M. Rizal Maslan, Jakarta – The Armed Forces Veterans Association (Pepabri) supports TNI (armed forces) chief General Endriartono Sutarto’s policy of TNI members participating in regional elections but being put on a non-active status and that those who participate must be prepared to win or loose.
“As citizens, members of the TNI and Indonesian national police have political rights, [whether they] use them or not [they have] the right to participate in the nominations for the upcoming regional elections. But [they] must be non-active and not allowed to wear uniforms anymore”, the general chairperson of Pepabri, retired Inspector General Putera Astaman, explained to journalists during a break in Pepabri’s National Working Meeting at the Hotel Kartika Chandra in Jakarta on Wednesday May 4.
According to Astaman, Sutarto’s policy of allowing TNI members to take part in the nominations is in accordance with existing laws. Pepabri only asks that TNI members who participate must be prepared to accept it if they win or loose.
Pepabri is therefore appealing to the community of retired officers and army widows to make proper use of their political rights and on the condition that if they are elected they will work for the benefit of the electorate. “It’s up to them if the candidate is a civilian or a non-active TNI [member]. Whoever is elected, Pepabri will stick to the principles of trust, hope, conscience and the political rights of each respective [person]”, he said.
Udju S Dinata, the head of Pepabri’s department of social and political affairs meanwhile, confirmed that there is concern within some circles that the TNI and police are becoming involved in politics again. “Actually, for Pepabri holding the view that there is a dichotomy between the civilian and military, Islam and non-Islam, old and young, Javanese and [non-Javanese – word missing JB] is not a dangerous virus which is spreading”, he explained.
Dinata added that Pepabri has never given any thought to or accepted tolerance toward this social dichotomy. According to Dinata, allowing TNI members to participate in the nominations is in accordance with existing laws. “That is the political right of every citizen, [whether it] is used or not, why make an issue out of it. If an issue is made out of it, this represents a overly sensitive attitude”, he said.
Dinata explained that of course the policies of the TNI and police leadership in relation to this issue have been carefully considered. The concern that there will be a split within the TNI or police explained Dinata has no basis and will never happen.
Concerns that the participation of TNI members in the nominations will influence soldier’s professionalism also have no foundation. The government, in this case the TNI continued Dinata, will of course give consideration to excesses that exist in order that friction doesn’t occur within the TNI as an institution.
“I don’t think it will undermine the professionalism [of the TNI or police]. Because professionalism is also determined by other factors. No matter how may soldiers take part in nominating themselves out of the total number of soldiers in Indonesia I guarantee that it will not happen”, said Dinata. (zal)
[Translated by James Balowski.]