Thursday, November 10, 2005

Return of the Military

The establishment of the 'anti-terror desk' by the Indonesian Military on the basis of UU No 34/2004 as a reaction to the slow response of the Indonesian police has marked the comeback of the TNI in the Indonesian politics. Whether we like it or not, this decision by the SBY government to rely on the TNI's intelligence service instead of improving the Indonesian police force sent a negative signal to the masses. The assurance given by the TNI that they will act only as the support for the Indonesian police in its fight against terror menace is not enough until it is proven in their action. The long history of the military's domination in the Indonesian politics during the Suharto period, and the fact that President SBY himself was a military officer, cannot rule out this possibility.

The fact that the Indonesian police has partly successful in solving the previous terror cases is a proof that they have the capability to do their works and duty to provide safety to the Indonesian people. Their inability to yet solve the mistery of the recent Bali bombing cannot be regarded as their failure to perform. And instead of establishing the terror desk in the TNI, the Government should have improve that capability of the Detachement 88 of the police force that is responsible for the anti terror actitivities. The resources in the Indonesian intelligence (the BIN) as well as those in the TNI should have been incorporated in this Detachement to increase their capability and not by establishing an anti terror desk within the TNI.

The establishment of the anti-terror desk in the TNI can dilute the responsibility of the TNI as the nation's core defensive force towards foreign threats and subsequently reduce the important role of the police force in their effort to guarante the safety and security of the people.

Thus if the SBY Government is really willing to take the responsibility to assure the safety and security of its people, it should not rely on the TNI but instead it must improve the police force as the vanguard in the fight against terror in Indonesia.


New Delhi
Nov. 2005

This opinion was published in The Jakarta Post Online Letter on 08 November 2005 (