It's the military, stupid!

13 Dec 2000
Liem Soei Liong

TAPOL paper presented at the International workshop 'Violence in Indonesia: Its historical roots and its contemporary manifestations' at the Universiteit Leiden

The collapse of an authoritarian regime and the period of transition towards a more stable and formal democratic system can often take years and is often characterised with periods of much tension, turmoil and bloodshed. It is argued that countries with a relatively high GDP per capita will have a smoother road towards democracy while countries with a low GDP per capita will face a long and winding road. Examples on both ends of the spectrum: Portugal and Spain in contrast with the Democratic Republic of Congo (previously Zaire) and Nigeria.

This paper is about the dominant role of the military in Indonesia in all aspects of life. The theme of the workshop: ‘Violence in Indonesia’, is quite a topical one and TNI, the Indonesian armed forces, play a central role around this theme.

The paper is limited to the period of 1965 till the present day, or more precise the role of the TNI since the establishment of the Orde Baru (Orba), the New Order. Violence is one of the main and consistent features of Orba. The very foundation of Orba started with violence: the gruesome mass killings in 1965/66. The end of the New Order in May 1998 occurred also in a frenzy of violence.(1)

Dominant role of TNI since the birth of the Indonesian Republic

All the major bloody events since the Indonesian independence had a major military involvement and the innocent civilians became the prime victims.(2) Practically all the regional rebellions of the fifties:, the RMS proclamation of 1950, the PRRI and Permesta rebellion in 1958 and the various Darul Islam rebellions in Java and Sulawesi, the on-going problems in Aceh, all can be interpreted as conflicts between local and central government troops or sometimes conflicts between regular army and local laskars (militia units). The so-called communist rebellions in 1948 and 1965 fall in the same category. The Madiun affair could be seen as a conflict between government troops and the Pesindo, a left-wing laskar. The G30S tragedy in 1965 is more than often seen by Indonesianists as primary an internal army conflict.(3)

History often repeats itself, alas in different guise and shape. The present bloody conflicts in Aceh, Maluku, West Papua or West Timor bear many similar features as the regional conflicts in the fifties. The regional conflicts of the fifties were open rebellions against Jakarta while the present regional conflicts carry a covert nature of opposing policies of the Jakarta government. The majority of TNI disagree with the ‘soft’ approach of the government in Jakarta (more precise President Wahid), in particular the willingness to solve the conflict through dialogue. Unrest and bloody incidents are deliberately created in the region. Rogue military elements disguised as civilians carry out the dirty jobs. Provocation or the use of militia-groups have become the daily scene in above mentioned areas. In the modern history of Indonesia armed youth groups or militia groups have been a constant factor in the political violence.(4)

With the exception of a brief period in the mid-fifties, TNI have always played a dominant role in politics.(5) Any attempt to bring the military under civilian domination was met by resistance by the military. Indonesian civilian Presidents: Sukarno, Habibie and at present, Wahid, have all been forced to accommodate the political wishes of the military.

One of the main military thinkers, the late General Abdul Harris Nasution, formulated the ‘Middle Way’ concept in 1957, justifying the political role of the military in political life. In 1965 TNI this concept was reinforced into the Dwi Fungsi (Dual Function) doctrine. Over the years Dwi Fungsi became the main military doctrine, justifying their dominant role in every field of life.(6) It was the same Nasution who was able to persuade President Sukarno to adopt an authoritarian system under the 1945 Constitution, better known as Guided Democracy, where the military played a substantial role. Arguably, the Guided Democracy era became the stepping stone for the Orde Baru period.(7)

Structural Violence in Orba

Throughout the period of the Orba violence was practically the monopoly of the state, or even more precise the monopoly of TNI. The different institutions within TNI had its share in implementing violence: its elite troops, its territorial troops and the military intelligence.

The start of state violence in the Orba period is signified by two important acts. These two acts will set the default mode of violence over the entire period of Orba. The first act is the sending of RPKAD (later renamed Kopassus) troops to Central Java by Major General Suharto. Parts of Central Java were strongholds of the PKI, the Indonesian Communist Party. In six months time, directly or indirectly, at least half a million people were killed. The killings spread also to other parts of the country, in particular in East Java and Bali.(8) Killings in these places was also very much engineered by the military. Muslim groups in East Java, in particular from NU (Nahdlatul Ulama) were given the clear message by the military to act against the communists. It’s either killing the communists or being killed by them, was the message.(9) The killings of 1965 most certainly created a deep trauma and a deep fear for the military. It took an entire generation and the downfall of Suharto before this fear receded.(10)

The second important event was the establishment of Kopkamtib (Komando Operasi Pemulihan dan Ketertiban) on 2 October 1965. Major-General Suharto had virtually already seized power and more or less appointed himself as the commander of this security body. Until it was dissolved in 1988, Kopkamtib became the principal enforcer of the regime’s structure and norms. Initially it was responsible for rooting out PKI and Sukarnoist influence from society in general, particularly from the bureaucracy and the armed forces.(11) The structure of Kopkamtib was embedded in the territorial structure of TNI. In the first 20 years of the Orba period the TNI territorial structure possessed more political clout than the civilian structure.

The Kopkamtib became the vanguard force of the territorial structure. The Pangdam (Panglima Kodam, Territorial Commander) was concurrently the commander of Laksusda (Pelaksana Chusus Daerah, the Regional Special Implementation Force) and had virtual martial-law powers. People could be lifted from their beds and held under arrest for an indefinite period. Military operations could be performed at random and house to house searches were held without any notice. Using the territorial structure, Kopkamtib always had troops at its disposal and also possessed its own operational intelligence unit. Kopkamtib was a kind of a Gestapo and the very existence of Kopkamtib made the Indonesian Republic a republic of fear.(12)

It is worthwhile to give a brief sketch of TNI’s most important features, in order to enable to understand the structural violence in Indonesian political life in the Orba and also the post-Orba period. TNI’s most important features are the special troops; the different intelligence bodies; the territorial structure; its political role and TNI’s role in the economy.

The special troops

In the 1985 reorganisation of TNI, the central command of the army was heavily boosted. Kopassus, the army’s special forces and Kostrad, the army strategic command, the two sections of the central command, were allocated more men, better weapons and better training.

Kopassus, formerly called the RPKAD (in between called Kopassandha), is elite in every sense. One Kopassus soldier is said to equal four average soldiers. In the early sixties RPKAD was seen as the army’s best unit, modelled along the lines of KST, a Dutch elite unit. But later on, the US green berets became the model as Kopassus troops relied on the US for all its training.

Throughout its history its men have enjoyed superior treatment, better uniforms and housing, more high tech equipment and higher pay with extra bonuses. It was Prabowo’s dream to provide every Kopassus soldier with high tech training, with Heckler and Koch semi-automatic rifles and multitask hand-held computers.(13)

At the start of the Orba era in October 1965, Brigadier-General Sarwo Edhy, the RPKAD commander, was ordered by General Suharto to unleash a wave of killings in Central Java; Muslim gangs quickly joined, spreading the killings to East Java.

From this moment on violence and impunity became the hallmark of Orba. The RPKAD was transformed in a killing machine without having to bear the consequences of their acts. Assured of impunity, Kopassus soldiers got into the habit of behaving like animals in war zones like East Timor and Aceh. Kopassus activities in East Timor are a terrifying example of state violence in optima forma.

The involvement of Kopassus, the elite red-beret force, in East Timor started before the invasion in 1975. General Benny Murdani who designed the invasion was a senior officer of RPKAD. Initially it had much more the nature of a military intelligence operation as it became apparent that the East Timorese resistance was far stronger than had been anticipated, a full scale invasion was designed. Kopassus became the key player in the war against the people of East Timor.

