The Jakarta Post
As members of civil society organizations express their concern over the expanding role of the Indonesian Military (TNI), military commander Gen. Moeldoko reaffirmed the commitment to intervene, if needed, in the standoff between the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the National Police.
On Friday, Moeldoko said that soldiers were ready to help maintain security in the capital if tensions escalated as a result of the protracted dispute between the KPK and the National Police.
'We haven't received any specific instructions from the President, but we are ready, if we are needed, to help maintain security,' Moeldoko said on the sidelines of a sporting event at the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) command in Cijantung, East Jakarta, on Friday.
Human rights activist Mohammad Mu'tashim Billah, former National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) commissioner, said that Moeldoko's statement could be seen as a sign of the military's readiness to reclaim its domestic political role, which had been stripped following the downfall of president Soeharto in 1998.
'This could mean that they are ready to get involved in operations outside the military. If their role is getting bigger then it could be an indication that the gateway [for the TNI to make a comeback] has been opened,' Billah told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Another indication that the TNI was poised to venture outside its domain was the symbolic lunch between President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo and Moeldoko on Tuesday, Billah said.
'The lunch sent a signal [from the President], as if he was saying that the current situation is chaotic and I open the door for you [the TNI] to enter,' Billah said.
Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said the meeting, which was also attended by the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) head Marciano Norman, was to discuss the current standoff between the KPK and the police and its potential impact on the TNI.
Earlier, Jokowi had instructed Moeldoko to deploy personnel to safeguard the KPK during the National Police's attempt to raid the antigraft body's headquarters in Kuningan, South Jakarta, following the police's decision to name KPK commissioner Bambang Widjojanto a suspect in a perjury case.
Indonesia Communion of Churches (PGI) secretary-general Jerry Sumampouw, meanwhile, criticized KPK chairman Abraham Samad, who also requested back-up from the TNI to secure the KPK headquarters.
'We understand [why Abraham did that] but it is not right according to existing regulations,' he said.
Political analyst from the Indonesian Civilized Circle (Lima), Ray Rangkuti, said that the idea the TNI could make a comeback to the country's political system was not far-fetched given the positive image the TNI had cultivated in the past few years.
'The public currently perceives the National Police as the institution that violates human rights the most,' he said during a discussion in Central Jakarta on Friday. 'This is a challenge, because if the police continue their way, then people will not think it is problematic for the military to be directly involved in domestic security.'
A public opinion poll recently conducted by the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI) found that the public's trust in the TNI was at an all-time high.
Respondents to the survey placed the TNI as the most-trusted institution, in the same league as the presidency and above the KPK.
Meanwhile, the National Police ranked sixth from 11 institutions.
Ray also pointed out how the National Mid-Term Development Plan (RPJMN) for 2015-2019 did not clearly distinguish between the authority of the TNI and the National Police.
'The RPJMN has been directed to return authority to the TNI [to its original function],' he said.
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