- Discover Indonesia Online

You are currently in > Just a blog about Indonesia > TNI uses Bali bombing to reassert political role

TNI uses Bali bombing to reassert political role JAKARTA - Attending a ceremony to mark the 60th anniversary of the Indonesian military (TNI) on October 5, just days after the deadly bombing in Bali, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono instructed the TNI to "take part in effectively curbing, preventing and acting against terrorism".

Despite the fact that defence and intelligence analysts have repeatedly blamed poor coordination between intelligence units and unpopular government policies for the string of terrorist attacks over the last three years, the TNI immediately seized on the statement to justify reactivating its regional territorial command network. This was led by Yudhoyono himself when he was an active three-star general, and under the Suharto dictatorship it allowed the TNI to play a political role at all levels of society, leading to rampant human rights abuses.

Speaking on the sidelines of the ceremony, TNI chief General Endriartono Sutarto said: "The government has given us [the TNI] a clear order to participate in the war against terrorism. First, we will raise the public awareness about the condition of people's neighbourhoods. Second, we will also activate the territorial command up to the village level, and third, of course, we will share intelligence information with other institutions, especially the police."

Sensitive to public concerns over the move, defence minister Juwono Sudarsono told the public that the TNI would have no powers of arrest. This was later contradicted by Ansja'ad Mbai from the office of the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, who told the Jakarta Post that the TNI could arrest suspected terrorists before handing them over to the police. "If we want the whole country to be protected from any kind of terror threats, then we must empower all elements of this nation to take part in the war on terror. Even regional military commanders should be authorised to arrest terror suspects", he said following an October 11 meeting on security affairs.


Assigned down to the village level, non-commissioned officers called Babinsa were once the vanguard of the TNI's territorial command, or Koter, living in local communities and monitoring and reporting "suspicious" residents to the intelligence authorities.

This began to be curtailed followings Suharto's overthrow in 1998. After the TNI was separated from the police in 2003, many of the roles of military intelligence and community policing were given to police, while the Babinsa's duties were confined to collecting strategic intelligence data.

The military has constantly resisted calls for Koter to be dismantled. As well as entrenching the TNI's political power, Koter also provides huge business opportunities -- protection rackets, gambling, prostitution, monopolies on commodity distribution and bribes from business.

TNI's political role

Yet critics, including top politicians and rights groups, say reactivating Koter could pave the way for the TNI to reassert its repressive role. According to People's Consultative Assembly speaker Hidayat Nurwahid, the move is inappropriate and the function of the police and National Intelligence Agency (BIN) should be maximised first. He added that he feared it would create conflict between military and police officers in the field.

Ikrar Nusabhakti, a researcher at the National Institute of Science, said it could pave the way for the TNI to reenter politics or legitimise rights abuses. "During the New Order [Suharto] regime, the military -- read: the Army -- maintained these (territorial) roles mostly for political purposes, and their mindset is yet to change as of today", Nusabhakti told the October 6 Jakarta Post.

In a press release issued on October 11, the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) said that under the New Order, "the presence of the TNI from the national level (TNI headquarters), Kodam, Korem, Kodim, Koramil and even Babinsa became a tool to control and limit political space. It is this social and political function of Koter that is of concern, that it will return Indonesia to the era of authoritarianism under the New Order." YLBHI noted that Jakarta military commander Major General Agustadi Sasongko Purnomo has already announced that 1680 Babinsa will be reactivated throughout the city.

In a joint statement issued on October 13, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), the Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy, YLBHI and the Human Rights Working Group warned it would be a "blow to people's freedom". Describing the plan as a "major blow to democracy", Usman Hamid from Kontras said at a joint press conference that "The plan views civilians as part of the terror threat, while in fact it could be the security officers who are the threat [to the people]."

According to an October 12 report, the TNI is already targeting traditional Islamic boarding schools or pesantrens. Nurwahid told Detik that he had information that Babinsa had been visiting pesantrens to ask about the out-of-school activities of the schools' Islamic scholars. At a press conference in Jakarta on October 17, House of Representatives speaker Agung Laksono said: "No longer [can] they go along with determining which pesantrens or schools must be closed down. Don't imitate the measures that were used by the New Order."

Public resistance

Media reports and recent surveys indicate widespread public opposition to the plan. A survey by the Indonesian Research Institute released on October 4 found that a clear majority believe Koter should be abolished. Of 1137 people from 33 provinces, 55-58% of respondents disapproved of Koter at district, regional and provincial levels. The survey also found that 82.2% of those interviewed agreed that the military's main role was to defend the state from external threats.