The average territorial soldier is not trained for the type of war needed to counter a guerrilla force like Falintil, the armed wing of the East Timorese resistance. Specially trained combat forces like Kostrad, the army’s strategic command, and Kopassus were needed. Since 1975, every Kopassus officer or NCO has served, often repeatedly, in East Timor. During the eighties and mid-nineties, a tour of combat duty in East Timor was the stepping-stone for an officer’s career prospects. All the officers who reached the top were East Timor veterans, in most cases with a Kopassus and/or Kostrad background. By the early nineties the armed forces HQ was stuffed with high-ranking Kopassus officers.

After the invasion, East Timor became the training and battle-ground for Kopassus which sustained many casualties in encounters with Falintil. A retired TNI general recently estimated that ten or eleven thousand Indonesian soldiers have fallen in the battle in East Timor another explanation why Kopassus have behaved with such brutality in East Timor. Even in calmer periods, serving in East Timor has been compared with doing service in a war-zone. Every East Timorese was regarded as a suspect. The violence in East Timor in this period couldn’t be more extreme. After serving in East Timor, soldiers had to be psychologically debriefed before returning to normal duties in Indonesia. Such brutal treatment, while used occasionally in Indonesia, is what the East Timorese had to endure practically all the time.

Up to the early eighties the basic Kopassus credo was never to take prisoners: all captives were tortured, interrogated and killed. It was only after the 1983, due to increased international pressure, Kopassus reluctantly agreed to hand some of their captives over for detention and trial. Until the mid-nineties, Kopassus had a widespread network of interrogation centres throughout East Timor. These centres, called SGI, often situation in residential houses, became the chambers of horror for the East Timorese.

The TNI leadership created a special command structure for the military occupation of East Timor. Combat operations were the main responsibility of Kostrad and Kopassus under direct command from Jakarta. The territorial structure in East Timor was basically a sham and only in 1993 it emerged as a proper territorial unit similar as in provinces of Indonesia.

The special combat structure came into being soon after the invasion. In 1976 a special command called Kohankam was set up; its name changed in 1984 to Koopskam and in 1989 to Kolakops. In 1993 Kolakops was dissolved but its functions were secretly transferred to Kopassus Group 3.

The combat structure has always been dominant though operational strategies have changed. In the first fifteen years of the occupation TNI launched many large-scale military operations to obliterate the guerrillas but Falintil managed to survive, thanks to its support in the villages and its strategy of mobile guerrilla warfare - maintaining no permanent base. For many years East Timor was the only place where Indonesian troops and Kopassus soldiers could practise their combat training.

By the early nineties the resistance had developed a strong urban base known as the clandestine front, consisting mainly of young people. They developed many spectacular actions against the forces of occupation, frequently attracting world attention. Gradually, the command structure switched, combating not only the guerrillas but also the urban resistance. The clandestine network also spread to many Indonesian university cities with pockets of East Timorese students. Counter-insurgency work became much more the focus of Kopassus trying to cope with the new and effective strategy of the East Timorese resistance.

Initially Kopassus consisted of three groups. Groups 1 and 2 were predominantly combat troops similar to combat troops anywhere in the world. Group 3 came into being in 1963, with additional training in counter insurgency, including interrogation techniques and torture methods. The SGI centres in East Timor were attached to Group 3. Increasingly the two lines of command in East Timor were headed by officers from Kopassus’ Group 3, with many lower-level territorial commanders also coming from the same force. In other words, Kopassus represented the core of the army of occupation.

After Prabowo, Suharto’s son-in-law, became Kopassus commander in 1995, he increased the strength of Kopassus to 7,000 troops by 1998, almost double its earlier size. Prabowo’s prowess as an elite force officer reached his peak in the closing years of the Suharto era, a period of huge labour strikes and demonstrations as pressure gre for Suharto to stand down. To deal with the growing unrest, Prabowo established Groups 4 and 5, most of whose members were recruited from Group 3. Group 4 and 5 members were trained in German anti-terrorist methods, Prabowo being one of the few Indonesian officers to train with the prestigious GSG anti-terrorist squad in Germany. One distinctive feature of Groups 4 and 5 are that the members rarely wear their uniforms.

Group 4 focuses on infiltrating opposition groups and act as provocateurs. They grow their hair long, dress shabbily, set up secret cells and sometimes carry out assassinations. Terror and violence are their stock in trade and they frequently recruit criminals as auxiliaries. Group 5 is not unlike Group 4 but was set up to kidnap or kill influential opposition figures in the closing years of Suharto’s rule. In August 1998 Prabowo admitted to a military investigation team that he was responsible for a number of kidnappings and disappearances. He and two other senior Kopassus officers were removed from their posts, Prabowo was dismissed from the army and 11 Kopassus Group 5 members were tried and given minor sentences. They were known as Tim Mawar (Rose Team).

The main thrust of Kopassus operations is counter-insurgency. Creating militia forces in East Timor was a logical consequence of this strategy: to get East Timorese to fight East Timorese.(14) Many of the 11,000 militia-men were trained in West and East Timor by Group 4 and 5 Kopassus members. They also included non-Timorese members of the militias coming from different parts of Indonesia, the dregs of society, including criminals especially released from prison.

These new militia gangs or death squads included Besi Merah Putih (red-and-white steel) in Liquisa, Aitarak (thorn) in Dili, Dadurus in Maliana, Laksaur in Suai and Mahidi (dead or alive with integration) in Ainaro. These are the thugs who, with their Kopassus masters, were responsible for the killings and devastation that grew in intensity during 1999 and came to a terrifying climax in September 1999.

The other central command structure is Kostrad, the Strategic Command. In 1962 Suharto became the commander of Kostrad and he used this outfit effectively to seize power in 1965. Both Kopassus and Kostrad commanders are among the most prestigious posts and almost without any exception the army chief of staff or TNI Commander-in-Chief originate from these positions.

In 1985 a new name was created for both outfits: Kotama (Komando Utama, Prime Command). The reasoning behind the reorganisation was quite simple: It is quite impossible to cope with unrest and dissent in a large archipelago as Indonesia with the relative small amount of personnel TNI possesses. Both Kopassus and Kostrad were overhauled to be able to cope with future regional upheavals.

Kostrad was hugely modernised in order to be able to operate in any part of the Indonesian archipelago at short notice. The mobility of Kostrad units were greatly enhanced by being held combat-ready at all times through massive air-lifts, capable therefore of dealing with internal ‘unrest’ with the minimum of delay. Kostrad battalions have been despatched in trouble spots like Maluku, Aceh and West Timor at short notice. A special unit was created, called PPRC (Pasukan Pemukul Reaksi Cepat, Rapid Deployment Force).

Kostrad consist of two infantry divisions, subdivided in 33 battalions with around 28,000 troops. Each division is supplemented with an airborne brigade. Kostrad has always been the assembly point of the army’s best-trained and best-equipped soldiers. Each of the two divisions has a full complement of tanks, field artillery, air-defence units, helicopters plus a considerable sea and air power.

In the post-Suharto era no fundamental changes have been made on the Kotama. But the wave of reformasi in 1998 and 1999 created a different political atmosphere. In particular Kopassus troops were taken off the streets and kept in the garrisons. New anti riot-outfits were created with larger segments of the AURI (Air Force) and ALRI (Navy) personnel included.

