Jakarta – The Civil Society Coalition has launched a petition opposing the revival of the TNI’s (Indonesian military) dual socio-political function (dwi-fungsi ABRI). The petition, which can be accessed at change.org, is titled Reject the Revival of the ABRI Dwi-fungsi Through the Placement of TNI in Civil Institutions.
The petition, which is addressed to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and House of Representatives (DPR) speaker Bambang Soesatyo, was signed by several civil society organisations including the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial) and the Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy.
The groups hope that the planned restructuring and reorganisation of the TNI will not conflict with the agenda of military reform. They insist that the restructuring of the TNI must be in accordance with Presidential Regulation Number 62/2016 on the Organisational Structure of the TNI.
“We believe that the planned placement of active military [officers] in civilian posts through revisions to the UU TNI [TNI Law] is inappropriate. The placement of active TNI [officers] in civilian posts could revive the function of the military being assigned to civil posts which in the past was based on the doctrine of dwi-fungsi ABRI which has been abolished since reformasi”, reads the petition.
Under the New Order regime of former president Suharto – when the TNI was known as the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) – active military officers were directly appointed to civilian posts such as regional heads and were fully involved in the civilian administration.
This however ended with the era of reformasi [the political reform process that began in 1998] in concert with Suharto’s resignation as president. Since then until today, the TNI’s duties have been limited to national defense.
On the other hand, the government has already allowed for some civil position to be held by active TNI officers under Article 47 of Law Number 34/2004 on the Indonesian Military.
These positions include the Coordinating Minister for Security, Politics and Legal Affairs (Menko Polhukam), the Presidential Military Secretary, the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), the State Encryption Agency (LSN), the National Resilience Institute (Lemhanas), the National Defense Council (Watannas), National Search and Rescue (SAR), the National Narcotics Agency (BBN) and the Supreme Court.
“In this context, the planned expansion so that active military [officers] can hold posts in other ministries through revisions to the UU TNI is of course not in accordance with the agenda of TNI reform and will revive the function of the military being assigned to civil posts which has already been abolished”, wrote the Civil Society Coalition in the petition.
“The expansion of TNI forces must be prevented from organisational forms which could become an opportunity for practical political interests and organisation which do not always follow the structure of government administration”, reads the petition.
The groups are of the view that the restructuring and reorganisation of the TNI can be done in so far as it strengthens the TNI’s function in safeguarding national defense and strengthening military units which have a combat function.
They also suggest that the TNI reform its promotion and assignment system so that it is genuinely based on competence and pursues a program of zero growth in order to overcome the inequalities between recruitment and the structure of TNI posts.
This point was proposed in the petition because TNI chief Air Martial Hadi Tjanjanto earlier stated that they would place active officers in civilian posts in order to address the hundreds of high- and middle-ranking officers in the TNI who have no job.
The petition was launched on Friday February 15 and as of late Monday February 18 it had been signed by 1,824 people. (chri/pmg)
The petition can be signed here: https://www.change.org/p/tolak-kembalinya-dwi-fungsi-abri-melalui-penempatan-tni-di-lembaga-sipil
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Koalisi Sipil Galang Petisi Tolak Bangkitnya Dwifungsi ABRI”.]