In an op-ed piece in the October 8 Jakarta Post titled "Military fight against terrorism could be the terror itself", the paper warned that as well as being a breach of the reform spirit, the move could herald the return of "secret abductions, detention without trial, torture and the extra-judicial killings of those who are deemed militants or a threat to the state".

"Still fresh in the nation's memory are the abductions of at least 12 men, mostly activists in a military operation in 1997. An investigation only recently declared these men had died in the hands of their abductors, but no one has yet been brought to trial for their deaths", said the paper.

An October 10 Jakarta Post editorial speculated that the president wants to use the Bali bombings as cover to test the public's reaction to the revival of the TNI's role in domestic security and public order. "Going by media reports", it said, "there is indeed a great deal of public resistance to the idea of the military renewing its political role, although many people acknowledge the TNI could play an important role in the war against terror. But, after the abuses of power and rights violations during the Suharto era, people remain wary of giving the military too much power.

"We must use every available means to eradicate terrorism, but at the same time we have to stick to our democratic principles. True, the internal security acts in Singapore and Malaysia are effective in the short term, but at what cost to civil society? The TNI can play a key role in the war against terror without returning to it the powers it enjoyed under Suharto. But will the TNI accept this?"

Tougher anti-terror laws

The government was also quick to take advantage of the bombings to gain support to enact tough anti-terror laws.

Speaking at an event by the Islamic Student Association's Corps of Alumni on October 15, vice-president Jusuf Kalla didn't mince words: "Like it or not the government must take measures which are tough and resolute, no different from what was done during the New Order era."

National Police chief General Sutanto said Indonesia urgently needed tougher legislation, pointing to the Internal Security Acts in Malaysia and Singapore, as well as tough anti-terror laws in the US and other countries that "give room to the police to move quickly and effectively" against the terrorists. "For us, in order to arrest a suspect ... we have to submit [evidence] to the court first", he told Agence France Presse on October 15. "This needs time ... It is not fast enough." On the same day, Sudarsono told the Jakarta Post that the government was considering enacting "emergency legislation" to deal with terrorism.

Support also came from former National Intelligence Agency (BIN) director A.M. Hendropriyono, who lamented the failure to pass a law that would have allowed BIN to detain suspects for limited periods. He said operatives needed the ability to "discretely take aside" members of radical organisations in an attempt to entice them into providing information from inside terrorist cells. Receiving intelligence in this manner, BIN could better anticipate terrorist acts before they took place.

A recent report by a fact-finding team investigating last year's murder of renowned human-rights activist Munir found evidence linking BIN to his death and strongly recommended that Hendropriyono be questioned by police in relation to the case.

Posted in Military @ 23 October 2005 by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

There are no reactions on this blog entry yet. Be the first one to give a reaction here!

Log in to write a reaction

You are not logged in to the website. You have to be logged in to write a reaction on this blog entry.

· If you already have an account, please login.
· If you have lost your password, please retrieve it.
· If you don't have an account yet, you can create one.

Add this blog entry to your email, your own blog, MySpace, Facebook, or whatsoever via AddThis:
Bookmark and Share

e-mail updates for this blog article

Login if you want to receive emails for reactions on this blog entry. You will receive an update as soon as a reaction on this blog entry is posted.