Because of its direct involvement with the kidnapping and killing of pro-democracy activists and its bloody role in East Timor, the image of Kopassus among the public was badly tarnished. Lt General Prabowo who concurrently was commander of Kopassus and Kostrad in 1998 was unceremoniously sacked and several lower ranking Kopassus soldiers were tried and sentenced. Serious discussions took place in Cilangkap (TNI Head Quarters) whether to reduce the number of Kopassus troops. But so far no drastic downsizing has taken place. Gradually Kopassus units have been despatched again in trouble spots like Maluku. The official line now is to be low profile and to monitor the human rights violations. Kostrad troops have been much more up front and several battalions have been sent to Aceh, West Timor and West Papua.

The military and state intelligence

Similar like Kopassus and Kostrad, the intelligence agencies have been left almost untouched by the waves of reformasi. In recent history the overthrow of a dictatorship usually also meant the dismantling of the intelligence agencies. The reformasi-movement didn’t put the intelligence bodies as a target and left the intelligence bodies untouched.

BAIS (Badan Intelijen Strategis, Strategic Intelligence Agency), the main military intelligence body was established in 1983. Similar bodies existed before carrying other names. Up to 1995 it was directly embedded in the TNI structure but BAIS became an own autonomous body with its own head, responsible to the TNI Commander-in-Chief.(15)

BAIS deals with strategic and internal security intelligence gathering and analysis. It also deals with international security matters, which includes counter-intelligence, security and special operations. This also includes monitoring organisations abroad dealing with human rights issues, environment, labour and regional matters in Indonesia.

The State Intelligence Body is called BAKIN (Badan Koordinasi Intelijen, Intelligence Co-ordinating Body) who answers directly to the President. BAKIN reports on matters affecting international and national security, including political, social, economic military strategic matters. BAIS has roughly the same tasks of FBI and CIA in the US lumped together while BAKIN can be compared with the tasks of the National Security Agency in Washington, being fully at the disposal of the White House.

Next to these two official bodies, the Orba period also experienced more covert bodies, which includes Opsus and the intelligence operations by Kopassus, already described earlier. In particular Opsus achieved notoriety because of its covert role in ending the Malaysia confrontation by sabotaging Sukarno’s policies. Four officers worked closely together in this project: Suharto, Yoga Sugama, Ali Murtopo and a young junior officer Benny Murdani.(16) Opsus was set up as an in-official intelligence body of Caduad, the predecessor of Kostrad. In reality it functioned like a private intelligence body for Suharto.

The close bond between the three officers: Suharto, Yoga Sugama and Ali Murtopo goes back to the early fifties as officers in the Central Java Diponegoro division. When Suharto became Kostrad commander in 1963, he recruited them to join. Opsus became the place of action for above mentioned intelligence officers. Most of the important political events in the first ten years of Orba were brewed in the Opsus kitchen, including the ‘Act of Free Choice’ in 1969 in West Papua, the overhaul of Golkar to become Suharto’s electoral machine and the engineering of the first general elections in 1971.

Yoga Sugama and Ali Murtopo became the Orde Baru’s intelligence supremos for many years. Yoga Sugama has a sinister background by joining the Japanese Imperial Army during WW2 and was despatched in occupied Manchuria. Ali Murtopo started his military career in the Muslim militia unit Hizbullah in Central Java but later betrayed his unit by joining the TNI. Benny Murdani, had a Kopassus background and Suharto decided to launch his career in 1974. Murdani became the TNI Commander-in-Chief in 1983 and between 1988 till 1993 served as Minister of Defence in the cabinet. Murdani was entrusted for the major reorganisation of the armed forces in 1985. In particular Ali Murtopo became notoriously known as Suharto’s fixer in the early years of Orba.

These three officers were Suharto’s most trusted inner-core people and their covert and overt activities very much determined the political course of Orba of the first twenty years. Yoga Sugama served as head of Bakin for fifteen years, from 1974 till 1989. The demise of the three officers also meant the end of the ‘stable’ period of Orba. The nineties became the decade where Suharto increasingly had to resort to short term solutions, which in practice also meant resorting to methods of blunt oppression. The state violence in the nineties became much more the violence of a regime in a battle for life and death.

Retired AURI -officers have recently come with new evidence and allege that Opsus, in particular through Ali Murtopo, was heavily involved in the G30S affair by closely working together with the Biro Chusus (Special Bureau) in the operation of kidnapping six generals.(17) While most analysts nowadays tend to agree that Biro Chusus (consisting of several left-wing army officers and some key figures of PKI, the Indonesian Communist Party, including Aidit) played an important role in the 30 September operation, the role of Opsus has been ignored. Retired AURI officer Heru Atmodjo firmly claims that Opsus played a pivotal role, in conjunction with Biro Chusus, in the kidnapping of the six generals. The order to kill the six officers likely came from the Opsus intelligence outfit.(18)

Dr. Soebandrio, Foreign Minister at the time, confirms Heru Atmodjo’s allegations in his manuscript called: Kesaksianku tentang G-30-S (My account on G-30-S). Despite difficulties in getting the book published, the printing media has already quoted extensively from the book. Soebandrio was together with Lt.Colonel Untung (who led the operation of the kidnapping of the six generals) in the Cimahi Prison. Untung revealed his close relationship with Suharto to Soebandrio. Suharto agreed with the G30S plan and offered more troops if necessary. Soebandrio explains in his book lengthily how Suharto manoeuvred both sides, on one hand the Untung-Latief group who did the kidnapping and the Yoga-Ali Murtopo group who designed the operation to become a complete failure. Suharto emerged as the victor out of the events and the most senior army officer.(19) In the second half of the seventies the role of Opsus declined while large parts of their overt operations were taken over by CSIS, an influential think- tank that master minded many Orba policies of those days.

In places where the armed conflict is more like a war situation, notably in East Timor and Aceh for many years, much of the intelligence work is done by Kopassus. The combination of combat and intelligence duties makes their work particularly bloody and vicious. The red-berets units have their own facilities and function practically outside the official territorial military structure. In East Timor, the Kopassus forces had their own interrogation/ torture centres called SGI (Satuan Tugas Intel, Intelligence Task Force). In Aceh, the same torture centre was called Pos Sattis (Pos Satuan Taktis, Tactical Force Post). Innumerable East Timorese or Acehnese activists haven’t survived to tell their stories.

President Wahid doesn’t rely on information from the two intelligence bodies and from the outset relied on his own ‘private’ intelligence, consisting of friends and colleagues. A total overhaul of Bakin and Bais is to be expected in 2001 but in the meantime the two bodies have become rudderless. In the Suharto days, funding for intelligence operations seems to be unlimited but nowadays the two intelligence bodies have to function with the limited budgets the state is providing.

The territorial structure

The TNI territorial structure functions as a shadow structure of the civilian administration. It is a fact that often this shadow structure represents the real power structure. The territorial structure is the backbone of the army’s stranglehold over society, which means the army will resist efforts to downsize the territorial structure.

Civilian Provincial Structure TNI Territorial Structure
Province Territorial Military Command (Kodam/Korem)
District (Kabupaten) District Military Command (Kodim)
Sub-district (Kecamatan) Sub-district Military Command (Koramil)
Village (Desa) Village NCO (Babinsa)

In the pre-1985 structure practically every province also had a kodam (territorial military command. In 1985 the central command was reinforced and the amount of kodams was reduced from 17 to 10. In the post-Suharto period the TNI wants to revive the 17 kodams and each of the trouble spots like Maluku, East Kalimantan, Aceh and West Papua will have their own kodam.

