Faiq Hidayat – The Defense Department will be reviving the Student University Paramilitary Regiment (Menwa) on all campuses throughout Indonesia. The Defense Department’s (Kemenhan) Director of National Defense, First Admiral M. Faisal said that the regiments will be reactivated next year.
“This will show that after so many years we will again be working with the Menwa, previously the Menwa had a legal umbrella. So if necessary it will be attached to several ministries”, he said at the offices of the Defense Department in Jakarta on Tuesday December 9.
According to Faisal, the Menwa has a legal basis founded on the Joint Degree Number 39A/2000 between the minister of defense, the minister of home affairs and the minister for education and culture on the Establishment and Empowerment of the Student Regiment (SKB 3 Menteri).
“The Menwa will now become part of the student activates unit after the SKB 3 Menteri which has protected them since reformasi [the post-1998 reform movement] when they no longer exited”, he said.
Faisal said that they would reestablish the Menwa through local military territorial commands (komando angkatan militer) throughout Indonesia and they would be included in the activities program of government budgets. “The Menwa will be well funded like before, meaning their activities can be programmed and budgeted for again”, he explained.
The move to reactivate the Menwa, according to Faisal, will be coordinated with the Department of Youth and Sport, the Department of Education and Culture and the Department of Research and Higher Education. “We will empower it by trying to coordinate with the four ministries”, he said.
If an agreement between the four ministries can be realised, Faisal believes that the Menwa could also be able to provide values of national defense to other students.
“Our hope is that in the future we can work with the Menwa to pin down the values of national defense so that they can implant the values of national defence with their fellow students. If for example this MoU can be implemented the plan is for it to be within a national defense movement. If this is done immediately that it will possible quite soon”, he explained.
“Perhaps this National Defense Movement [could] be launched and up and running in 2015”, he added.
University paramilitary regiments had their heyday during President Suharto’s New Order dictatorship. University students, mostly male, who applied for membership in the clubs got a set of militaristic paraphernalia, including army-like uniforms, and were often employed by the military as intelligence agents. In the wake of the reform era however, Menwa club members been criticised for their militaristic and abusive behaviour and Menwa members have become the target of assaults by students who associate them with Suharto’s military regime. Many universities, included state-run ones, have abolished the units on campus.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the report was Kemenhan hidupkan lagi Resimen Mahasiswa pada 2015.]