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Opposition to draft TNI a foreign plot: Army chief

Kompas – July 28, 2004

Jakarta, Antara – Army chief of staff General Ryamizard Ryacudu has suggested that opposition against the draft law on the TNI (armed forces) within a number of circles is because of interference by foreigners who want to divide and weaken the Indonesian nation.

Ryacudu made the statement following an event commemorating the 54th anniversary of the Gatot Soebroto army hospital Jakarta on Monday July 26 saying that the TNI does not intend to use the draft law to go back to “bearing its teeth” as it did during the New Order regime of former President Suharto.

According to Ryacudu the strength of national defense and the Indonesian state is based on strength and professionalism of TNI officers in carrying out their function as the guardians of the sovereignty and integrity of the nation and state.

“If there are parties who reject the draft law on the TNI this indicates the existence of foreign forces who want to interfere in order to divide the unity and integrity of the nation and Indonesian state”, he said.

Criticism against the draft law has persisted within a number of circles who are of the view that the law does not fulfill the concept of an integrated armed forces which is a global necessity. They believe that the draft law which has been presented to the parliament for deliberation still prioritises the army’s role in territorial control.

A number of circles also consider that the draft law indicates the existence of an effort to bring the dual social and political role of ABRI [the former name of the Indonesian Armed Forces] back to life.

The law is also considered to be a threat to democracy in Indonesia over the next five years, particularly in relation to Article 9 (d) which reads “The army has the duty to carry out territorial development in accordance with the its role and authority as well as building TNI’s unity with the people”.

The stipulations of this article, aside from bringing the territorial commands back to life, also functions to enable the military to monitor the political life of the people down to the lowest levels. This is in contradiction with the last six years of struggle to create freedom of expression and association. (ANT)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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