According to the present plans, the ten military commands (kodam) will be increased to the pre-1985 amount of seventeen. Each of the 'trouble spots' like Maluku, Aceh, East Kalimantan and Irian Jaya will have their own kodam. The first new military command, Kodam Pattimura has already been inaugurated while Sumatra and Sulawesi will be divided into 4 and 3 kodams respectively.

It so happens that these trouble spots are all located in geo-politically sensitive areas. Aceh is lies at the northern tip of the strategic Malacca Straits and Maluku is situated between the Pacific and the Asian continents so the TNI can argue that territorial enlargement is needed for military defence purposes. All the kodams with their subordinate commands down to village level shadow the civilian administrative structure and it is this shadow structure that represents the real power structure. The pro-democracy movement has done little as yet to call for this territorial structure to be disbanded. Opposition to the creation of new kodams has so far come only from people in Aceh and West Papua for whom the right to independence has become the key issue.

Another reason for enlarging the territorial structure is to provide new jobs for lower-ranking officers who have lost jobs in the kekaryaan structure. In the fifties, territorial commanders grew very powerful and waged rebellions against the centre, prompted by arguments over the control of local financial resources. The TNI hopes to prevent this from happening by demanding a 100 per cent increase in the military budget.

In the new structure, there will be two types of kodam, A and B. Type A kodams will be those located in more security-sensitive places which will get an extra combat brigade including infantry and intelligence officers as well as a cavalry unit (tanks, armoured personal carriers) and anti-aircraft missiles. For places of strategic importance like oil refineries and so-called ‘vital’ industries, a special anti-aircraft unit will be on permanent standby.

Above the kodams, the Indonesian archipelago will be divided into three army Kowilhans (regional defence commands) a structure that was abolished in 1985 in the Murdani overhaul.

In the very first years of the Orba, the regional structure became heavily militarised, for the simple fact that many government officials were killed, imprisoned or purged from their functions. It almost became a tradition that the former district military commander would become the next district chief or the territorial military commander becoming the next governor.

While many bloodbaths that occurred in the Orba period were the responsibility of the Kotama units, territorial units also had their share in the violence. The killing of unarmed demonstrators in Tanjung Priok, the harbour of Jakarta in 1984, the brutal attack on Talangsari, a village in South Sumatra was also the responsibility of the local military command. Several bloody incidents in Aceh and East Timor were executed by territorial troops.

In July 1999 a combined Kostrad and territorial troops attacked a religious school in Beutong Ateuh in Aceh. Fifty-seven people including Teungku Bantaqiah, the Muslim cleric, were shot dead in cold blood.(20) The wounded were driven away in army trucks, shot dead one by one and their bodies thrown down a ravine. According to the findings of a fact-finding team the teacher and his students were conducting Quranic readings (pengajian) when the troops opened fire. It was Friday and the number of people in attendance was greater than on other days.

A trial against 24 soldiers was held earlier this year and concluded that the lcal military commander initiated and co-ordinated the bloody operation. The court found the defendants guilty and passed down sentences between 8½ and 10 years. Following their convictions, the 24 soldiers were taken to an air force base and flown to Java, raising doubts in Aceh whether they will spend any time in prison. One of the convicted soldiers was caught at the airport by the customs carrying two kilos of marijuana, increasing the suspicion that the trial was a mockery of justice.

The territorial structure has always been the provider of extra income for the rank and file soldier. The local military commander and his troops provides ‘protection’ to the manufacturing industries in the locality and as in the shopping malls, transport companies, restaurants, brothels, illegal casinos etc. In the seventies and eighties, the heydays of TNI, this kind of extra income was always the multiple of the average salary.

New conditions in the post-Orba period

Many things have changed in this post-Suharto era, but many other things have remained the same, or are very sluggish in the process of change. Without any doubt, on top of the reformasi agenda remains: how to cope with Suharto and the generals. The entire political agenda since May 1998 could be described as a constant battle between civilian against military rule. The division line between civilians and military are sometimes quite blurred because many thousands of retired generals have become nominal civilians but basically maintain their hawkish views and are not prepared to accept a back seat position for TNI. Dozens of retired officers have joined political parties and often acquired leading positions.

The other factor, an on-going economic meltdown, has also accelerated the rifts between the civilians and the military. The national cake has become too small to be shared by too many. Wahid’s economic team have so far been at snail’s pace in overhauling the banks and restructurising the many companies owned by the Suharto family plus cronies. It is obvious that these companies have now become a new battle ground between new emerging ‘cronies’ and military business interests.

Four points are identified as characteristic for the present political situation. All the four points are very much inter-linked and will be explained further. The four characteristics also deal with the increasing level of violence that has occurred since 1998.

1. The image of the military

It is a fact of life that that the image of TNI has never been so bad. Their involvement in the abduction of pro-democracy activists, their disastrous role in the destruction of East Timor has deeply tarnished the image of TNI. The reaction of the public is quite obvious. Actions of students in the big cities physically fighting with the security forces have become a daily scene. People in Aceh organise themselves in mass meetings despite shooting and military brutality. Freedom of the press allows frank reporting in the media on military brutality all over Indonesia. The culture of fear has gradually declined. Both post-Suharto governments have taken measures to drive the political influence of TNI back. It is obvious that large sections of TNI disagree with these developments and make serious efforts to sabotage it.

2. The civilian-military relationship

The civilian-military relationship, in particular the relationship between the Presidency and the army, arguably, remains the main obstacle in the process towards democratisation. In the Orba period, Suharto, a military himself, encountered few difficulties with the military top. The rapid political change into a plural party system creates its own drawbacks, which again become stumbling blocks in the process of a growing civilian supremacy over the military.

3. Open divisions within TNI

Civilian supremacy as a basic and universal political concept creates its own difficulties among the military. It has become one of the major issues of contention within the TNI ranks. The open divisions within TNI, in particular within TNI-AD ( the army ) has become one of the major sources of outburst of violence in different parts of the Indonesian archipelago.

4. Extra-budgetary activities

The official defence-and-security budget covers only about 25% of the minimal operating costs. TNI has a tradition since the fifties to have additional income through a wide range of economic activities. Since the economic meltdown of 1997, this kind of non-conventional fund raising is facing increasing difficulties. The result is more than obvious: sections of the military have become more entrenched in organised crime activities or have become pro-active in covert or overt anti-government political activities.

ad1 the image of the military

It is a fact of life that the image of TNI has never been so tarnished. Their brutality and their allegiance to the Suharto regime resulted in strong public condemnation. The involvement of ‘rogue elements’ in TNI in various terrorrist activities like the bombing of the Jakarta Share Market and the Attorney General’s office has only has only exacerbated this view. The involvement of top military in printing massive amounts of counterfeit money was another proof of subversive TNI elements right to the top. The gradual changes in the reformasi era have brought this kind of scandals even more to the forefront.

This poor image of TNI has developed its own dynamics in the Indonesian society, with both positive and negative implications. Despite the involvement of the TNI in all the bloody incidents of the last 30 years, none of the leading officers have been brought to justice. In the brief transitional period of Habibie efforts were made to investigate serious human rights violations. This kind of investigations have continued until this very day and names of some top generals have been mentioned, being responsible for those humanitarian crimes. Names like Benny Murdani, Try Sutrisno, Feisal Tandjung and Wiranto, all former TNI Commander-in-Chiefs have all been mentioned but so far only minor ranking soldiers have been put on trial. Unless impunity is ended, the society at large will still feel that the rule of law has not been established in this post-Suharto era.

