Ihsanuddin, Jakarta – A number of retired Indonesian Air Force (TNI AU) officers who are members of Elang Indonesia Maju (Onward Indonesian Eagles) have declared their support for the presidential and vice presidential candidate pair number 3, Ganjar Pranowo and Mahfud MD.
Former Air Force chief-of-staff (KSAU) and head of Elang Indonesia Maju, retired Air Martial Agus Supriatna, said that they chose former Central Java governor Pranowo and former security chief Mahfud because they were seen as having the best track record among the candidates.
"From these great choices, the ones that have more than the others are Pak [Mr] Ganjar and Pak Mahfud, that's why we are all choosing Ganjar-Mahfud", said Supriatna in Kuningan, South Jakarta, on Wednesday February 7.
Supriatna explained that the group chose to declare their support for the pair after looking at a variety of problems, from ethical violations by the Constitutional Court and the General Elections Commission (KPU) to the distribution of social aid that is seen as unethical.
"It was from here that in the end we gathered to discuss analysing these problems, that we formed up to declare this", he said.
Meanwhile former Air Force deputy-chief-of-staff Dede Nursyamsi, who is the general chairperson of Elang Indonesia Maju, stated that a soldier who has been dismissed from the military is not fit to become president.
He noted that in the world of the military, a lieutenant colonel (letkol) or colonel who has been dismissed from the military would be treated with distain.
"If we are in a [military] unit, if only a letkol, a colonel is dismissed from the TNI [Indonesian military], their clothes are torn up, ripped open, disparaged, their buttons down to their belt", said Nursyamsi.
Therefore he hasn't been able to stop thinking about a dismissed soldier becoming president. The reason being that later the president will inaugurate TNI and Polri (Indonesian police) officers who have just graduated from the academy.
"You can imagine, these men, all of the alumni from the TNI Academy, inaugurated by the president, then we see from a complete position, yes, the president was once dismissed, where is the reasoning in this", said Nursyamsi.
The chairperson of the Pranowo-Mahfud national campaign team, Arsjad Rasjid, believes that the backing of Elang Indonesia Maju represents moral support ahead of voting day in just one week.
"What we got today is a new energy, an energy booster which I say is for Mas [Brother] Ganjar and Pak Mahfud. We are grateful for the courage and also the fortitude of the mothers and fathers, retired Air Force officers", said Rasjid.
Former Army Special Forces (Kopassus) commander Lieutenant General Prabowo Subianto, who is running as a presidential candidate in the 2024 elections alongside President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's eldest son Gibran Rakabuming Raka, was dishonorably discharged from the TNI after a military tribunal found him guilty of illegally ordering soldiers from Kopassus' Rose Team and the Merpati Task Force to arrest and detain some 23 pro-democracy activists in 1997-98. Thirteen of the abducted activists remain missing to this day and are presumed dead.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Purnawirawan TNI AU Deklarasi Dukung Ganjar-Mahfud, Sindir Pecatan Tentara Tak Layak jadi Presiden".]