Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Civil Military Relations in Indonesia: The Case Of ABRI’s Dual Function

                                                                            J.Soedjati Djiwandono

The civil-military relationship in indonesia is best characterized  by the concept of Dwifungsi, or “ the dual function,” of the Armed Forces of the Republic Of Indonesia (ABRI). The armed forces are not merely a state apparatus for national defense and security; they constitute a sociopolitical force that  interacts with civil society. This chapter explores the development nad evolution of the doctrine of Dwifungsi and its implications for democracy in Indonesia. In an era when countries all regions of the world are democratizing, this chapter questions the conventional wisdom regarding the relationship between particular configurations of civil-military relations and democracy. Is the consolidation of democracy contingent on civilian dominance in civil-military relations, to use David Mares’s terminology, or can it proceed when the military pays and active political role in politics? Specifically, is ABRI’s dual functions  antithetical to Indonesian democracy or not?

This chapter’s firs sections reviews the historical development of the Indonesian polity, from the postindependence experiment with parliamentary democracy through the establishment of the New Order under President Soeharto. The second sections discusses the genesis of ABRI’s dual-functions doctrine, as well as criticisms of the concept. The final sections discusses ABRI’s dual functions and its implications for Indonesian democracy.

In its relatively brief history,Indonesia has experienced numerous changes in its system of government and in its approach to democracy. In the initial months following the country’s proclamation of independence on August 17, 1945, Indonesia had a presidential system of government, which was subsequently transformed into a parliamentary system under the same costitution. For more than adecade,the parliamentary system of government persisted. Neverthless,the experiment with parliamentary democracy was doomed by the population’s growing disillusionment with the system. There were countless reasons for this dissatisfation,both internal and external in nature. In short, the decade of parliamentary government was regarded as a dismal failure.

Frustration with  “Western liberal democracy”, or what in Indonesian has always been regarded as the failure of “liberal democracy” ultimately let to the initiations of “Guided Democracy” under President Sukarno in 1959 ( what is now termed the “Old Order” in Indonesia). The period of guided Democracy was characterized by the strengthening of Presidential powers,  including a dramatic increase in legislative and other prerogatives enjoyed by that office. Eventually, guided Democracy was discredited and abandoned with the fall of President Sukarno, its principal sponsor. Since the 1960s, the country has been experimenting with what has been designated as “Pancasila Democracy” in the “ New Order” of General, now President, Soeharto. The term Pancasila literally means “five principles.” These principles constitute the state ideology of the Republic of Indonesia as embodied in the preamble of the 1945 Constitution, and they consist of a belief in God, national unity, humanity, democracy, and social justice.

In fact, the great divide in Indonesia’s half century of independence is that between the period of the Old Older under president Sukarno and that of the New Older under Soeharto. The epoch-making event that divided the two period was the abortive communist coup of 1965. It marked the only time in the half-century history of Indonesian independence that a change in the national leadership had taken place, albeit in a less-than-peaceful way.

It is important to note that, differences asides, President Sukarno’s Guided Democracy and the Pancasila Democracy of the New Order exhibit a common antipathy toward traditional concepts of democracy. Both regime bitterly criticized Western or liberal democracy for its “individualism” and “unbridled individual liberties, “which, they argued, are contrary to Indonesian culture and identity, caracterized by the “family spirit” or the “family principle” and the spirit of gotongroyong, or mutual cooperation. The term “Western democracy” and “liberal democracy,” and even the word “liberal,” have thus acquired a negative connotation. Both regimes attributed the failure of Western, liberal, parliamentary democracy in Indonesia in the postindependence period on the system itself, rather than on the practitioners of democracy, the political parties and their leaders at the time.

In other ways, the regime of General Soeharto represented an effort to break with the past regime. In the state address in which the laid out the goals of the New Order, General Soeharto stated, among other things, that “the ideological foundation of the New Order is none other than pancasila; the basis of the state of the New Order is none other than the 1945 Constitution; and the basis of its mental attitude is the pure dedication to the interests of the people at large.” He defined the New Order as a total correction of all forms of deviation perpetrated during the Order that was then in power, which is now called the Old Order. Deviations from Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution ... had wide and deep consequences ... Human rights were almost gone, for everything was determined by the will of the authority. Legal guarantees and protection hardly existed was the “sovereignty” of the leaders .... The wealth of the State was used for personal interests... They system of “guided economy” in practice became “a license system” that benefited  only a few close to the authority.­­1

In sum, Soeharto criticized Sukarno’s regime as corrupt and aspiring to absolutism because power was held, not by the supreme governing body (People’s Consultative Assembly and the House of Representatives) but by the “Great Leader of the Revolution,” President Sukarno himself.