One of the striking negative impacts in society is the growing phenomenon called mob justice in the big cities. Petty criminals, like pickpockets or thieves, if caught during the act, receive punishment in public usually with fatal consequences. The victim is beaten up and often burned alive in public. Taking justice into the own hands can be explained from a deep distrust of the system. The judiciary reform is still stagnant and until rule of law is being implemented, this kind of mob justice will likely to continue.

In the early eighties, at the height of the law and order regime of the military, a brutal campaign was launched to eradicate street crime. President Suharto himself gave the order to kill petty criminals in the streets. The end result several thousand people were blatantly killed in the streets by the security forces in the streets of the big cities in a campaign more known under the name Petrus (Penembak Misterius, Mysterious Killers). Their bodies were often deliberately left in the streets to create an atmosphere of fear. In the same period the security forces used brutal forces against peaceful Muslim demonstrators. On 12 September 1984 hundreds of demonstrators were shot in the streets in Tanjung Priok, the harbour of Jakarta.(21) A witch-hunt started against Muslim activists in many parts of Java. More than 150 people were tried, convicted and sentenced to heavy terms of imprisonment.

Since the Orba was established in 1965 TNI created a unique position for itself in the Indonesian political arena. TNI put itself above the politics and justified this through its historic role in achieving independence and saving the republic from different threats like communism and separatism. In the view of the majority of TNI officers, the armed forces was never an alat pemerintah (instrument of the government) but more an alat negara (instrument of the nation). Gradually this process eroded even more and TNI became a mere alat kekuasaan (instrument of power), in particular for the Suharto family.

The TNI was transformed into a ‘palace army’. Top generals were no longer selected on quality and professionalism but on loyalty towards the Suharto family. The TNI leadership in the last years of ORBA reflects that kind of cronyism. The three top generals in the last days of Suharto were: Wiranto (armed forces c-in-c), Sugiono (armed forces chief of the general staff) and Subagyo (army chief of staff) were all former commanders of Suharto’s Palace Guard or presidential aides.

The ABRI top was forced to make a few steps back. In April 1999, TNI Commander-in-Chief General Wiranto announced that ABRI would change its name back to TNI (Tentara Nasional Indonesia], which was its name in the early years of the Republic. In his Address to the MPR on 15 October, President Habibie, speaking also as the armed forces supreme commander, said that the change in name was intended ‘ to draw a clear line between the ABRI of the past and the TNI of the present and future’, adding: ‘(W)e have all seen how ABRI has been the target of many criticisms for its role in the past.’

The infamous term sospol, (sosial-politik), a euphemism for military meddling in daily life, has been expunged and replaced by the term territorial. The powerful position of the Kassospol (Kepala Staf Sosial-Politik), Chief of Staff for social-political affairs, was abolished and replaced by the Kaster (Kepala Staf Territorial), Chief of Staff for territorial affairs.

In TNI’s own jargon, they are busy ‘repositioning, redefining and revitalising’ themselves. Earlier this year they came up with ‘four new paradigms’ which were described as its ‘new conceptual framework’.(22) They were designed to confront the post-Suharto era, an era for which the military has been swayed with many uncertainties. The economic meltdown starting in 1997 and the political crisis ending with the ousting of Suharto in May 1998 created a situation of great confusion for the average TNI soldier.

By and large, Indonesian academics are not very impressed with TNI’s new concept. LIPI, the Indonesian Academy of Sciences, has called the reforms ‘half-hearted’, accusing the TNI of being unwilling to go all the way for reformasi, the main slogan of the post Suharto era. As LIPI sees it, using terms like ‘power sharing’ and ‘role sharing’, means that the TNI still insists on playing a role in politics. Researchers at the University of Indonesia, go further and see the new paradigms as being the same as the New Order, a continuum of the Java-centrist outlook that has dominated Indonesia for the last three decades.

Critics see the new paradigms as just a rephrasing of the Suharto doctrines which were defined in Javanese as: Ing ngarso sung tulodo, ing madya mangun karso, tut wuri handayani (set an example from the front, work hard in the middle, and steer from the behind). These concepts are rooted in feudal Javanese tradition and reflect a very militaristic way of thinking. Some military analysts see the new TNI paradigms as an insult to civil society: ‘civilian supremacy is not accepted as universal truth and instead TNI is prepared to share power with the civilians’.(23)

A new think-tank, RIDEP (Research Institute for Democracy and Peace), finalised a research paper on civil-military relations at the end of October 2000 with the conclusions that the public perception on the civil-military relationship has remained virtually unchanged.(24) The RIDEP team slammed the TNI leadership of failing to clarify what it intends to do with the territorial structure which creates suspicion in the public at large about the real intentions of TNI. The research was done in the Kodam Udayana territory, the military command with HQ in Bali.

Despite the half-heartedness of the reform, it remains a fact that DwiFungsi, the main military doctrine has been pushed back considerably. From 1 April 1999 onwards, active military holding civilian posts were required to resign from the military. The representation of the military in the legislative bodies (DPR/MPR) has been reduced greatly and POLRI, the Police Force will be separated from TNI in stages.(25)

Large sections within TNI disagree with the new disadvantageous situation. The main military doctrines they grew up with give them a vanguard role in society. Many officers still believe that TNI is the only force that can safeguard the unity of the country, its constitution and the state doctrine called Pancasila. This new situation has created deep rifts among the leadership of TNI-AD. In words TNI has accepted the reality of civilian supremacy but their deeds often go into another direction.(26) In this first period of TNI reform, two distinct groups emerged, one section, the pragmatics, that acknowledged the need to take a few steps back to be able to consolidate and the second group, the hard-liners who refused to accept the universal truth of civilian supremacy.

Different analysts have described how these hard-line elements have tried to boycott the entire process of reformasi, for example by inciting unrest in isolated areas and then to come with fresh troops to justify the indispensable role of TNI in preserving stability and national unity.

The gradual decline of the ‘Republic of Fear’ has also created positive developments at grass roots level. In different parts of the country peasants are demanding their land back from the military authorities, unthinkable in the days of the Orba. One conflict between peasants of Giripurwo in the Gunung Kidul, Central Java and the Central Java Military Command, Kodam IV Diponegoro came in the news recently.

Back in 1979 Kodam IV Diponegoro urgently needed vast tracts of land for training purposes. The war in East Timor was at its height and the Gunung Kidul area showed resemblance with the conditions in East Timor. Diponegoro units were trained in Gunung Kidul and later despatched to East Timor to participate in the huge military operation called Operasi Keamanan in East Timor.(27) On 21 September 1979 deep in the night, the villagers of Giripurwo were dragged from their houses by dozens of soldiers in combat outfit and taken to an empty government building at the centre of the village. In total 48 villagers were detained by the military.

In the first instance the villagers refused to sell their land under this conditions but very soon terror and intimidation was used. The ones that refused to sell their land would be declared as terlibat PKI (involved with PKI, the Indonesian Communist Party) which was similar as being an outcast in the society. The majority of the peasants were illiterate so the contract was sealed with their fingerprints. Twenty-one years later the Giripurwo villagers have taken their case to the authorities. Their lawyers argue that any agreement done under duress is not valid.

ad 2 The civilian-military relationship

In the Suharto period the military never had to face the reality of a civilian head-of-state. The man at the top was one of them and understood the way the average TNI soldier thinks and acts. In the Indonesian constitution of 1945, the President is concurrently also the Panglima Tertinggi (Supreme Commander) of TNI. Many officers simply couldn’t swallow the idea of having a civilian Supreme Commander.

