Minister expects active officers to maintain neutrality in civilian posts

CNN Indonesia – February 19, 2019
Coordination Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan (CNN)
Coordination Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan (CNN)

Jakarta – Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan expects that active TNI (Indonesian military) and Polri (National Police) officers will maintain their neutrality if they hold posts in government.

Pandjaitan’s remarks were in response to a plan for active TNI and Polri officers to hold posts in government ministries and institutions. He said that the government will be discussing the possibility of active officers being able to enter government.

“However, it must not violate the neutrality of the two institutions, and be in accordance with their basic duties”, he said after presenting a public lecture to students from the North Sumatra University at the USU Auditorium in Medan, as quoted by the Antara state news agency on Tuesday February 19.

Pandjaitan said that the placement of TNI and Polri officers would only be valid for government agencies which have the need for people with the background and experience that can be provided by TNI or Polri officers.

He cited for example several agencies which are under the Ministry of Maritime Affairs which need people who understand about territorial affairs, strategy the challenges that will be faced.

“It will also then be easier to coordinate with the TNI-Polri to decide on government targets in the related agencies”, he said.

Earlier, TNI chief Air Martial Hadi Tjahjanto stated that they plan to revise the law on the TNI so that high- and middle-ranking officers can serve in government ministries and state institutions.

This was in response to efforts to reorganise the TNI in order to address the 500 or so senior TNI officers who currently do not hold posts. These active officers will later be able to occupy positions equivalent to echelon I and II in related ministries and agencies.

House of Representatives (DPR) Commission I member Supiadin Aries Saputra earlier stated that the dual socio-political function of the TNI (dwi-fungsi) must not be revived because it is not in accordance with the mandate of reformasi – the reform process that began in 1998.

The Civil Society Coalition has also rejected the revival of the TNI’s dwi-fungsi and has launched a petition at titled Reject the Revival of the ABRI Dwi-fungsi Through the Placement of TNI in Civil Institutions.

They believe that the plan to place active offices in civilian posts by revising the TNI law is wrong and say that the restructuring of the TNI should be in accordance with Presidential Regulation Number 62/2016 on the Organisational Structure of the TNI.

TNI information centre chief Major General Sisriadi says that the TNI has already undergone a transformation since reformasi. He claims that the ABRI [Indonesian Armed Forces] dwi-fungsi pocket book which was a reference during the New Order regime of former president Suharto has been put aside since reformasi. (Antara/pmg)

The Civil Society Coalition petition can be signed here:

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Luhut Ingin Perwira TNI/Polri di Pemerintahan Jaga Netralitas”.]