The revocation of the military’s dual function as demand for the 1998 Reformation is still deadlocked. As long as the military business is maintained, these demands will not be fully realized.
Right on May 22st 2019, the Reformation of 1998 had its 20th anniversary. The reformation carried six demands that encompassed the sector of governance, law, politics, and economy. Among the aforementioned, the stripping of ABRI’s dual function (Indonesian National Armed Forces) was one of the stipulations. Revoking ABRI’s dual function meant erasing their political and social function, such as the privilege to become a part of the government, being a part of any political parties, up to the right to manage a personal economical business. Therefore, the military could perform their jobs with more professionalism. This regulation has been officially written down in UU No. 34 Tahun 2004 tentang TNI which establishes that professional military shall not engage in practical politics, economic business, and perform solely based on duty to maintain the security of the nation. However, the dual function erasure seemingly tends to lack, if not fail up until now.
Notwithstanding the legality of dual-function revocation, the military remained to have a civil interest. Up to the end of 2018, the military already had more than 30 memoranda of understanding with the ministry and other national institutions, increasing the possibility for them to intervene in the civilian realm (Tempo, February 8th, 2018). One of the examples given is an understanding between the military and the Ministry of Agriculture in 2015 with the purpose of the military’s involvement in agriculture activities held in various villages. Other than that, there was an active general who did self-selection during the regional election in 2018, though he later resigned from his position and job in the military after being elected as a head region (Tempo, December 27th, 2017). Other than those facts, the military also interferes with the educational field by conducting a screening about Gerakan 30 September in various institutions. It proves further that the military still shows their massive interest in intruding on the civilian sectors.
The fact that the military holds tremendous interest in civil and political aspects is justified with the argument that a military is a tool of a nation’s unity (Said, 2016:28). “Bersama Rakyat, TNI Kuat” slogan proves further that the combination between society and military is seen as significant in order to achieve the aim of civilians, such as national stability. Henceforth, the right attempt to avoid military enforcement in the civilian sector is by strengthening the components thereof to perform their functions.
The opinion above isn’t necessarily incorrect as well as it isn’t enough to comprehend the longevity of ABRI’s dual function as a whole. As a matter of fact, such claims tend to deem the military as a political institution and ignore the special interests that are most likely possible to be retained by the military. To understand their interests, why it is sustained, and how they do it, an economical-political approach becomes the most adequate approach to answer the aforementioned questions. According to Hadiz & Robison (2013:41), the economical-political approach focuses more on trying to see the dynamics and consistency among actors in the term of dominating the power of economics as well as politics. Under the perspective of economics-politics, groups that already possess certain authority and interests will most likely keep it up. However, ways to keep it maintained is heavily dependent on the condition of the existing society
The transformation of social conditions within our society requires those who have particular interests to adjust themselves to the changes. According to Hadiz & Robison (2013), the economical-political force that was formed during the New Order Regime relied on their interests and power in the direct relationship with the state. The developing businessmen at that time were mostly the cronies of the New Order itself that got protection from the state, especially from Soeharto’s family. Thanks to the provided security, those businessmen could transfix their interests to particular economic sectors within the society in order to expand their capacity (Hadiz & Robison, 2013: 46). The fall of Soeharto and the change of the governmental systems that became more democratic caused the disappearance of protection that was once given by the state toward those businessmen. Such change forced the ex-cronies of the New Order to adapt to the new democratic climate within the society post-reformation (Hadiz & Robison, 2013: 54). In this reformation era, their power is now dependent on democratic institutions and society’s direct legitimation.
Perceiving that, the sustainability of dual-function up until now could be seen similarly. Through this perspective, the military’s dual function these days could be seen as an attempt to maintain the interest that the military possesses. Just like Soeharto’s cronies, the military earned direct legitimation from the state to take control over the economical and political fields during the New Order regime. In the reformation era, the nonexistent legitimation from the state affects the military severely which can be seen with the fact that they need to strengthen their legitimation toward the society so they could protect their control and interests democratically. Henceforth, it’s exceptionally urgent to track down where the economical and political interests, as well as dual role system, started to appear. Historically, the beginning of intervention from the military in the civil field was the consequence of the Indonesian military institution’s development itself.
