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Security sector reform post-SBY

Publication Date : 31-05-2014

 

On July 9 voters will choose between the presidential and vice presidential pairings of Joko “Jokowi” Widodo-Jusuf Kalla and Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa. Whatever ticket wins the election, they will have to face up to the challenges of the economy and security.

To be blunt, neither Jokowi nor Prabowo have shown a clear political agenda for security sector reform.

We have yet to see their respective agenda on the transformation of the defense system, how to bring about professionalism in the security apparatus and how to improve relations between the police and political authority, etc.

During his administration, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono passed only the Intelligence Law in 2011 to reform the security sector, but the more important bills still pending include those on national security, state secrets and reserve components. They have been under discussion in the legislature since 2006, but lawmakers seem to have other priorities.

One of the remaining problems is the military’s continued autonomy and ability to stay outside the Defence Ministry’s jurisdiction — despite the 2004 Indonesian Military (TNI) Law, which aims to bring the TNI under the authority of the ministry.

While the defence minister has the authority and influence to shape policy, design budgets and procure goods and services, the minister still exerts no authority over the military.

The TNI commander still reports directly to the President and that has created the perception of dual leadership within the defence establishment.

The 2004 law was supposed to give a clear division of labor between the defence institutions but until today, implementation and further clarification of some ambiguous articles has not been forthcoming.

One clear constraint in bringing the military under the ministry’s authority — something that would reshape perceptions about the military’s role in society — is the 2002 State Defence Law, stipulating that both positions will answer directly to the President and assist with defence matters.

That caused the military to be viewed publicly as a policy maker rather than a policy implementer. Given the inclusion of the TNI commander in the Cabinet meetings, clearly the old paradigm still persists.

The division of labor within the defence establishment needs a clear agenda setting and direction from the future administration. Jakarta Governor Jokowi’s lack of experience in national and security policy is understandable; nonetheless, he will require more assistance and endeavors in publishing his ideas and agenda on security sector reform. On the other side, Prabowo, a retired general, has the upper hand, but it does not mean he will do drastic things such as the restructuring the army territorial command.

These significant issues may not draw public attention especially during and after the presidential campaign.

But we should evaluate where we stand after 16 years of security sector reform. Will we see backtracking instead of actual reform on this issue?

The citizens will decide the nation’s fate, but progress in the security sector still looks bleak.

(The writer is a national security analyst at the Indonesian Institute for Strategic and Defence Studies  in Jakarta. He was a fellow at the National Security Policymaking Institute in Massachusetts, US, in 2013)

 

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