAD but be in a ministry", said Panjaitan.

Panjaitan added that the stipulations which he is proposing are already valid for active Indonesian police officers who can be assigned to government ministries and institutions.

"So I hope that the TNI in this can along with the Kemhan [Defense Ministry] be able to insert an article such as this into revisions to the TNI Law", he said.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Luhut Ingin Revisi UU TNI agar Perwira Aktif Jabat di Kementerian, YLBHI: Gejala Rezim Orba Kembali".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2022/08/08/13074571/luhut-ingin-revisi-uu-tni-agar-perwira-aktif-jabat-di-kementerian-ylbh