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Southeast Asian Affairs 2006 INDONESIAN MILITARY REFORM More Than a Human Rights Issue John B. Haseman Military reform in Indonesia is an ongoing but long-term process. The armed forces are making remarkable progress in transforming itself into its new role in a vigorous democratic society.2 Since the resignation of President Soeharto in May 1998 the armed forces establishment has implemented important reforms to bring about this transformation.3 While the military is still the most powerful element of Indonesian society, it is no longer the monolithic arbiter of political power in Indonesia that it was for the three decades of Soeharto's New Order. Military reform in Indonesia is important to many players. Three institutional elements stand out in this regard. Obviously the greatest impact is on the Indonesian military itself. Military reform is also of consummate importance to the people of Indonesia, most of whom favour reform of the TNI in some substantial form. Finally, reform of the TNI is a key element in the foreign policy with Indonesia of several important friendly countries, including Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The TNI has not yet implemented all of the reforms its critics desire, but it must be given credit for the changes it has made to date. The TNI gave up its blocks of reserved appointed seats in parliament and regional assemblies. Military personnel now must retire before taking civilian government posts, whether electoral positions in parliament or at the province level and below, or in non-defence-related positions in the government civil service. This is a huge contrast to the Soeharto years, when thousands of military personnel occupied civil government and societal posts at all levels and active duty officers routinely filled John B. Haseman is a retired US Army Colonel who served ten years in Indonesia, including four years as US Defense Attache, 1990-94, and has written extensively on Indonesian and Southeast Asian political-military affairs. 112John B. Haseman cabinet posts. There are no active duty officers in the current national cabinet, a significant change from the Soeharto years.4 The TNI has withdrawn, as an institution, from day-to-day political activities. The TNI does not support any political party — no more wearing the yellow jacket of Golkar, for example, as senior officers did during the Soeharto years. While an important reform, this is also somewhat misleading because, in an ironic reversal of form from the Soeharto years, civilian political parties and politicians now seek support from the TNI and from influential individual senior military officers. It is therefore inaccurate to say that the TNI has withdrawn from politics. What it has done is to refuse institutional support to any political party. The TNI is still an influential force in Indonesian society, but it no longer dominates politics as it did during the Soeharto era.5 An American observer summed up the progress of military reform in these words: The military gave up much of their political power under pressure from civil society and voters and with a speed that is striking when compared with situations in some other post-authoritarian states. Though there is still a pressing agenda for further civil-military reform, it must be acknowledged that the military are now out of parliament, secondments to civilian posts have ended, there is the very beginning of a degree of defense budget transparency unimaginable a few years ago, and the military is increasingly under civilian control. While much remains to be done to further entrench a professional armed forces in the context of a democratic Indonesia, but clearly [sic] a lot of the hard work has begun, and begun to take root.6 Recent Trends in Military Reform Military reform was slow to develop in the immediate aftermath of Soeharto's fall. Reform did not have widespread political and financial support during the first three post-Soeharto governments so it fell short in many respects. The late Lieutenant General Agus Wirahadikusumah, the most vociferous reformist of that time, pushed hard for major military reform early during the administration of President Abdurrahman Wahid. He was vocal in pointing out areas of what he considered blatant corruption in military finances...


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