Military Men

Jan 28th, 2008, in News, by

Military men in politics and whether the Indonesian people are ready for democracy.

Newly appointed military (TNI) chief General Djoko Santoso said last week that recent local election disputes which had turned violent were proof that some Indonesians were not ready for democracy. kompas

Djoko told a press conference that the military was concerned about the conflicts, which he said could endanger national unity.

The electoral conflicts are an indication, a sign, that we are not ready to practice democracy.

He was referring to ongoing disputes between supporters of candidates in the elections for governor and deputy governor in South Sulawesi, as well as in North Maluku.

Djoko Santoso
Djoko Santoso.

While saying the military should stay out of the politics of the disputes, Djoko said the TNI bore the responsibility to restore peace when violence broke out.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has appointed Army chief operational assistant Major General Tanribali Lamo as interim governor of South Sulawesi, which some say signals a return of the military to everyday politics, assuming they ever left.

Tanribali retired from the military just before his induction as interim governor, a position that will require him to restore peace and reconcile the conflicting camps.

President SBY, in uniformed days
President SBY, in uniformed days.

Yudhoyono himself resigned from the military after he accepted a ministerial post in the Cabinet of President Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid. Army chief territorial assistant Major General Prijanto is another officer who gave up his military career for a political job as the running mate of Fauzi Bowo in the Jakarta governor's election in 2007.

A number of retired military generals are also said to be eyeing gubernatorial or deputy gubernatorial posts in several future regional elections.

Djoko's discontent with the democratization process in the country echoes previous statements, including from Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who complained that full fledged democracy was not compatible with Asian values.

Kalla said last week:

It is not surprising to see people elect figures who can maintain discipline and stability. The chance for those with a military background could be bigger.

Ichsan M Loulembah, a member of the DPR, said the government should just get on with its job and not pay any attention to those who constantly raised the military-civilian dichotomy.

The most important thing was whether leaders, whether they be military men or not, do a good job, and Major General Tanribali Lamo in South Sulawesi was already showing signs that he was the right man to lead. antara

This article in Indonesian - Anggota Militer


11 Comments on “Military Men”

  1. avatar Janma says:

    So, according to them democracy should be established in Indonesia without any kind of conflict or problems in order to be considered ‘right for Indonesia’?

    It’s not a magical wand that makes everyone happy and free… it’s a process of growing up…. Indonesia needs time and education in order to practice democracy. It’s not just about choice, it’s about ‘informed’ choice.

    Asian values? would that be the strong man paradigm that has bought asia so much prosperity in the past?
    A real translation of the above would be… “damn democracy man! in the good ol’ days we could have just ‘munir’d’ this lot! We want to be able to bully the people without being answerable to anyone. We want people to grovel in their excess of fear and respect! None of this ‘have a say in the running of your own country bullsh*t!’

    Indonesia needs time, the people (mainly the government) need time to learn what democracy really is and how it can best be put to work to help indonesia face the future. It’s not an ‘oh we tried democracy…. it didn’t work’ after less than a decade. What do they mean by that? They want to go back to a military regime? That’s what Indonesia needs to bring it’s people into a modern and humane future?

  2. avatar Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    Mbak Janma,

    A Javanese wisdom to share with you.

    Indonesia is not ready for democracy in at least a few decades when the wealth of our country is not evenly distributed; and that our poor masses are easily swayed by political agendas and religious leaders. To our uninformed and uneducated masses, democracy means condoning fights and bad-mouthing other groups in the name of freedom of choice or freedoom of speech.

  3. avatar Moi says:

    @Aluang Anak Bawang

    I couldn’t agree with you more. We first need to a) lift up more than half of the populations’ standard of living above the poverty line, and b) increase the education level. Your so-called uninformed and uneducated masses stain the whole idea of democracy. What kind of democracy do we expect when the majority of the people ‘sangat mudah diprovokasi’?

  4. avatar Brett says:

    Thank God we have a media savvy enough to expose Djoko for what he is.

  5. avatar falcon says:

    Military men are disciplined and remain regimented as long as they stay within their organization. Democracy within its organization is predefined. It is productive and mandatory to have and maintain discipline however when living outside the armed forces, this predefined condition change drastically while democracy is interpreted broadly, thus it can be difficult, frustrating and challenging for a discipline individual but it also presents an opportunity for gains in a right or wrong sense. Military discipline is good but changes are only effective when a large percentage of the public sector are managed by the ex military men while the law of the playing field is strictly defined and enforced which is another major issue. The military sometimes represents fear syndrome while democracy is still going through its growing stage. Unless the country undertake a major effort educate the large percentage of the population while disciplining the public servants, military still represents an alternative for the next decade or so.

  6. avatar dewaratugedeanom says:

    The electoral conflicts are an indication, a sign, that we are not ready to practice democracy.

    ‘Everything for the people, nothing by the people’.

    Now where did I hear that before?

  7. avatar TheWrathOfGrapes says:

    The electoral conflicts are an indication, a sign, that we are not ready to practice democracy.

    So, any time you want a coup, or you want to impose martial law, just send some agent provocateurs…

  8. avatar Neil of Newcastle says:

    Is that what he said? Kompas of 25 Jan quotes him as follows: Menanggapai pertanyaan soal berbagai konflik yang terjadi di daerah, terutama terkait isu pilkada, Djoko menilai hal itu menunjukkan masih ada pihak yang belum siap melaksanakan demokrasi. He then went on to emphasise the TNI’s neutrality in politiks and to state that a book emphasising this point would be distributed throughout the TNI. Hardly the words of a spittle flecked reactionary, I would have thought. I am surprised that anyone with more thn two minutes time in Indonesia would believe anything printed in the JP.

  9. The military in Indonesian politics is a dangerous prospect.

  10. avatar raden says:

    It is the gene, the DNA that malay race by and large if they become majority in a country, it makes all options non-sense for equality & prosperity unless malay race lives in homogenity society where conflicts maybe reduced.
    Take the current picture of Malaysia, there is relatively higher prosperity than Indon at the expense of other races & other religions. But Malaysia economy was supported mainly from the Petronas and Chinese private sectors, and they have less racial diversity unlike Indon

  11. avatar Janma says:

    Take the current picture of Malaysia, there is relatively higher prosperity than Indon at the expense of other races & other religions. But Malaysia economy was supported mainly from the Petronas and Chinese private sectors, and they have less racial diversity unlike Indon

    Yeah, and that’s about to blow up in their faces!

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