Back to the early fifties, under a more liberal constitution, civilian supremacy was the political primacy and the different cabinets always had difficulties in handling the military. The TNI top in those could never accept the idea of civilian supremacy and continuously charged the civilian politicians of meddling with internal affairs of the military. The same arguments are used again against the Wahid government. The first civilian Minister of Defence in the post-Orba period endured increasing opposition from his top echelon civil servants, by and large retired generals, simply refusing the idea being under a civilian minister.

The transition of power from retired General Suharto to the civilian B.J. Habibie was already hard to swallow for many hard-line TNI officers. In his brief period as President, Habibie started to implement policies to push back TNI from politics.(28) Habibie also agreed the holding of an UN led referendum in East Timor much to the dismay of the military. He also started to downsize the presence of TNI in the regional administration and the elected bodies. His successor Wahid, the first properly elected President since 1955, was and is determined to continue the reform of TNI.

Wahid and his key members in the cabinet were determined to implement civilian supremacy and unceremoniously ditched the main hard-liners from their key-positions in early 2000. In March, while on his trip in Europe, Wahid announced the sacking of General Wiranto, the key TNI person in his cabinet. Wiranto’s name emerged in the final report of KPP Ham (Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations) in East Timor as suspect to be investigated by the Attorney General’s Office. The sacking of Wiranto was seen by many in TNI as a declaration of war by Wahid against TNI. It was clear from that moment on that the TNI hard-liners would fight back.

From that moment on the civilian-military relationship has become increasingly volatile and often heading on collision course. Practically all the important political happenings since March 2000 can be identified as civilian-military clashes. The problems in Maluku, West Timor, West Papua and Aceh are directly or indirectly military interventions against Wahid’s policies. The Indonesian political scene has become very difficult to understand for bystanders. A kind of catch 22 situation where on one hand President Wahid looks increasingly like a lame duck as many of his policies are being obstructed or openly sabotaged. On the other hand the military that are largely responsible for the ongoing violence are too much divided and impopular to launch a take-over. The outcome is there: Jakarta is unable to stop the rot and violence continues unabatedly.

In this difficult political gridlock President Wahid was forced to negotiate with the TNI top brass. Wahid had to make compromises in order to get out of the stagnation. Since April 2000 the political situation became a constant struggle between the presidency and the TNI top. Bondan Gunawan, one of Wahid’s most trusted aides, was removed because of military pressure. Bondan was the liaison figure between the presidency and the group of pro-reform TNI officers and also tried to broker between the presidency and GAM, the Aceh Liberation Movement. Although appointments and dismissals of top positions in TNI is the prerogative of the President, in reality Wahid is not able anymore to do what he likes without consultation of the TNI top and other high-placed persons like Vice-President Megawati.

In the Orba days, the military were undisputedly the best-organised political force, and it could be argued, it still is. They also spin-doctored all the emerging political conflicts within the stalemate political construction during Orba. The present lively and plural party system has created a new situation. TNI is still present as fraction in parliament and congress and dozens of retired TNI officers have joined political parties or have established themselves as regional representatives. But their role has become far less prominent.

In the last annual MPR session the President was openly criticised by the TNI fraction of going too far in accommodating the ‘separatist’ forces in Aceh and West Papua. The Humanitarian Pause between the Indonesian Government and GAM, the Free Aceh Movement, was also met with great disgust by TNI. Retired officers also started to actively use the political parties like Golkar, PDI-P and PAN and some of the smaller parties (in theory the majority of the electorate) to increase opposition against Gus Dur’s Presidency. A few dozen top generals have crept closer to Megawati’s party, PDI-P, which have now emerged as the party closest to Cilangkap.

President Wahid is the first Indonesian president who tries to find a peaceful solution for the on-going regional conflicts. He is in favour of far reaching autonomy for regions like West Papua and Aceh and hopes that through this offer the two regions will remain in the fold of the republic. He supported financially the big conference of the Papuans in May and also approved the holding of a big rally in Banda Aceh in November. Much to the dismay of the TNI top who firmly believe that support to this kind of rallies only means support to separatist movements.

The present Army Chief of Staff General Endriartono Sutarto recently lashed out at politicians and accused them of meaningless power struggles while the security situation of the country is worsening. He warned that joint commitment is necessary to the rising threat of the desintegration of the unitary state (NKRI, Negara Kesatuan Republik Indonesia, the Unitary State of Indonesia). The general hints at the declaration of an emergency situation if the present conditions are worsening.(29)

While TNI is fracturing in different directions, there is one issue on which everyone in the TNI are on common ground, that Indonesia should not fall apart. The doctrine of NKRI is sacrosanct for the average TNI member. The ‘loss’ of East Timor has raised the spectre of other regions wanting to break away. The TNI reform group has devised a plan to strengthen the territorial structure, as the way to prevent ‘balkanisation’.

Preserving the unitary state is seen by the entire TNI top brass as top priority and can also function as a unifying factor. In this context, ‘separatism’ will become the main enemy. This point was stressed recently by Lt.-General Agus Widjojo, one of the TNI’s leading thinkers and director of the armed forces think-tank, Sesko-TNI.

ad 3 Open divisions within TNI

Very soon after Suharto’s downfall, some of the Cilangkap (TNI-HQ) reformers acknowledged that TNI must take a few steps back with regard to some key elements of the army’s ‘dual function’, relinquishing their political role in society and allowing civilians to take greater control. One area is to cling on seats for TNI in Parliament. Prior to the June elections, there was a heated discussion in the old parliament about the number of TNI seats in the new parliament. Army representatives did not press the case for retention but the other parties reached a compromise, giving 38 seats to TNI, half of what they had previously. Some sources say the TNI top would not have minded losing all their seats but the civilian politicians, still thinking like Suharto-era pawns, opted to continue the army’s role in politics, at least till 2004.

The reform group, with the blessing of General Wiranto, has also slashed the TNI karyawan doctrine much to the annoyance of the hard-liners. This is the doctrine that gives officers the assurance of decent jobs after retirement, as village heads, district heads, governors or ministerial posts. More than 3,000 active military were forced to choose between keeping their jobs in the bureaucracy or returning to the TNI. But while taking these steps back, the Cilangkap reformers have made gains elsewhere, by strengthening the territorial structure, the structure through which the military maintain control over the population at large.

Overall, TNI lost influence in many fields and is not seen anymore as the centre of all power. The excessive abuse of power by TNI, taken almost for granted, have eroded and in fact, has become a source of open conflict. For the first time since the fifties (retired) officers are openly blaming each other for the course of events. Retired General Edi Sudradjat has publicly attacked his successor General Feisal Tandjung as being responsible for the attack of the PDI office in 27 July 1996.(30) The corruption scandal in the army has become a public event with officers accusing other officers.(31) For the average officer, the security of gaining a good job in the civilian administration after retiring (TNI retirement age is 55 years) has evaporated in the air. The solid system of patronage will continue but it is expected that the easy flow of extra-budgetary money will decline. An account by an US Reserve Major is indeed very telling. He witnessed graduates of the Higher Staff School, class 1999 originating from Kostrad receiving envelopes of money from the Kostrad commander.(32) Loyalty in TNI is increasingly loyalty towards the commander who can provide the soldiers with extra funds.

The divisions inside TNI have gone from bad to worse. From two camps into three camps and deteriorating even more to groups around influential generals. The divisions have also affected the command structure and upsurge of violence in different places is caused by a combination of unwillingness or inability of the troops to gain control of the situation. The conflicts between the reformist group and the other factions have escalated strongly since October 2000 and vicious attacks again each other have gone in the open.

