TNI will give up business provided their budget funding is sufficient

Source – November 30, 2004
TNI soldiers load goods on to truck (Indo Progress)
TNI soldiers load goods on to truck (Indo Progress)

M. Rizal Maslan, Jakarta – The TNI (armed forces) says that it will give up its military business provided that its funding through the state budget is realised. This is because soldiers are educated to fight not conduct business.

“Basically soldiers are educated and trained for war and how to win any engagements they are confronted with. Soldiers are not trained to conduct business”, said TNI chief General Endriartono Sutarto following a seminar titled “Concepts on the strategic role of the TNI and intelligence under a democratic state” at the Hotel Gran Melia in Kuningan, South Jakarta, on Tuesday November 30.

Sutarto was responding to questions from journalists on appeals that the TNI actively hand over the military’s businesses to the government. “We are still running these business at the moment because the reality is that the budgetary funds we get for the interests of [soldiers’] welfare is far from adequate. Therefore we must find a solution so that all of their needs are fulfilled in accordance with what is mandated under law”, said Sutarto.

Under the Law on the TNI he explained, it refers to how this funding will be backed up though the state budget. But the reality is that this is still unable to be realised. This means that the mandate of the law cannot yet be realised.

“Because our budget is still far from what is needed. We need to find a way to break though [the problem]. If then the mandate of the law is carried though, the TNI’s businesses will be got rid of. Because this is not something done by a professional military. So go a head by all means”, retorted Sutarto.

How much income is generated by the military businesses? “Hey, I’m not conversant about that. In the case of military businesses it isn’t structured administratively. They are conducting [business] in legal fields. But in essence we agree with getting rid of them”, he said.

So military businesses are not to be handed over the government now?, pressed one of the journalists. “Hopefully in five years we will hand them over. But it depends on whether the government can replace [the funds we get from] them”, said Sutarto.

During the seminar, Sutarto explained again that the TNI accepts that it should be placed under the structure of the department of defense. But this must be done slowly with consideration being given to the timing.

“We don’t oppose the TNI being under the ministry of defense. If that’s what everyone wants, we accept it. But consideration must be given to its timing. We want to make a real contribution to this country, not to instead be counter-productive”, he said.

Under Article 3 of the Law on the position of the TNI, Sutarto admitted that it includes a section on the deployment of troops from the three wings of the TNI under his command which are in the hands of the president. This is also in accordance with the 1945 Constitution and the Law on National Defense.

“And yes, is should be so. We cannot merely look at an ideal arrangement, but must also look at its reality. Certainly we must [strive to] achieve our ideals, placing the TNI under the ministry of defense as a part of the creation of civil supremacy. But if they are not qualified yet, we’ll just wait”, said Sutarto.

He then went on to again talk about the TNI’s political neutrality and that they no longer want to be bound up in practical politics or to a particular political party so that the military can be neutral. “I trust the present minister of defense (Juwono Sudarsono) who is free of political interests. We want it to be done slowly and carefully”, said Sutarto. (sss)

[Translated by James Balowski.]