Despite de aspirations of the new regime, many of the same criticisms leveled against the Old Older can be applied to Pancasila Democracy under the New Order. For example, the power of the presidency have continued to increse unchecked by legislative accountability. The president has been able to dominate legislative institutions such as the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) and the House of Representatives (DPR).2 this is due in part to the fact that the majority of the MPR members are appointed by the president himself and tha all candidates for the DPR and MPR undergo “special screening” as a condition for nomination well before the general election or before their appointment.

Recent demonstrations by Indonesia’s youth, particulary university students, and workers attest to the inefficacy of legislative institutions relative to the almost absolute power of the executive. The lack of the ligislative autonomy in complicated by the absence of an independent judiciary. Moreover, restrictions on freedom of speech and freedom of assembly remain firmlyin place. Recently, an emerging independent trade union was banned, and its leader sentenced to prison. In short, the poitical system seems to have been ossified, which makes communication almost impossible, except as a one-way process from top to bottom.

Perhaps it is in recognition of such a situation that openness has been encouraged by government leaders over the past few years; there have, in fact, been Indications of growing openness in the regime. The trade union leader referred to previously was suddenly released and a magazine recently won a court case agains the information Minister over restrictions on publishing licenses. More over, for some time a newly formed independent journalist’ alliance has continued to exist, albeit without official recognition. At one point the alliance’s publication was banned and three of its leaders were arrested, brought to trial, and sentenced to prison. Nevertheless, the publication has continued to survive, and no action seems to have been taken by the government against it. At the same time, the Indonesian Democracy Party (PDI), in same cases even the governmet Party Golkar (Functional Group) at the provincial and the district levels, and the Muslim Scholars’ Association (NU) seem to have succeeded in averting, or at least minimizing, government intervention particularly in the election of their leadership. Nenetheless, it is difficult to determine the limits to the regime’s openness.3

In sum, at present stage, democracy in Indonesia limeted. This is not to say that there has been no progress. In fact, although throughout the regime of President Sukarno there was only one general election (in 1955), since 1971 there has been a general election every five years. This progress has occured primarily at the formal level, for the holding of general elections has not helped state institutions to perform their proper functions. Instead, the political system has become more a situation of one-man rule, with the increasing concentration of power in the hands of the presidency. What is needed is reform on all levels of the political system so that state institutions function as stipulated by the constitution. Such reform should include the development of mechanisms to control the executive and a system of  accountability; the establishment of judicial review and a independent court of law; and a mechanism for a peaceful change of national leaders, that is, a system of succession. In other words, a revitalization of the existing system is in order.

The military roles embodied in the concept of Dwifungsi emerged in the postindependence period, as a result of both the sociopolitical role assumed by the military and the crystallization of an ideology supporting such a role. The sociopolitical role of the armed services was initiated when many military personnel were required to fill the vacant managerial posts left by foreign, particularly Dutch, companies that had been nationalized as a form of reprisal against the Dutch refusal to negotiate over West Irian. As a result of such initiatives, during the parliamentary period of the 1950s the role of ABRI in the nonmilitary fields was to some extent sanctioned by legislation.4

The origin of Dwifungsi is also grounded  in the evolution of an ideology based on hostility toward the type of civilian supremacy over the armed services usually associated with liberal democracy. During the period of parliamentary democracy in the postindependence period of the 1950s, ABRI was resistat to efforts to limit it to defense and security roles by keeping it outside the political and economic arenas and away from the process of political decisionmaking. ABRI resented what it perceived as efforts to manipulate and exploid it by the ideological political parties of the time. Exclusion from the political arena was anathema to the armed services, which had taken part in the struggle from national independece, not as professional soldiers, but as an integral part of the entire Indonesian population engaged in a national independence movement. The perception was that, as a result of its role in the independence movement, ABRI was entitled to take part in the nation’s effort to give content to that independence. From this perspective, and an institutionalization  of the role ABRI has played since the begining of the republic.

Nevertheless, it was during the guided Democracy period that the dual function concept began to be formulated into a concrete doctrine. The first articulation of the doctrine of  Dwifungsi was by general Abdul Haris Nasution. As Chief of staff of the Army, in an extemporaneous speech at a graduation ceremony at the military academy at Magelang, a town in central java, Nasution Asserted that the position of the Indonesian National Army (TNI)5 was not like that of an army in a western country, in which the military was solely an “instrument of the government.” Neither was it like that of various Latin American armies which monopolized political power. Rather the TNI was one of the forces of the people’s struggle and was equal to the other social forces with which it had fought shoulder to shoulder.6 Later on, a prominent laawyer at the University of Indonesia called this concept the army’s “middle way.”

