IBRAHIM ISAS – FOCUS
“DEMOCRACY” AND MILITARY INTELLIGENCE
March 29th, 2011
WHOSE INTEREST TO SERVE?
ACTIVISTS OPPOSING ONE-WEEK 'INTENSIVE
QUESTIONING' IN ITELLLIGENCE BILL
WHOSE INTEREST TO SERVE?
The Jakarta Post Editorial: , Jakarta | Tue, 03/29/2011
As our intelligence community is struggling hard to improve itself and provide early and accurate information to the country’s top decision makers in the wake of several incidents of mob violence nationwide and a series of bomb attacks in Jakarta, a severe tug-of-war is occurring at the House of Representatives on the scope of the authority that the nation’s intelligence agencies should have.
Providing intelligence agencies with a legal umbrella is undoubtedly necessary to ensure that they act within the Constitution and the limits of the law.
The problem is that some articles in the government-drafted intelligence bill currently under deliberation at the House are counter to universally recognized human rights principles, such as the presumption of innocence and equality before the law.
People’s traumatic experiences with the nation’s intelligence agencies during Soeharto’s rule are still vividly remembered by many Indonesians. It is understandable that many are still reluctant to give more power to our intelligence bodies.
One key article of the intelligence bill has the potential to ignore human rights and basic legal principles: Granting intelligence agencies authority to intercept private communications, including those on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, in the name of security.
We are of the opinion that granting spy agencies eavesdropping authority — for whatever reason — would violate basic human rights that have only a tentative foothold in Indonesia, such as the freedom of speech and the freedom of opinion.
The article that would authorize intelligence agencies to monitor private communications in Indonesia mirrors the scope of the greatly criticized Patriot Act, which was approved by the US Congress and enacted by US president George W. Bush in 2002 in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
We oppose that article and believe that intelligence agencies should be allowed to monitor private communications only after securing court approval — a common legal practice in many parts of the world.
Also controversial are proposed articles authorizing intelligence agencies to arrest and questioning suspects for up to seven days. Again, such actions should only be authorized by a court and intelligence agencies must have sufficient evidence prior to detaining suspects. Failure to secure court approval or obtain evidence runs counter to the principles of presumption of innocence and equality before the law that assure the fair treatment of all Indonesian people, including suspected criminals and terrorists.
Another article that has failed to attract the attention of House lawmakers relates to the organization of the nation’s intelligence community. The article would establish the State Intelligence Coordinating Agency (LKIN), a non-ministerial government body that would directly report to the President.
In our experience, placing the chief of the nation’s top intelligence institution under the direct supervision of the President will lead to abuse in Indonesia. The intelligence community might wind up working for the interests of the president instead of the state.
Deliberation on the bill is underway. There is still ample of time for the country’s lawmakers to carefully and thoroughly study the proposed articles and make necessary adjustments and revisions to make it more legally and constitutionally compliant.
No one can deny that the state needs strong and effective intelligence agencies. But no one can deny that all intelligence activities should be done in accordance with the laws. Sadly, poor and corrupt law enforcement is one of the most dangerous problems in this country.
The Jakarta Post | Sun, 03/27/2011
Activists on Sunday voiced their opposition to a number of articles in the draft intelligence bill, including one that enables intelligence officers to conduct seven days of "intensive questioning".
Usman Hamid from the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) said the article allows for a dangerous amount of authority allotted to intelligence personnel.
“That will just repeat the practices of the New Order,” Usman said, as quoted by tempointeraktif.com. Usman was referring to the many alleged arrests that violated human rights during Soeharto’s rule over the country, which ended in 1998.
Confinement for a week for no reason without access to lawyers is a violation of human rights, Usman said. Activists demanded the government postpone its aim to pass the bill by July. Legislators are at odds regarding the “intensive questioning” authority in the draft bill.
The Democratic Party’s Hayono Isman said intelligence officers should be given special authority to arrest for prevention’s sake, while Tubagus Hasanuddin rejected the idea. Tubagas said the government wanted officers to arrest people secretly without any official orders.
“People taken to a secret place, that’s just the same as kidnapping,” Tubagus said. Another article in the intelligence bill drawing criticism is the proposed authority to wiretap.
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< An opinion of July 2005. But still relevant for reading>
OPPOSTION TO PLAN TO REVIVE TNI TERRITORIAL COMMAND
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Fri, 10/07/2005
Tb. Arie Rukmantara, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
The Indonesian Military's (TNI) plan to reactivate its territorial command drew strong criticism from the country's top politicians on Thursday as they claimed the move would pave the way for the military's involvement in politics.
""Reviving the territorial command is the wrong medicine for the disease we are dealing with. The move is only a tool to revive militarism. We should oppose that kind of intention as early as possible,"" said former president Abdurrahman ""Gus Dur"" Wahid on Thursday in a press conference held at headquarters of the country's largest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) in Jakarta.
TNI chief Gen. Endriartono Sutarto said on Wednesday that he would take the necessary measures to crack down on terrorist attacks in the country by reactivating the military's territorial command. He announced the plan after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, speaking at the 60th anniversary of the TNI, urged the military to take an active role in the fight against terrorism following the recent bomb blasts in Bali, which killed 22 people.
The territorial function covers the regional level, handled by the Regional Military Command (Kodam) to the village level, handled by non-commissioned officers assigned to villages and subdistricts.
Gus Dur said he doubted that the move would be an effective means to stop terrorists from taking action in the country.
""Who can guarantee that reviving it will make the country any safer? I don't think so. What is certain is that it will bring the country back to an authoritarian state,"" he said, adding that the military should only focus on defense issues and let internal security issues be handled by the police.
