MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Indonesian military nothing more than mercenaries

Published by MAC on 2003-03-17


'Unchecked thuggery could lead to organized crime'

TNI nothing more than mercenaries: Analysts

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

March 17, 2003

The Indonesian Military (TNI) must stop collecting protection money from firms operating in the country as the largess would confirm the impression that TNI personnel were mercenaries who only sold their services to the highest bidder, analysts say.

Former defense minister Juwono Sudarsono and former Navy intelligence officer Djuanda said on Sunday that TNI should not have funding sources other than the state, and that collecting payments from other sources would erode their loyalty to the state.

"The state should be the only source of funding for the TNI," Juwono told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Djuanda said that by demanding protection, a perception had been created that the TNI was just a group of mercenaries.

"Continuing the habit of collecting fees from other sources has turned the TNI into nothing more than mercenaries and will create a loyalty crisis," Djuanda was quoted by Antara as saying on Sunday.

Yuwono and Djuanda were commenting on news reports that gold and copper mining company PT Freeport Indonesia was paying tens of billions of rupiah to TNI personnel guarding the company's operations in Papua province. Both TNI commander Gen. Endriartono Sutarto and PT Freeport Indonesia have confirmed the reports.

In 2002 alone, the company provided US$5.6 million for the TNI there, up from US$4.7million 2001.

Collecting protection fees from both state-owned and private firms is commonplace in Indonesia, where security personnel, both TNI and police are paid poorly, but given a free hand to "make" extra money.

Companies paying the fees are not limited to big firms like Freeport but also small firms or side-walk stalls who are required to pay protection money to either the TNI or the police.

Juwono said TNI personnel have been conducting the practices since the late 1970s, when the state budget was reduced for the TNI and the commanders in field were provided with a kind of "discretion" to acquire extra money.

"When I was minister of defense, an executive from ExxonMobil, Ron Wilson, admitted that the company provided support funding for security to TNI via state-owned oil and gas company Pertamina," Juwono disclosed.

He said the money was not delivered directly because the U.S. government banned the distribution of funds for the military or government officials for any reason.

"Usually, Pertamina plays the role as the funding channel from these mining companies for the country's security officers," Juwono remarked.

However, he refused to link such payoffs with a string of violence taking place around Freeport, which many suspect could be related to a desire for an increase in fees.

The murder of separatist leader Theys Hiyo Eluay in 2001, and the ambush killing of two American teachers and an Indonesian employed by Freeport on a road to the mine last year were two major cases which concerned the company.

Seven soldiers from the Army's special forces, Kopassus, are on trial for the Theys murder, while the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is still conducting an investigation into the ambush.

"The province is already a strife-torn area," Juwono remarked. Djuanda emphasized that such payments could make soldiers loyal to whomever could pay them the most.

The former military advisor for former president Abdurrahman Wahid said that safety of the country was the main obligation of the TNI and the government had specifically assigned them to protect energy sites from any security threats.

In the two war-torn provinces of Papua and Aceh, where several giant natural resource sites are located, there is an extremely heavy presence of military and police personnel.


'Unchecked thuggery could lead to organized crime'

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

March 17, 2003

The government should not turn a blind eye to rampant thuggery and instead, should lead a national anti-hoodlumism movement, as thuggery could lead to the emergence of organized crime, a politician and a criminologist have said.

United Development Party of Reform (PPP Reformasi) executive Zaenal Ma'arif called on the president to start "a dramatic step to eradicate thuggery practices".

"There is no other way but a drastic action from the president to use her authority (against thuggery practices)," he said, referring to the attack on the office and journalists of Tempo weekly magazine by men working for notorious businessman Tomy Winata.

Zaenal described Tomy, a tycoon known for his close association with high-ranking security officers and government officials, as "a mysterious man who is untouchable by law".

The attack against Tempo revealed that organized thuggery practices did exist in the country, and often under the consent of high-ranking security officials, Zaenal told Antara.

The Tempo incident has prompted community and national leaders, including People's Consultative Assembly Speaker Amien Rais, to call upon the government to eradicate thuggery practices.

Senior journalists from various media organizations have also launched a movement against thuggery, saying that if thuggery practices were left unchecked, freedom of expression would eventually be undermined.

Following mounting public pressure for the government and the House of Representatives to act against thuggery, the House Commission I on security and foreign affairs is scheduled to conduct a hearing with National Police chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar, representatives of Tempo, as well as Tomy Winata on Monday.

Criminologist M. Mustafa at the University of Indonesia noted that thuggery practices had been expanding without resistance in recent years, he told The Jakarta Post on Saturday, adding that organized hoodlums on the streets to large-scale gangs of thugs were available everywhere in the country.