Moreover, Nasution shared President Sukarno’s growing disenchantment with parliamentary democracy. In fact, the Indonesian armed forces’ disappointment with the parliamentary system had been building steadily throughout the parliamentary period. This was evident in the “October 17, 1952 Affair,” when there was a demonstration in front of the presidential palace demanding the dissolution of parliament. The demonstration was rumored to have been masterminded by the Indonesian armed forces at least partly as an expression of their dissatisfaction with the political system.7 At the same time, the armed forces had recently succeded in restoring their authority after crushing a regional rebellion in west Sumatra and North Sulewesi, while demonstrating their capacity to play a crucial sociopolitical role in filling many of the managerial posts left vacant by the Dutch. As a result, President Sukarno’s efforts to develop a new political “concept,    ” the culmination of which was embodied in the principles of “guided democracy,” enjoyed the support of ABRI leadership, which viewed it as an opportunity to put into practice Nasution’s “middle way.”8 Ultimately, with the support of ABRI, Sukarno issued the presidential decree of july 5, 1959, that dissolved the Consitituent Assembly and reinstalled the 1945 Constitution, on the basis of which President Sukarno would no longer act simply as a ceremonial head of atate but as an executive president. President Sukarno then had the opportunity to put into effect his concept of “Guided Democracy,” premised on ABRI’s playing an enhanced role in the political arena. In short, the implementation of guided Democracy represented a convergence of interests between President Sukarno and the leadership of ABRI.

Although ABRI’s dual function has its roots in the period of Guided Democracy, it is within the New Order regime under President Soeharto that Dwifungsi as a doctrine  has been given its constitutional and legal basis. The 1965 abortive communist coup attempt was a turning point for ABRI’s dual role, not only be cause it was an epoch-making event that served as the great divide in the recent history of Indonesia between the Old and New Orders, but also because it initiated a deepening of the entrenchment of ABRI’s role as a sociopolitical force in the polity. The legitimacy of the dual function originated in the esteem ABRI earned as a result of its role in the crisis; it had protected the nation from the devastation of a communist coup attempt.
ABRI claim to the dual function originates in its historical role in the development of the independent Indonesian state. In short,

ABRI was born out of the people, raised by the people, for the people, and forms an inseparable part of the people ..... as a logical consequence of the proclamation of independence of the Indonesian nation on 17 August  1945, when the whole people were struggling to assert, defend, and preserve their Independence in order to realize their ideals as a nation .... it is of these struggling people that a part later became ABRI.9

In his first state anddress has acting president on August 16, 1967, General Soeharto’s comment outlined the aspirations of the New Order and conveyed a simililar sentiment:

The role contributed by ABRI to political developments and state affairs can easily be understood if we look back at the birth and history of its growth. ABRI was born simultaneously with the outbreak of the physical Revolution ....ABRI is an armed force that was born and grew to give birth to independence. ABRI is not a mere mercenary armed force, it also gives content to independence; ABRI has also the right and obligation to take part in determining State policy and the running of government.10

Such a historical claim, however, has engendered a problem largely overlooked in the debate about the legitimacy of Dwifungsi. The dual function may be justified for the original  independence fighters, who subsequently constituted the core of Indonesia’s armed forced. But the historical justification may be dubious for the post-1945 generations of ABRI members, for whom Dwifungsi is not founded on personal experience.11

Nevertheless, it may be argued that now Dwifungsi should be viewed in terms of the constitutive rules which regulate Indonesian politics. The dual function has, in fact, been legally entrenched in a long series of legislative initiatives. The codification of the dual role is evident in legislation related to defense and security, that associated with elections and political parties, and legislation that addresses the relationship between society and the armed forces. For example, law No. 20/1982 describes ABRI as a “dynamizer” and “stabilizer” that” together with other social forces assumes the duty and responsibility of securing and bringing to fruition the straggle of the nation based on freedom and raising the welfare of the whole Indonesian people.12

Yet, although the historical explanation of Dwifungsi would be incomplete without taking into consideration the institutionalization of the concept, it is also essential to recognize that the evolution of the constitutive rules based on Dwifungsi have occurred within a particular ideological is important in this context to explore how ABRI itself perceives its role. In ideological terms, Dwifungsi is said to stem from the principles of Pancasila; implies that in adition to being a defense and security force, the members of ABRI also constitute a social force: “the two [roles] are a realization of its function as an Indonesian citizen, fighter, and soldier with responsibility for the maintenance of national security and the realization of a just prosperous society, materially and spiritually, on the basis of Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution.”13       

ABRI’s dual function is also reflected in its relationship with other social forces in society. ABRI views itself as a partner or participant in civilian politics, neither dominant or subordinate to it: “Cooperation between ABRI and existing [forces] in society needs to be promoted and fostered. ABRI always wants and tries to up-hold democracy on the basis of Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution and does not wish for militaristic, dictatorial, and authoritarian methods. In this case, ABRI as principal supporter of the New Order must try to set an example in carrying out Pancasila Democracy, refraining from always having its way.”

