Activists say state defense program signals return to Suharto’s New Order

Sindo News – October 18, 2015
Students from APMKB protest against State Defense program in West Kalimantan - October 19, 2015 (Tribune)
Students from APMKB protest against State Defense program in West Kalimantan - October 19, 2015 (Tribune)

Jakarta – The Youth Coalition for Indonesia rejects the government’s plan to recruit 100 million state defense cadres that has been concaved by the Ministry of Defense (Kemenhan).

Indonesia Without Militarism (ITM) spokesperson Surya Antara believes that with the establishment of the Defending the State program the country will return to an authoritarian system as was practiced during the New Order dictatorship of former President Suharto.

“This kind of nationalism was practiced during the era of Suharto’s New Order regime. What’s the urgency of the state defense [program], we’re not under attack by any countries”, said Surya during a discussion titled “State Defence for What?” at the Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) on Jl. Diponegoro in Central Jakarta on Sunday October 18.

According to Surya, the justification for the state defense program, to increase the spirit of nationalism, is wrong. This is because the nationalism being socialised in the program will create subjective interpretations by the government.

Moreover the Indonesian nation is not in a state of war as is being experience by other countries. “And in other countries they have already begun to abandon (state defence). It’s as if we’re at total war, yet in democratic terms Indonesia is open”, he said.

Surya is in fact concerned that the government’s desire to recruit state defence cadres will silence the democratic system that is developing in Indonesia. He worries that the state defence recruitment will be used by the state to restrict freedom of speech and at the same time exploit the Indonesian people.

“There is concern that this state defense [program] is to extinguish the flame of resistance in society, to silence the public’s participation in highlighting the state’s [poor] performance, which will generate a paradigm of don’t make a noise, don’t demonstrate, don’t reject the government”, he said in conclusion.

[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the report was Bela Negara Dinilai Bisa Kembalikan Rezim Orde Baru.]