Large-scale thug organizations are usually involved in debt collection, prostitution rings, drug dealings and gambling dens. Worse, Mustafa said, the organized hoodlums had been growing in number as they had established cooperation with security officers, bureaucrats and even politicians.

Saying that such practices existed in almost all countries in the world, he called on the government to take firm steps against thuggery, as it threatened the citizens' rights to protection.

Mustafa warned that if they were not reigned in from now on, these thuggery practices could become "the embryo of organized crime". He said that thuggery groups paid security officers in order to protect their often illegal businesses. Furthermore, these groups might even cooperate with government officials and politicians for additional business opportunities.

The attack on Tempo magazine was not the first one committed by men claiming to be sympathizers of Tomy. Last year, people claiming to represent Tomy threatened to burn down the office of Forum Keadilan magazine after the magazine ran a story implicating Tomy in connection with the drug business in Indonesia.

Last year, Tomy's Artha Graha Bank dispute with Indian firm Polaris led to the detainment of Polaris chairman Arun Jain and vice president Rajiv Malhotra. Both were released following unrelenting pressure from the Indian government.

The Tempo incident on March 8 started when some 200 people claiming to represent businessman Tomy Winata stormed the magazine's office, demanding

it retract an article in its March 3 edition about Tomy's plan to renovate Tanah Abang Market before it was gutted by a fire last month.

Several of the protesters forced a Tempo journalist to reveal the source quoted in the article. As the journalist refused, they threatened him, saying that Tomy bought equipment for the police and that he could easily buy the magazine.

In the presence of policemen, one of the protesters hurled a tissue box, injuring a journalist. They also assaulted the journalist and chief editor Bambang Harymurti at the Central Jakarta Police station.


Freeport confirms allowances for military, police in Papua

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

March 16, 2003

Tiarma Siboro and Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta U.S. gold and copper mining company PT Freeport Indonesia confirmed on Saturday that it had paid the Indonesian Military (TNI) protection money totaling US$5.6 million in 2002.

Company spokesman Siddharta Moersjid said money had been paid on an annual basis since the company started operating in Papua in the 1970s.

"But we introduced a comprehensive new approach to security in the area following an incident in Tembagapura in 1996," he said. He was referring to the abduction of 13 local and international researchers, an incident blamed on a separatist group under the leadership of Kelly Kwalik from the Mapnduma area.

Siddharta said money paid in 2002 was up on the $4.7 million paid in 2001.

The support consists of the cost of infrastructure, catered food and dining hall costs, housing, fuel, travel, vehicle repairs, allowances to cover incidental and administrative costs, and community assistance programs conducted by the military and police.

The total capital costs for associated infrastructure for 2002 and 2001 was $500,000 ($400,000 net to PT Freeport Indonesia) and $600,000 ($500,000 net to PT Freeport Indonesia), respectively.

Freeport's data showed the government had last year increased the number of security personnel stationed at the company's mining site from 200 to more than 2,000 soldiers. The force comprised, among other units, coastguard at the port, air force at the airport, riot-control personnel to deal with civil disturbances and both perimeter and on-site security at the mine and the mill.

"Many were shocked when they found out that we (PT Freeport) allocated millions of U.S. dollars to security personnel to guard the company, because they thought that we gave it in cash.

"But it is not like that because we allocated the funds to several posts, of which only a small amount was given to soldiers in cash as allowances," Siddharta told The Jakarta Post.

He said efforts to increase security was due to the government's concern over the mine, which was considered a "national asset".

Two Americans and an Indonesian who worked as teachers for Freeport were killed in an ambush near Timika in August last year. Many have linked the killing to demands for an increase in protection money. Siddharta refused to comment on the incident, which is now under investigation.

Separately, Indonesian Military (TNI) spokesman Maj. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin said that only 20 percent of the funds were given as cash allowances to soldiers assigned to protect the 2,800-square-kilometer site. Each of them received Rp 350,000 (S39) per month.

"The funds disbursed by PT Freeport should be seen as supporting funds for soldiers who have to face hardship while carrying out their jobs in remote areas like Timika," he said.

According to TNI standards, a soldier conducting an operation receives Rp 10,000 in daily allowance plus Rp 11,700 for daily meals, Sjafrie said. Sjafrie also revealed that the TNI was paid by ExxonMobile for security in the war-torn province of Aceh.

Asked why the Indonesian government did not directly control the distribution of the funds, Sjafrie said it did not matter because "TNI Headquarters receives annual reports on the disbursement of the funds for the sake of transparency".

The TNI has repeatedly complained about a poor annual budget allocated by the government, which the military claims accounts for 30 percent of the military's needs. The funds, TNI says, are far from enough to cover operations in troubled areas, not to mention to upgrade its equipment.

To fill the gap, the TNI has demanded it maintain its various business interests despite mounting public criticism.

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