TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - International law professor, Hikmahanto Juwana, form University Indonesia said that he is apprehensive about Prabowo Subianto’s idea to establish an Indonesian Natuna military base in the Riau Islands, and the country’s eastern region.
“What I am most worried about is if it would create friction over Natuna sea, especially between [state authorities], which would involve weaponry,” said the professor in a public ‘Cross Check’ discussion on facing China held in Jakarta on Sunday, January 12.
He argues that the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) should be strengthened first and foremost before any military base is established near one of the most disputed maritime borders.
“Maybe the TNI must be bolstered first,” he said.
According to Hikmahanto, the presence of a military base will not be in the context of upholding Indonesia’s sovereignty but rather due to the fact that Chinese boats have been known to oust Indonesian fishermen from the area.
However, he asserts that the TNI’s authority will only be limited to 12-miles from Indonesia’s islands as the Natuna dispute with China is within the EEZ. “They will not be able to uphold the country’s sovereignty if it’s outside the 12-mile radius,” said the professor.