Speaking along the same lines, Speaker of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Hidayat Nur Wahid said the move was inappropriate because the military should only support the National Police and National Intelligence Agency (BIN) in fighting terrorism, not take over the job.
""The function of the police and BIN should first be maximized. Therefore, I question the purpose of reviving the territorial command. If the military wants to support the National Police, then support its intelligence system,"" he said.
He feared that the plan would create conflict between the military and police officers as well as BIN's intelligence officers in the field.
""I'm afraid there could be a conflict over who has the authority to take important decisions. As we have seen, conflicts often happen between police and military officers because of the blurred division of authority,"" he said.
A political observer from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, J. Kristiadi, said that the move was a violation of Law No. 34/2004 on the military, which stipulates that the TNI territorial function shall be eliminated within five years after the law is issued.
""Reviving the territorial command is against the law,"" he said, adding that the military should only be involved in security matters if the police ask for their help.
Meanwhile, former deputy chief of staff of the Army Lt. Gen. Kiki Syahnakrie said that the only short term solution to fighting terrorism was by reviving the territorial command of the TNI.
He cited that one of the successes of the territorial command's function was the immediate solving of the Borobudur temple bombing case in 1985.
""Why was it safer during the New Order government? Because at that time, the territorial function was stronger and was supported by the anti-subversion law, which was revoked at the beginning of the reform era,"" he told Antara. * * *
Rizal Ramli, Jakarta | Tue, 03/29/2011
Recent revelations from WikiLeaks documents, stating that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his family were involved in corruption are, frankly, not a big surprise.
After all, Indonesian politics is notoriously dirty.
Yudhoyono and his advisors have tried to play down the scandal, but make no mistake about it: Since the news about the palace shenanigans has hit the streets, the outlook for Yudhoyono’s presidency until the 2014 elections has been very bleak.
Until recently, mainstream opinion about Yudhoyono had been that he was a weak leader but he remained popular because of the common belief that he possessed that rarest of commodities in Indonesian politics: integrity.
But now that a shadow has been cast over his reputation as an honest character, people are starting to wonder if he deserves to stay in office until the end of his term.
Even if Yudhoyono were dishonest and not the leader everybody hoped he was, one could at least find a good reason to support him if his administration had made some decent progress in national development.
Sadly, the quality of life in Indonesia has declined under Yudhoyono’s leadership.
Although economic growth has been respectable, less than 20 percent of the population lives comfortably while the vast majority must continuously struggle to make ends meet.
Even menial jobs are difficult to find and the average income remains very low. Prices of staple foods and daily necessities have been increasing over the past year, leading to an increase in poverty.
Not only has life become more difficult for the average Indonesian under Yudhoyono’s watch, but we have also witnessed a return to the excesses of power that plagued the country under the former Soeharto regime.
The “legal mafia” — a commonly used reference to organized crime throughout the country’s legal system — remains a constant menace and prevents us from becoming a more humane and just society.
In fact, the legal mafia is a cabal of influential private attorneys, officials within the police, the prosecutor’s office and the judiciary. As a result, the law is conveniently ineffective when applied to elite citizens with money and power.
Many thoughtful observers believe that we can no longer afford to ignore Yudhoyono’s failures as a president. Our acceptance of his shortcomings is an act of collective irresponsibility and ensures us of continued decay.
What we are witnessing today is the spreading of the seeds of national disintegration. In turn, this could translate into Indonesia becoming a failed state.
Former Soviet Union president Gorbachev was known as a very judicious leader who was praised by Western leaders. He was even awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
His weak leadership, however, was blamed for runaway unemployment, a dramatic loss of public welfare and, eventually, the collapse of the Soviet Union.
While Indonesia enjoys plaudits from the international community for being one of the largest democracies in the world, I would argue that beyond the right to vote in elections there are few other reasons to wax eloquent about our particular brand of freedom.
So while we may be categorized as an electoral democracy, there is another sobering reality that needs to be addressed: While Indonesians have the right to vote, their votes have only bought them what is best described as a “tainted democracy”.
What this means for the average citizen is that the system is only successful at increasing the wealth of crony businessmen, executive officials and legislators — hence defeating the core principle of democracy itself, which is government for the people.
For those Indonesians who care deeply about the future of our country, it has become painfully clear that the reformist movement needs to be reinvigorated.
Civil society must unite to voice their discontent and demand political change.
Change is the only solution for containing a tainted democracy, weak leadership and a troubled government.
Political change can oust small self-interested elitist groups and champion efforts to make democracy work genuinely in the interests of the people.
The process for political change, however, does not require a coup or an overthrow of government. A coup can only be carried out with guns or by military forces.
Far-reaching change can be endorsed effectively by strong public support through a peaceful and non-violent approach.
If Indonesians can manage to gain ownership of their democracy, it would set a great example for the rest of the world.
In 1998, Indonesia took the bold step by moving out of the shadows of authoritarian rule.
Similar transitions are beginning to take shape in the Arab world. Now a new, equally important transition needs to take place in Indonesia for others to see: The replacement of the elite that only makes a mockery of our hard-earned political freedom.
Indonesia can still become one of the greatest nations in Asia, but Indonesians must now understand that it is their individual responsibility as citizens to stand up for their rights and keep pushing for change until democracy can work for their own welfare.
If change toward a better quality democracy materializes, Indonesia could again show the world that our democracy is capable of self-correction toward the establishment of genuine social justice.
The writer was the coordinating economic, financial and industrial affairs minister during the presidency of Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid. He is a political observer.
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