Your website for tickets in Indonesia!
Looking for e-tickets for flights in Indonesia? Here's your solution! Order your e-tickets at
· 2015, 28 entries
· 2014, 591 entries
· 2013, 750 entries
· 2012, 1061 entries
· 2011, 792 entries
· 2010, 644 entries
· 2009, 916 entries
· 2008, 504 entries
· 2007, 725 entries
· 2006, 1014 entries
· 2005, 723 entries
· 2004, 558 entries
· 2003, 525 entries
· 2002, 375 entries
· 2001, 162 entries
· gigolo
· jakarta
· blogger
Automatically generated every hour
· General (1205 entries)
· Economy (643 entries)
· Politics (574 entries)
· Accidents (561 entries)
· Terrorism (541 entries)
· Earthquake (539 entries)
· Volcanoes (387 entries)
· Crime (357 entries)
· Corruption (349 entries)
· Flooding (278 entries)
· Elections (276 entries)
· Travel (268 entries)
· Bird Flu (254 entries)
· Religion (242 entries)
· Tourism (239 entries)
· Oddly enough ... (219 entries)
· Violence (198 entries)
· Drugs (196 entries)
· Health (192 entries)
· Aceh conflict (191 entries)
· Environment (185 entries)
· Weather (171 entries)
· Military (168 entries)
· Protests (157 entries)
· Culture (106 entries)
· Garuda Indonesia (91 entries)
· C. Sulawesi conflict (86 entries)
· Human rights (82 entries)
· Forest fires (78 entries)
· Sidoarjo mudflow (71 entries)
· Power supply (64 entries)
· Ramadan (63 entries)
· PT Freeport (55 entries)
· Picture guess (48 entries)
· Maluku conflict (47 entries)
· Dengue Fever (37 entries)
· History (37 entries)
· Infrastructure (36 entries)
· Polio (35 entries)
· Mexican flu (35 entries)
· Website (25 entries)
· Media (22 entries)
· Nuclear power (21 entries)
· Sports (20 entries)
· Sexy (16 entries)
· SARS (15 entries)
· Nightlife (10 entries)
· Others (5 entries)
· Lippo Cikarang (5 entries)
· Close smallest categories
EUR-IDR: 16,590 · 16,620  The Rupiah rate declined since yesterday
@ 17 May 2018 18:12 CET
JPY-IDR: 126.83 · 126.95  The Rupiah rate improved since yesterday
@ 17 May 2018 21:58 CET
MYR-IDR: 3,545 · 3,549  The Rupiah rate declined since yesterday
@ 15 May 2018 08:42 CET
SGD-IDR: 10,479 · 10,501  The Rupiah rate declined since yesterday
@ 07 May 2018 07:48 CET
THB-IDR: 439.14 · 439.41  The Rupiah rate declined since yesterday
@ 16 May 2018 09:18 CET
USD-IDR: 14,097 · 14,157  The Rupiah rate declined since yesterday
@ 17 May 2018 00:46 CET
Go to 'exchange rates' 
·  At 20 September 2018 06:54 erik12 reacted on Fuel prices lowered, again
·  At 19 October 2015 17:17 imambudianto5 reacted on Bank Indonesia maintains benchmark interest rate at 7.75%
·  At 04 March 2015 19:18 merdekaSah reacted on Alleged terrorists shot dead three villagers in Poso
·  At 04 March 2015 13:11 Yogya-Bali reacted on Alleged terrorists shot dead three villagers in Poso
·  At 26 February 2015 13:02 Irena reacted on Sexy, a young woman with candy
·  At 08 May 2014 09:51 jstar reacted on No alcohol should be sold in warung
·  At 01 May 2014 10:07 jstar reacted on Indonesia to be among the top 10 peacekeeping contributors
·  At 27 March 2014 05:50 harlys reacted on PPP leader voices concern over Islamic parties' future
·  At 10 March 2014 06:11 Yogya-Bali reacted on Sriwijaya Air leaves behind 200 passengers at airport
·  At 09 March 2014 00:11 Yerun reacted on Sriwijaya Air leaves behind 200 passengers at airport
·  At 08 March 2014 20:33 nicknick reacted on Sriwijaya Air leaves behind 200 passengers at airport
·  At 18 February 2014 04:17 Yerun reacted on Ash from Mount Kelud eruption spreads over all of Java
·  At 16 February 2014 05:41 Amed East Bali reacted on Ash from Mount Kelud eruption spreads over all of Java
·  At 14 February 2014 22:27 Anne Mieke reacted on Asylum seekers in Medan wish to be sent to Australia
·  At 14 February 2014 22:22 beritaislam reacted on Asylum seekers in Medan wish to be sent to Australia
·  At 16 January 2014 15:37 Anne Mieke reacted on Landslides cut off Tomohon-Manado road
·  At 16 January 2014 15:21 Yerun reacted on Landslides cut off Tomohon-Manado road
·  At 16 January 2014 15:05 Anne Mieke reacted on Landslides cut off Tomohon-Manado road
·  At 16 January 2014 14:48 Yerun reacted on Landslides cut off Tomohon-Manado road
·  At 16 January 2014 14:41 Yerun reacted on Landslides cut off Tomohon-Manado road
Go to 'forum topics' 

Created by · feedback & contact · © 2000-2019
Other websites by · · ·

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional 126,787,068 pageviews Discover Indonesia Online at