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Abri needs bigger budget, says general

Straits Times - March 21, 1997

Jakarta – Indonesia's special forces chief Major-General Prabowo Subianto says the country's armed forces (Abri) need a larger budget to improve their professionalism, the official Antara news agency reported yesterday.

"Our defence budget is still the smallest in the South-east Asian region because indeed the government has prioritised economic development," Maj-Gen Subianto told a conference of Indonesian social scientists in a rare public speech.

"However, a larger investment in this field is needed to raise the armed forces' professionalism," said Maj-Gen Subianto, who is President Suharto's son-in-law.

He said Indonesia's defence budget, almost US$3 billion (S$4.2 billion) last year, was between 1.3-1.6 per cent of the nation's gross national product (GNP), whereas neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia spent between 3 and 6 per cent of their GNP.

He said in the era of fast-moving globalisation, Indonesian soldiers needed to be better educated and their skills upgraded in a number of areas, highlighting the examples of proficiency in the use of English and computers.

Maj-Gen Subianto, 45, was promoted last year to a two-star general after the special forces, known as Kopassus, was boosted from combat strength of 3,000 to around 4,800. He is the youngest general of his rank. – Reuters.