The Indonesian Military (TNI), one of the country's most reformed institutions that now focuses only on defense affairs, has gained the most public trust and respect, defeating media darling the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), a public opinion poll released on Sunday showed.
The study conducted by the Jakarta-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) between Oct. 14 to 21 found that the TNI received support from 90 percent of the 1,183 respondents surveyed. The poll placed the antigraft body, one of the most trusted state agencies, according to media reports, in second place with 80.8 percent.
The President and Vice Presidential were in third and fourth positions with 79.9 percent and 75.2 percent, respectively.
CSIS political and international relations department head Philips J. Vermonte said that the level of support for the TNI was due to a general public perception that it had performed internal reform well after the downfall of former president Soeharto in 1998.
After the reformation, the TNI disengaged itself from politics and dedicated itself to protecting the country's security.
'The result shows that internal reform at the military body is working and the public applaud what it has done so far by staying away from politics,' Philips said at the launch of the study, which was part of a general assessment of Jokowi's first year in office.
The growing popular support, however, could become a double-edged sword if interpreted differently by members of the TNI. Thus, Philips said that the TNI should not interpret the huge public support as a sign that the public wanted it to re-involve itself in politics due to public's low acceptance of the administration's performance in its first year.
'The message should not be read as a support to return to politics because the public merely expressed their appreciation over the democratic reform that has been conducted within the military body,' Philips added.
Meanwhile, CSIS senior researcher J. Kristiadi said that the TNI had won the public's approval because it could dispatch its personnel quicker than that of government officials to help civilians with natural disasters like flooding, landslides and the current worsening haze in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
'We can see how fast the TNI could get into the field to help curb fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan. The TNI is faster because unlike government officials it does not need to do through any bureaucratic procedures to help people in the field,' Kristiadi said.
One major item in the TNI's unfinished reform agenda is the failure of both the government and the House of Representatives to revise the 1997 Law on Military Tribunals. Human rights activists have accused the TNI of using military tribunals to avoid the Human Rights Court and condemned the tribunals for their lack of independence, which they say prevents victims of human rights violations from obtaining justice.
Meanwhile, the CSIS survey placed the National Police, the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) and the House of Representatives (DPR) at the bottom of the list. The DPR received the lowest score with 53 percent, while the DPD and the National Police received 60.1 and 63.5 percent, respectively.
To receive comprehensive and earlier access to The Jakarta Post print edition, please subscribe to our epaper through iOS' iTunes, Android's Google Play, Blackberry World or Microsoft's Windows Store. Subscription includes free daily editions of The Nation, The Star Malaysia, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Asia News.