Dual function of ABRI throughout the History of Indonesia
During the Revolution from 194-1950, our military had to take care of itself for the central government didn’t contribute directly to its establishment. The military in Indonesia wasn’t formed by the civil government, but a self-credited one made by its own members (Said, 1987). The Indonesian military was established by the armies of ex-Peta and KNIL independently while our government prioritized diplomacy over war with the Netherlands. This fact alone made the military have legitimate autonomy at managing itself more than the government. As a result, the military tended to have different interests and orientations compared to the civil government
Other than the lack of government’s contribution, the context of guerrilla war was also a significant moment to shape the power and political function of the military in Indonesia. The force of political-military was formed through a territorial command structure which was on the same level as the territorial civil government from district government down to village apparatus (Said, 1987). This command structure has the function of replacing civil government whenever emergencies were faced to prepare the controlling and organizing of civilians at war. During Operation Product in 1948 when the capital of Yogyakarta was taken over by the invaders, for instance. The downfall of the Indonesian central government turned the military into the only existing authority that resembled the government. The military then later went through the hinterlands and set the citizens to go to guerrilla battle against the Dutch. Territorial command structure formed by the military eased the substitution of position and role of the government. Assisted by Martial Law, the military could indisputably take over the whole area of the Republic of Indonesia that not only made them rule over the state in its entirety but also every field that existed within, one of them being the economic sector (Crouch, 2007).
The involvement of the military inside the economic sector was caused by the lack of funds from the government to sponsor both the military and its members’ requirements. The deficiency of funds within the military’s institution compelled them to look for and earn their own sponsorship. For instance, the military could earn pennies by helping people doing smuggling, making an agreement with local businessmen, collecting regional taxes, and helping the citizens to check and verify various licenses and other facilities (Crouch, 2007: 38; Mietzner & Misol, 2013: 104). The military’s interference in the economic sector developed furthermore after they took over the Dutch companies. Using Martial Law as a subterfuge, the military successfully took over those companies which had undergone nationalization in 1957. Starting from there, the military occupied plenty of strategic positions within those systems of the plantation, mining, banking, and trading companies (Crouch, 2007: 39; Mietzner & Misol, 2013: 105). Despite all that, these companies under the military occupation inflicted corruption and misappropriation. Armies that had gained prominent positions inside these companies would illegally distribute the company’s incoming funds toward the military’s institution rather than giving it back to the deserving state.
The downfall of Soekarno’s and the transition to the New Order regime strengthened the power of military politics. Legitimation of ABRI’s dual function by the New Order gave them the benefit of freedom in the term of intervening with political aspects. The concept of ABRi’s Dual Function in the New Order era had its own differences with the concept of “Middle Road” created by A. H. Nasution. The concept of “Middle Road” was intended for the usage of the army’s non-military function to participate in the area of governmental and political, but not as dominating as the concept of “ABRI’sDual Function” is (Said, 1987: 24-29). Political actions done by the military during Soeharto’s era can be seen with its attempt at reinforcing territorial command structures up from the national hierarchy down to the rural one. The purpose is to enlarge the military’s influence on the civilian field. Aside from that, military personnel was located in strategic positions within the government itself, such as taking charge as MPR (People’s Consultative Assembly) councils and regional heads. In 1971, the total of governors with civilian backgrounds were merely 4 out of 26 people (Crouch, 2007: 244).
Furthermore, legitimation for ABRI’s dual function also extended and coiled the economical interest within the military. The military became an important component in the affair of the state’s economy for they were considered to be capable of serving Indonesia’s fundamental purposes which were stability and development (Crouch, 2007: 273). Some military personnel was placed in various sectors of the economy in order to increase the incoming military funds. In the New Order era, the military gained huge profits and business concessions from the government (Crouch, 2007: 280-283). For instance, the military was involved in the collaboration with Chinese, Japanese, and American businessmen. They might as well be subduing three economically vital companies by the end of 1960, which were Pertamina, Bulog, and PT. Tri Usaha Bakti. The latter was a business group with rice companies, banking, airlines, and other businesses concerning people’s primary needs as members. Many companies with military backgrounds thrived just fine, such as Yayasan Dharma Putra Kostrad belonged to Soeharto which collaborated with a Chinese businessman, Liem Siu Liong.
Military’s Business Post Reformation
The reformation that took place in 1998, which resulted in the downfall of Soeharto, became a turning point for ABRI’s domination in civil aspects. The repeal of ABRI’s dual function was an urgent discourse to be taken into consideration as one of the people’s demands for reformation. In 2004, the government legalized UU No. 34 Tahun 2004 about the Military which officially revoked ABRI’s dual function (Mietzner & Misol, 2013: 112). Therefore, the military lost its social-political function. They could no longer be both officials and business owners concurrently. ABRI’s structures were also completely transformed into two. First is Police whose duty is to maintain security and offer protection. Second is TNI whose duty mainly focuses on national defense. The necessary separation directly averts the military from intervening in civil affairs.
