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INDONESIA POLLS: Fresh doubt cast on Prabowo’s suitability to rule
Publication Date : 09-06-2014
A leaked document circulating on the Internet detailing the reasons behind the dismissal of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto from military service on Aug. 21, 1998, has cast doubts on the former general’s suitability to serve as president, if elected on July 9.
The document, which was a scanned copy of the official letter signed by members of the Indonesian Military’s (TNI) Officer’s Honorary Council (DKP) tasked with hearing the cases of Prabowo’s complicity in the kidnapping of pro-democracy activists in 1998, revealed that the former Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus) commander was also fired from his position due to insubordination.
Signatories in the document include then Lt. Gen. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the current President; then Army chief of staff Gen. Soebagyo Hadi Siswoyo; Lt. Gen. Fachrul Razi; and Lt. Gen. Agum Gumelar.
If the authenticity of the document is verified, it could deal a blow to Prabowo’s credibility as a military man and presidential candidate.
The document states Prabowo, as Kopassus commander, overstepped his authority by ordering the Mawar and Melati units to “arrest and detain” the activists of the radical People’s Democratic Party (PRD).
Mawar and Melati are military units under the command of Kopassus, which answer to the commander of the TNI.
However, the document reveals the Mawar unit did not act on its own initiative, like Prabowo’s campaign team have repeatedly claimed.
The document suggests the Mawar unit carried out the kidnappings after Prabowo reassured them that it “had been reported” and that the operation was based on “a direct order from on high”, when in fact a report was never made by Prabowo to then Indonesian Armed Forces (or ABRI, as the TNI was then known) commander
The kidnapping was only reported in April 1998 after pressure from then head of the Armed Forces Intelligence Body (BIA) Maj. Gen. Zacky Anwar Makarim.
The document, which was uploaded on the website indonesia-2014.com, is the first document made public that details how Prabowo was dismissed from the military.
The document states the DKP not only dismissed Prabowo on charges of human rights violations in relation to the abductions, but also on a number of other actions that demonstrated his insubordination and disregard for the military code.
Among the other charges brought against him in the DKP hearing were that Prabowo had carried out or had taken over several operations that were under the authority of the ABRI commander, including the involvement of military forces in East Timor (now Timor Leste) and Aceh; the release of hostages in Wamena in then-Irian Jaya; and Kopassus’ involvement in securing president Soeharto’s visit to Vancouver, Canada in 1997, shortly before the strongman was ousted from power.
In conclusion, the DKP said Prabowo had disgraced and disregarded the military system and committed a criminal offence.
In response to the circulating document, the leader of the Prabowo-Hatta Rajasa election campaign team, Mahfud MD, reiterated that Prabowo was honorably discharged from the military.
“Pak Prabowo did receive his marching orders, but take note that he was discharged with respect,” Mahfud told reporters at Polonia House in East Jakarta.
“There is no problem with this document circulating, I want to emphasise it [the dismissal] was done with respect. It would only be a problem if he were dishonorably discharged,” the former Constitutional Court chief justice said.