The basis of the cooperation relationship between ABRI and the rest of the population is reflected in the 1945 Constitution and, in particular, in Article 30. It state that “every citizen shall have the right and duty to take part in efforts for the defense of the state. Therefore, the system of National Defense and Security ... [requires that] all national forces will be totally and integrally utilized with ABRI as core in order to defend the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Indonesia, secure the integrity of the nation and safeguard efforts to attain Indonesia’s national goals.” Article 30 also asserts that, being born of the people, ABRi has the right and duty to take part in the nondefense and nonsecurity aspects of national life, which would otherwise be the exclusive domain of civilian citizens. In other words, ABRI is not to be excluded from nondefense issues. Rather, “ABRI has a direct interests in contributing to the realization of the society’s welfare.”       

In summary, ABRI is required to act in unity with the civilian social forces not only in time of war or armed conflict but also in time of peace, that is, in the absence of war or armed conflict. The implication of this is that ABRI will continue to play a prominent role in Indonesian society in all fields at all times, in times of peace and in times of war.

  1. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data, CIVI-MILITARY RELATIONS (Building Democracy And Regional Security In Latin America, Southern Asia, And Central Europe) / edited by David R. Mares, 1998. Published in 1998 in the United State of America by Westview Press, 5500 Central Avenue, Boulder, Colorado 80301-2877, and the United Kingdom by Westview Press, 12 Hid’s Copse Road, Cummor Hill, Oxford OX2 9JJ.
  1. President Suharto, State Address As Acting President On The Occasion Of Independence Day, 1967, Jakarta Ministry of Information, 1967.
  2. J. Soedjati djiwandono, “After 50 Years RI Democracy Needs Reform,” Jakarta Post, August 16, 1995.
  3. J. Soedjati Djiwandono, “RI Democracy in 1994: A Tug of War?” Jakarta Post, January  2, 1995.
  4. Law No. 7/1957on the National Council and Law No. 80/1958 on the National Planing Council, for example, simply provided  ABRI with a legal status as a “functional group.” And MPR Decision No. 24 / 1958 provided for ABRI representation in the provisional House of Representatives (DPR-GR).
  5. The term TNI now is also used to refer to the air force (TNI/AU) and the navy (TNI/AL), whereas the army itself officially designated as TNI/AD.
  6. Cited by David Jenkins, “Soeharto and His Generals: Indonesian Military Politics, 1975-1983,” Cornell Modern Indonesia Project Monograph Series (Ithaca: Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University, 1948), 2.
  7. For an account of the events surrounding the affair, see for example, T. B. Simatupang, Membuktikan Ketidakbenaran Suatu Mitos [To Prove the Falsity of a Myth] (Jakarta: Pustaka Sinar Harapan, 1991), 154-177 and 273-297. The author was Indonesia’s first Chiefs of Staff of the Indonesian Armed Forces, an equivalent of chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff in the United State.
  8. A good account of political developments in Indonesia during this period is Herbert Faith, The Decline of Constitutional  Democracy in Indonesia (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1962).
  9. Form a lecture, “ABRI’s Dwifungsi and the Indonesian National Army: Prospects for the future,” delivered by General Rudini, then Chief of Staff of the Army, to students of the Indonesian Institute for the Promotion of Management, Jakarta, July 31, 1985. Translation in English is my own.
  10. The quotations are taken from a special publication (C.461) by the department of Information of the Republic of Indonesia, (no date). Translation in English is my own.
  11. Ian MacFarling, “The Evolution of the Indonesian Armed Forced: A Case Study in the Fusion Civil and Military Roles,” Ph.D. diss., Politics Department, University Colege, University of the New south Wales, n.d., 196; on the number of Indonesian soldiers of the Dutch colonial army thus integrated, see ibid., 68.
  12. An explanation of the legal foundation for Dwifungsi is to be found in Buku Petunjuk Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia tentang Dwifungsi BRI [Guidebook for the Armed Forces of the Republic of Indonesia on the Dwifungsi of ABRI] (Jakarta: Dept. of National Defense and Security, 1982), hereafter referred to as Guidebook.
  13. This and the following quotation are taken from Guidebook, 13-30. The translation into English is my own.                                           

1 comment:

  1. Hey buddies, such a marvelous blog you have made I’m surprised to read such informative stuff.

    Apec-Smesa Homepage