The events in Maluku give a good example of the collapse in the military command structure. What is happening on the ground in Maluku mirrors the fracturing of the armed forces as a whole. In Maluku, local military commanders can be divided into three categories, those who are unable to stop the violence; those who are unwilling to stop the violence and those who are organising and fanning the conflict. The military HQ in Jakarta has replaced the key commanders in Maluku. The territorial commander was replaced and a few later six officers in the regional command also got the sack. The new command structure has not been able to stop the violence.

The divisions within the TNI reflect the divisions in Jakarta.(33) Military analysts have divided TNI officers into three groups. About ten per cent are reformers, mostly in the navy and air force plus a small number of army generals. They back the policy of the TNI’s withdrawal from political affairs and have pushed hard for the abolition of the military doctrine Dwifungsi, which justifies the political role of the military. At a TNI seminar earlier this year, they pushed hard for an end to Dwifungsi. They are close to Wahid and the pro-reform movement but represent a small minority within TNI. In a major TNI reshuffle in January many reformers were appointed to strategic positions but in a subsequent reshuffle in July, most of them lost their jobs.

The second group, the so called hard-liners, believe that they are still entitled to define the course of the nation and play a role in political affairs. They are mostly army officers and include powerful generals who held key positions in the Suharto period. Their bottom line is to reject civilian supremacy over the military. In the past few years, their influence has diminished, not least because they resorted to so much violence to keep the Suharto regime afloat. Some are still loyal to the dictator Suharto but their common ground these days is the need to defend their political and economic assets. They are also well connected with former cronies and relatives of the Suharto family. Associated with this group are many officers with a military intelligence background. These are the officers who are likely to be stirring up the conflict in Maluku. They were the ones who financed and trained the militias in East Timor, a vivid example of how ruthless they are. Their aim is twofold: to create instability to show that the military are indispensable, and to underline the inadequacy of civilian rule.

The third group, the largest by far, are the so-called constitutionalists, and account for about 80 per cent of the officers. This group is more difficult to define. They function as average soldiers, obeying commands, which can also mean accepting the fact of an elected civilian government. On the other hand, many are unhappy with the present situation. They have lost political and economic power since Suharto’s downfall with nothing to take its place. The state budget for the military is very low and covers no more than 30 per cent of actual expenditure; the shortfall is covered by the proceeds from business corporations owned by the military. Large sections of the military are increasingly involved in organised crime like prostitution, drug-trafficking, illegal casinos, security arrangements for shopping malls and so on, to supplement their earnings. The Wahid government faces insuperable economic problems and cannot pay better wages, or provide better training and equipment for the average TNI soldier. Growing instability in the many trouble-spots (master-minded by their fellow officers of the second category) only forces them into the firing line, putting their lives at risk. Increasing numbers of soldiers are unwilling to be sent to war zones like Aceh or Maluku. The TNI rank and file, where demoralisation is rampant, is widely represented in this group.

In the last few years Indonesia has experienced several ethnic and religious conflicts. The worst was the conflict in West Kalimantan between local Dayaks and settlers from Madura in December 1996. Such conflicts are often complex because many local and external factors play a part but the conflict remained local and eventually died out.

The conflict in Maluku also contains a local and an external factor but the latter, the power struggle in Jakarta, has played the dominant role. In most accounts, the conflict is analysed in terms of the contradictions between the local communities in Maluku. Many Indonesianists as well as academics from Maluku take this approach. But human rights organisations take a different approach and have put more emphasis on the power struggle in Jakarta and its impact on Maluku.

The dramatic demographic change in Maluku in the last two decades is seen by some as the source of the conflict. Many new settlers have poured into Maluku, gaining positions in the economy. There is also the shift from Christian domination of the provincial administration to a more Muslim bureaucracy. A Muslim entrepreneurial middle class has emerged. But there is no reason to believe that these changes could have sparked such a vicious and entrenched communal war.

ad 4 TNI extra-budgetary activities

The state budget supplies only 25-30% of required funds. The tradition of acquiring money outside the official budget is almost as old as TNI itself. The majority of military personnel earn less than US$100 a month, depending on their individual circumstances.(34) The post-Suharto days has also created dents in the wide spectrum of military business. Some of the juicy extra-income sources have simply gone dry.

In the fifties, regional military commands developed a tradition of a barter exchange of agricultural products against consumer goods with neighbouring harbours like Singapore, Penang and Davao. While this practice was generally accepted by the TNI-HQ in Jakarta, as it gave the necessary additions to the meagre salaries, this practice was often abused by commanders by putting the revenues in their own pocket. Ex-dictator Suharto in his days as Central Java commander was the prime example of excessive smuggling of cash crops to Singapore. His economic empire began here as local warlord.

The problems of military financing go far beyond an inadequate defence budget. Mismanagement, corruption and ‘topping up’ military purchases are common evils inside TNI. The Wahid government realises that improving the salaries is the first essential step towards the professionalisation of TNI but the financial prospects of the state in the coming years doesn’t provide optimism to achieve this target. In the meantime other, more sinister ways are pursued to acquire the missing 75% of the budget.

By the end of the fifties dozens of TNI officers were despatched in companies, mostly nationalised Dutch companies. This process of ‘nationalisation’ continued until the birth of Orde Baru in 1965 with the take over of British and US companies. A new class of TNI business managers was created. The term kapbir (kapitalis birokrat, capitalist bureaucrat), commonly used by the PKI, the Indonesian Communist Party, was designed to target this group of nouveau riche officers. It could be argued that this was the raison d’etre why the military had to get rid of the PKI. The Orba era created innumerable opportunities and the most crucial parts of the economy, oil s the prime export earner and rice as the basic staple food product fell into the hands of the military. Pertamina, the state-oil company was in military hands until 1978 while Bulog, the rice buying and selling monopoly was also military led until very recent.

Military companies went mushrooming. In practically every section of the economy: natural resource extraction, fishery, finance, real estate, manufacturing and construction. TNI also developed a network of so called yayasans (charitable foundations) which receive money from the companies. It was an exact copy of Suharto’s large network of companies and yayasans.

In the earlier years of Orba, the sky was the limit for TNI officers. Super-rich generals were part of the Jakarta jet set. The practice of Ali-Baba companies became the common practice. Ali being the General who is the director of the company but only comes one a month to get his pay cheque and Baba is the Chinese entrepreneur who uses Ali as the guarantee to facilitate business licenses. But in the nineties, this tradition was almost vanished. Globalisation in Southeast Asia paved the way for the founding of mega-size companies, called conglomerates. These companies belong to the super-rich, the Suharto-family and cronies.

In the mid-seventies the first rot started to emerge. Pertamina, at the height of the first oil crisis with oil prices peaking, went bankrupt and had to be bailed out by the World Bank. Corruption at Bulog went rampant and the State had to step in. The majority of military managers were excessively corrupt and/or unfit to run companies. In 1980 the military Chief-of-Staff was forced to re-structurise the military business. In practice it meant the majority of companies were simply closed down because of heavy losses.

The TNI had to supplement their earnings from schemes outside the official economy as well as getting involved in organised crime. Illegal gambling dens, prostitution, drugs, protection rackets in shopping malls became money-spinners for the TNI. Many TNI members earn more from their ‘casual’ jobs than from being soldiers. Against the background of such widespread breakdown of discipline, it has become increasingly difficult for HQ to assert its authority.