Even so, the military’s interests in the field of economy and politics do not necessarily vanish as a whole. Similar to the interests possessed by New Order’s cronies, deep-rooted economical-political interests of the military make it even more difficult to be diminished (Hadiz & Robison, 2013). Meanwhile, the change of law that happened since the Reformation merely changed the dynamics of economical and political domination done by the military. Prior to Reformation in 1998, the state gave utmost legitimacy toward the military’s dual function hence the fact that they were able to take the charge explicitly. As for now, the legal eradication of dual-function caused the military to shift their ways in order to maintain their interest.
According to Indonesian Corruption Watch (2003), the military is still actively performing business and commerce through three different ways: informal business, illegal business, and coops or foundations. Informal business in the term of TNI personnel placement also involves TNI as an institution, both in the sense of a unit or TNI members. Illegal business solely involves both individual and unit, and as an institution, TNI has nothing to do with it. It’s such an unfortunate event that UU No. 34 Tahun 2004 doesn’t clearly differentiate between illegal and formal trading. The government seemingly couldn’t care less as they consider illegal business and formal both do not correspond to the definition of military reformation. Aside from that, formal business in the form of foundations and coops involves TNI as an institution, a unit such as Kopassus, and individuals.
Coops and foundations on themselves are considered as “indirect ownership” hence it’s seen as sufficient to be merely restructured and not being taken over by the state (Mietzner & Misol, 2013: 114). Meanwhile, businesses owned by the military need to be given back to the country directly. It seems that those licensed businesses in 2008 need to be put inside a new company structure that’s run legally by the coops. These changes are reflected in the increase of business units in 2011 with 1.301 coops and more than 13 foundations.
According to Human Rights Watch (2006) report, foundations and coops remain maintained by the military due to the lack of budget from the government to fulfill each one of the soldier’s welfare. The low budget affects the reduction of each soldier’s wage. The effect of this small number in wages was that the military felt like it was necessary to do economic activities. The Minister of Defense, Juwono Sudarsono, stated that in 2007, “Operational budget for TNI fell under the category of below the standards, thus to fulfill the operational expense for defense and security, the military institution needed to fund themselves by doing business” (Human Rights Watch, 2010: 6).
Even so, based on the monetary inspection by Badan Pemeriksa Keuangan (BPK), there were many businesses owned by TNI that contributed almost nothing other than misappropriation and corruption (Human Rights Watch, 2010). These foundations and coops run by the military earned gross assets around Rp 3.2 trillion and net assets around Rp 2.2 trillion by the end of 2007. This economic activity made a profit of around Rp 268 billion within the same year. It did not yet include the wage for security, land and building lease, company backing that was involved in criminality, and corruption. However, such businesses tended to not be utilized for the prosperity of soldiers. The report by Human Rights Watch (2006) stated that military businesses became the sources of funding for the generals and did not increase the standards of living for local soldiers. This leads to the fact that excuses for the existence of military businesses could not be justified. Instead of sustaining the lives of the soldiers, military businesses merely became a part of the elite military’s interest.
Although Reformation has reached its twenties, the military remains to interfere with the capacities of the civil field up until now. The military is still very much present in those civil aspects but with various forms and disguises that could be accepted by society. They enter such sectors by giving out expectant images, positive discourses, diverse activities, and slogans with promises of cooperating with people to actualize Indonesia’s goals together. Territorial command structures that are still very much preserved ease the military to jump right into the civilian issues. Generals who have taken off their positions are plenty, not only with the purpose of pursuing another seat in the government but also to have direct involvement in the activities of private companies. For example, the military entangled themselves in the issues of land dispute among mining and plantation companies in South Kalimantan (Majalah Tempo, 9 April 2018).
From the perspective of politics and economy, the military’s attempt on interfering with the civilian realm needs to be seen as an attempt to preserve their interests in the business. Up until now, the military still has interests in a business that is fairly huge. Businesses owned by the military seem to be an incentive among themselves to take over the political and economical realms. Through ABRI’s dual function that obtained its legitimacy by the New Order government, the military could transfix and develop their interests in business and politics. Despite the fact that the government post-Soeharto’s downfall no longer legitimates dual function, the military would still firmly take political steps to be able to influence people. This is exceptionally important to be known because by gaining people’s legitimacy, the military will also gain more space to carry out their actions. The military’s capability to intervene up until this moment just proves furthermore that the revocation of their former dual function as one of the demands for Reformation in 1998 experienced an unfortunate failure. This article is meant to show that their interests in politics and the economy are still going strong and the previous demand would be hard to achieve.
Authors: Olivia Prastiti dan Matthew Alexander
Editor: Alnick M. Nathan
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