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TNI commander's 'multi-fungsi' statement harks back to New Order era: Imparsial

Kompas.com - June 7, 2024

Aryo Putranto Saptohutomo, Jakarta – A statement by TNI (Indonesian military) commander General Agus Subiyanto, who said that currently they are not dwi-fungsi (dual-function) but are multi-functional, is considered wrong because it deviates from the practice of separating military and civilian roles in a democratic system.

"The TNI commander's statement is a view that is wrong and eronious. Considering that Indonesia is a country that adheres to a democratic political system, there must be a separation between civilian and military domains", said Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial) Director Gufron Mabruri in a statement received by Kompas.com on Friday June 7.

Mabruri said the military is educated and prepared to face war (national defense). They are not trained to take care of public service-oriented civil affairs.

"Therefore, seen from the principle of democracy the presence of the military outside the field of national defense violates the governance and values of a democratic country", said Mabruri.

Mabruri also took the example of people's lives during the New Order era of former president Suharto. At that times the state "approved" the military's involvement in civilian affairs, including politics, so that it often became a force to strike out at groups that were critical or had different views from the government.

As a result, the administration under the New Order deviated from the principles of democracy.

"Indonesia is no longer in an era of authoritarian like the New Order era where the military was present in every aspect of people's lives", said Mabruri.

Earlier it was reported that Subiyanto's statement was made amid a wave of criticism against planned revisions to the TNI Law. According to Subianto, the TNI is currently involved all kinds of things, so he asked the public not to worry about ABRI's dwi-fungsi – referring the TNI's name during the New Order era.

"Now it's not ABRI's dwi-fungsi anymore, ABRI's multi-fungsi. We're [in] everything. There's a disaster, we're there. Right? Please. So don't think like that. Democracy right", said Subianto at the parliamentary building in Senayan, Jakarta, on Thursday June 6.

Subianto gave as an example of the TNI's role in handling the separatist conflict in Papua. He said that there, the TNI was involved in providing services from health to education.

"Now in Papua. The ones teaching are my members, the TNI. Then health services, my members. Then do you now call this ABRI's dwi-fungsi or multi-fungsi? We don't think like that. We're for the good of the country", Subianto explained.

There are a number of proposals in the latest draft revision to the TNI Law that have triggered a polemic.

In a draft received by Kompas.com, Article 47 Paragraph (1) of the TNI Bill reads, "Soldiers can only occupy civilian positions after resigning or retiring from active service as a soldier".

But then Paragraph (2) reads, "Active soldiers can occupy positions in offices that have expertise in coordinating political affairs and state security, state defense, the presidential military secretariat, state intelligence, state cyber security, the National Resilience Institute, the National Defense Council, National Search and Rescue (SAR), national narcotics and the Supreme Court along with other ministries/institutions that need the work and expertise of active soldiers in accordance with presidential policy".

Soldiers can also occupy positions in ministries or state institutions based on a request by the leadership of the ministries and non-ministry government institutions and are subject to prevailing administrative provisions.

"The appointment and dismissal of positions for soldiers as referred to in Paragraph 2 is carried out in accordance with the needs of the relevant ministries and government institutions concerned", reads Paragraph (4).

Then, the administration of the careers of soldiers that occupy civilian positions is carried out by the TNI commander in collaboration with the leadership of the ministries and the relevant non-ministry government agencies.

Further provisions will be stipulated in a government regulation.

The other issue that has also been in the spotlight is the proposal to extend the retirement age of military officers from 58 to 60 years.

In the draft received by Kompas.com, Article 53 Paragraph (1) of the current TNI Law will be amended as follows, "Soldiers shall carry out their military service until a maximum age of 60 for senior officers and a maximum age of 58 for privates and lower ranking non-commissioned officers".

Then, in paragraph (2), specifically for functional positions, soldiers can carry out their military service until a maximum age of 65 in accordance with statutory provisions.

The Draft TNI Law (RUU TNI) also accommodates the extension of the period of military service twice for senator officers (pati) with the rank of four-star general.

"Specifically for four-star senior-ranking officers, soldiers can extend the period of their military service a maximum of two time which is determined by a presidential decree", reads paragraph (3).

Meanwhile the extension of the military service period as referred to in Paragraph (3) is valid for a maximum of two years and/or can be extended again in accordance with the president's approval.

Further provisions on the period of military service will be stipulated by a government regulation.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Panglima Sebut TNI Multifungsi, Imparsial: Salah dan Keliru".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2024/06/07/15291571/panglima-sebut-tni-multifungsi-imparsial-salah-dan-kelir