Things grew worse when it was decided in 1988 that strategic companies needed special protection. TNI units developed special relations with ‘strategic’ companies like the high-tech military industrial complex and private companies like Freeport/Rio Tinto in West Papua. TNI soldiers became security guards for these companies, on their payroll. Exxon Mobil Oil, the US multinational in Lhok Sukon, Aceh enjoys special protection from both the police and the army. They spent approximately 5 billion rupiahs for the operational needs of TNI/POLRI, which includes daily pocket money of Rp. 40.000 per day.

Until the early eighties the several military components, the territorial commands, Kostrad, and Kopassus had their own string of private companies to raise money. But globalisation brought many of these companies to their knees because of mismanagement, corruption and inability to compete in the free market. Many generals became increasingly dependent on one or more companies or conglomerates. While low-ranking officers supplemented their meagre wages by moonlighting as security guards or store detectives, top generals became the errand boys of big business.

The years of rapid economic growth opened up new vistas for Kopassus soldiers. Businesses in the big cities needed protection and hired the services of Kopassus soldiers; partnerships were formed in the country’s industrial and business centres between these troops and organised crime. They also recruited local thugs, including members of the notorious youth group Pemuda Pancasila, for the more distasteful political jobs. Kopassus involvement with organised crime and the mafia became structural. Leading businessmen, the cronies of Suharto, hired Kopassus soldiers as bodyguards or chauffeurs.

The fall of Suharto has created even more difficulties for TNI to find means to fill the 75% gap in the budget. A whole range of military owned companies have gone bankrupt since 1997 while many of the crony-conglomerates are not in the position anymore to siphon off large amounts to the military. The premanisasi (increasing involvement in organised crime) of TNI has become even more blatant and the soldiers have become very creative (brutal) in finding extra income. In trouble spots like Maluku where a civilian emergency situation has been announced, soldiers benefit from this situation by demanding money from visitors from abroad to pay a daily allowance for functioning as guide i.e. private body guard. The TNI top is urging the government to declare an emergency situation in the different trouble spot areas like Aceh and West Papua. Needless to say, next to political motives, economic interests also plays a role in this demand.


1. See TAPOL, MIK, Solidamor: Plot TNI AD – Barat, Dibalik Tragedi '65, Jakarta, 2000

2. See Asvi Warman Adam, Kekerasan 1965 dan Rekonsiliasi Nasional, Gamma, Jakarta, Nr.33-2, 10 Oct. 2000
See also Sukmaji Indro Cahyono, Indonesia Dibawah Sepatu Lars, Defence Plea, Bandung, Sept.1979

3. See also M.R.Siregar, Naiknya Para Jenderal, SHRWN, Medan, 2000
See also Pledoi Kol. A. Latief, ISAI, Jakarta, 2000
See also Stanley (Ed.), Bayang-Bayang PKI, ISAI, Jakarta, 1995

4. See Rudy Gunawan & Nezar Patria, Premanisme Politik, ISAI, Jakarta, 2000

5. See Harold Crouch, The Army and Politics in Indonesia, Cornell, Ithaca, 1978
See ICG, Indonesia: Keeping the Military Under Control, Jakarta/Brussels, 2000

6. See Nugroho Notosutanto (Ed.), Pejuang dan Prajurit, Sinar Harapan, Jakarta, 1984

7. See A.H.Nasution, Memenuhi Panggilan Tugas, Jilid 6 & 7, CV Masagung, Jakarta, 1989

8. See Geoffrey Robinson, The Dark Side of Paradise, Political Violence in Bali, Cornell, Ithaca, 1995

9. See Hermawan Sulistyo, PALU ARIT di Ladang Tebu, KPG, Jakarta, 2000

10. See GAMMA 14 Oct. 2000, Asvi Warman Adam, Kekerasan 1965 dan Rekonsiliasi Nasional

11. See Robert Lowry, The Armed Forces of Indonesia, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1996

12. See Pat Flanagan & Julie Southwood, Indonesia: Law, Propaganda and Terror, Zed Books, London, 1983

13. See TAPOL Bulletin, No. 154/155, November 1999, The Kopassus/Militia Alliance, pp 13-17

14. See also TAPOL Bulletin No. 153, July 1999, The Army's Dirty War in East Timor

15. See Robert Lowry, The Armed Forces of Indonesia, Allen & Unwin, Sydney, 1996

16. See B. Wiwoho & Banjar Chaeruddin, Memori Jenderal Yoga, Bina Rena Pariwara, Jakarta 1990

17. See TAPOL Bulletin No. 160, December 2000, G30S An Army Intelligence Operation
See also Heru Atmodjo, Mengungkap Tragedi Kemanusiaan 1965, unpublished, Jakarta, August 2000
See also Atmadji Sumarkidjo, Mendung Di Atas Istana Merdeka, TImES Comm, Jakarta 2000
See also A.Katoppo (Ed.), Menyingkap Kabut HALIM 1965, Sinar Harapan, Jakarta 2000

18. See also GAMMA 3 Oct. 2000, Asvi Warman Adam, Betulkah PKI Terlibat G30S ?

19. See GAMMA No. 38-2, 14 Nov. 2000, Menunggu Lakon "Durno Gugat"
See also Asvi Warman Adam, Di Depan Mahkamah Sejarah, Satunet website 14.11.2000
See also GAMMA No. 38-2, 14 Nov. 2000, Soeharto yang Bermuka Dua

20. See Show trial in Aceh a setback for justice, TAPOL Bulletin No. 158, June 2000
See also A reign of Terror, Human Rights Violations in Aceh, 1998-2000, TAPOL, London, 2000

21. See Indonesia:Muslims on Trial, TAPOL, 1987
See also Geoff Simons, Indonesia, The Long Oppression, McMillan Press Ltd, London, 2000

22. See TAPOL Bulletin No. 152, May 1999, Growing Conflict within ABRI
See also DEPHANKAM, TNI Abad XXI, Redefinisi, Reposisi dan Reaktualisasi Peran TNI dalam Kehidupan Bangsa, Jasa Buma, Jakarta, 1999

23. See Tempo Interaktif, Jakarta, 14 Oct. 2000, Interview with Kusnanto Anggoro

24. See Jakarta Post, 30 October 2000, Public 'don't buy TNI reform claims'

25. See TAPOL Bulletin No. 152, May 1999, Police separated from the Armed Forces

26. See Jakarta Post 6 Oct. 2000, Military loyalty – between words and deeds,
See also Bilveer Singh, Dwifungsi ABRI, The Dual Function of the Indonesian Armed Forces

27. See Carmel Budiardjo & Liem Soei Liong, The War against East Timor, Zed Books, London, 1984

28. See Major Reshuffle in ABRI, TAPOL Bulletin No. 151, March 1999

29. See Jakarta Post 18 November 2000, Army Chief lashes out at bickering politicians

30. See Indonesian Observer 8 Nov. 2000, Edi Sudradjat blames ABRI for July 27 riots

31. See Wawancara Saurip Kadi: Bahayanya Bermain Politik, 8 November 2000

32. See Robert Creveling, Loyalty and Integrity in the Indonesian Armed Forces, US Foreign Area Officers Association Journal, USA, Spring 2000

33. See Demand for International Intervention in Maluku is growing, TAPOL Bulletin No. 159, September 2000
See also George Adicondro, Guns, Pamphlets & Handie-Talkies, Revised Paper Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Humboldt University, October 2000

34. See Lesley McCulloch, Trifungsi, The Role of the Indonesian Military in Business, BICC, November 2000
See also ICG Asia Report No.9, Indonesia, Keeping the Military Under Control, Jakarta/Brussels, Sept. 2000

Liem Soei Liong

London , December 2000