Headlines

Government to protest all
territorial incursions

All foreign aircraft flying into Indonesian territory must report to local air-traffic authorities, otherwise the government will file a protest of border infringement, a top security officer has said.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto said Indonesia would protest whenever a foreign aircraft breached its territory.

“If a breach occurs, we will gather field data, both visual and digital. Then they [records] will be used to file a protest,” he said on Thursday.

The minister made the comments in response to media reports that Australia may allow the US government to use Cocos Islands for a spy-plane base. The islands are just 3,000 kilometers southwest of Jakarta.

As long as they did not encroach upon other countries’ territory, Djoko said, both Australia and the US had sovereignty to do more or less as they wished for the sake of their countries’ defense.

Given its vast territory, however, it is felt that Indonesian borders will inevitably be breached as the US has sophisticated, virtually undetectable drones. Also, the US has not ratified the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which could enable it to take advantage of Indonesia’s territorial gray areas.

Deputy Foreign Minister Wardana said any decision to file a memorandum of protest would be based on Indonesian Military (TNI) data.

“A memorandum of protest would be filed by the Foreign Ministry based on information from the TNI and the Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister,” he said.

He said an incursion of territory usually occurred when there was conflicting information about the actual position of foreign aircraft along the borders of a country’s territory.

Air Force chief of staff Marshal Imam Sufaat told The Jakarta Post that increasing US military activity in the northern part of Australia was not a threat for Indonesia. “We have a good relationship with the United States, so we do not need to worry.”

Meanwhile, several institutions responsible for the country’s air-traffic control have been coordinating with one other to formulate an integrated air-traffic management system.

The Foreign Ministry, Transportation Ministry and the TNI have agreed to allow foreign aircraft intending to enter Indonesian airspace to do so with only one permit, issued by the Transportation Ministry.

Previously, three permits were required: First, flight approval from the Transportation Ministry; second, diplomatic clearance from the Foreign Ministry; and last, security clearance from the TNI.

Aside from the permit, Djoko said, all information regarding flights by foreign aircraft would be collated in an online system so that all three institutions could access the information quickly.

Transportation Minister Lt. Gen. (ret.) E.E. Mangindaan told the Post that the ministry was already involved in developing an integrated air-traffic management system but stressed the need to upgrade the skills of its human resources.

Indonesia faces a great challenge in upholding its border security, as some areas of the country are not covered by radar. Ideally, all territorial regions should be equipped with radar that is able to monitor a radius of up to 1,000 kilometers.

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