Achmad Nasrudin Yahya, Jakarta – Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial) says that the government is overly simplifying the phrase "low level of nationalism" among young people by involving them in the National Defense Program.
"The state cannot be allowed to simply the problem of low levels of nationalism among young people and the millennial generation at the moment by forcing them to take part in military training", said Imparsial research coordinator Ardi Manto Adiputra in a written release on Wednesday August 19.
Adiputra believes that the low sense of nationalism or spirit of national defense among young people cannot be separated from the internal factor of the government.
This is because the government has never provided any education by setting a good example for society. He gave the example of corruption which is still widespread among government officials and agencies.
Then there are the many cases of human rights violations which are never resolved, parties who damage the environment but are never punished, and the problem of socio-economic inequality which remains extremely high in Indonesia.
"These are some of the reasons for the low consciousness about national defense among the majority of the younger generation in Indonesia", he said.
On the other hand, Adiputra said, national defense and military training are conceptually two different things.
According to Adiputra, national defence is something each person can take part in as a profession in the interests of defending the nation and the state.
Meanwhile military training is preparations to form a national defense reserve component. Meaning, he said, that national defense is obligatory while military training is voluntary.
"So combining the two concepts are steps and actions which are mistaken because it starts out from a erroneous understanding", said Adiputra.
The Department of Defense is currently sounding out cooperation with the Ministry of Education and Culture (Kemendikbud) to recruit university students for military training through the National Defense Program (Program Bela Negara).
"Later, in one semester, they can take part in military training, the assessment can be included in the SKS [Semester Credit Units] which are taken. This is one of the things we are discussing doing with the Kemendikbud", said Deputy Defense Minister (Wamenhan) Sakti Wahyu Trenggono in a written release on Sunday August 16.
Trenggono said that the move represents an effort by the government so that the millennial generation is not just creative and innovative, but so they also have a love of the nation and the state in their daily lives.
According to Trenggono the millennial generation's love for the country can also be shown through the national defense program. This is in accordance with Law Number 23/2019 on the Management of National Resources for National Defense.
Trenggono emphasised that the National Defense Program is not military conscription saying that it's only to build a consciousness in society to defend the country in the event of war.
Because of this, if the public wants to join in it will be facilitated by providing one month's military training. "After the training they will be return to society. If the country is in a state of war, they will be ready to fight", he said.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Imparsial: Pemerintah Terlalu Menyederhanakan Nasionalisme dalam Program Bela Negara".]