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TNI cannot submit to civil authority: Sutrisno

Kompas – March 28, 2004

Surabaya – The Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) cannot be placed under the authority of the civilian government. The TNI must be involved in politics because the TNI is not a tool of the government.

This issue was taken up by retired General Try Sutrisno when presenting a public lecture at the Surabaya Juang Building in East Java on Saturday March 27.

He said that the TNI is not the same as the military in other countries because the TNI is a people’s military. “The TNI was born out of the people. Therefore the TNI must be involved in politics together with the people”, said the former vice-president.

According to the former armed forces chief, the TNI must be involved in politics in order to prevent the breakup of Indonesia. “Almost all of the generals have such a view. So, the TNI is not involved in politics for the sake of a [particular] group, but for the unity of Indonesia”, he said.

He said that one of the TNI’s political goals is to prevent the sabotage of the general elections. The elections must be a success, especially since recent elections in other countries have run smoothly. “We have to discard the culture where success [is defined in terms] of overthrowing the president. It is time for us to apply [a definition] of democratic success though elections”, he said.

Sutrisno said that he would not be nominating himself as a presidential candidate because there are already many other candidates who are ready to be nominated. “The population of Indonesia is 210 million, so a presidential candidate is just one of them”, he said.

He rejected the view that he is using the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (PKPI) as a tool for his nomination. According to Sutrisno, it is too naïve to establish or support a political party if you just want to become president. “We should support a party because [we are] convinced of that party’s ideology”, he said.

Opposed to direct elections

He also opposed the direct election of the president. According to Sutrisno, this format lacks democratic control. “The people are not ready yet. We blame a system which is good just because those who use it are wrong”, he said.

According to Sutrisno, in accordance with the principles of the democratic state of Indonesia, democracy is consultative democracy. “That is the mandate of [the state ideology of] Pancasila, so this is violated by applying direct democracy”, he said.

He said that all of this began with amendments to the 1945 Constitution which resulted in the Constitution loosing its original values. “The amendments were carried out without reference to the original values of the 1945 Constitution”, he said. (S08)

[Translated by James Balowski.]

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