TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - DO not be surprised that weapons systems used by the military in this country never improve. From the trillions of rupiah allocated for the purchase of various weaponry such as airplanes, helicopters, tanks, radar, and ordinary firearms, considerable funds can be easily ended up in people's pockets. An unsatisfactory oversight mechanism and a justice system that gives special treatment to military personnel mean that corruption within the military always goes unpunished.
This conclusion was reinforced by the findings of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in the bribery case involving the procurement of CN-235 airplanes and Bell 412EP helicopters as well as a number of military equipment supply projects by Dirgantara Indonesia from 2008 to 2016. A number of former directors of the company have been named suspects and detained. Last week, the case that resulted in losses to the state totaling Rp303 billion was handed over to the Jakarta Corruption Court. The trial will start soon.
Over a decade, no less than Rp178.9 billion was paid by Dirgantara Indonesia via various intermediary companies into the bank accounts of hundreds of officers -- from lieutenant colonels to marshals, and from admirals to generals. Also included were officials at the ministry of defense and other ministries. The amounts that these people received varied from tens of millions to billions of rupiah, depending on the rank and position.
While some have retired, a number of the generals are still active, although they occupy other positions in the government. The names of Indonesian Military (TNI) officers from the Army, the Air Force and the Navy are in black and white on the list of recipients of commission from these projects. However, ironically, not a single one of them has been named a suspect.
Corruption is now like a person breaking wind. There is a foul smell, but the person responsible is hard to find. This is an apt analogy to illustrate the practice of corruption within the military. Even with clear and convincing evidence, it is not easy to take the people responsible to court. Although Law No. 19/2019 on the Corruption Eradication Commission still gives the KPK the authority to coordinate investigations of corruption involving members of the military, this process must go ahead with the police and the military prosecutor.
As long as Law No. 31/1997 on military courts has not been revised, civil investigators such as the KPK will not be free to investigate cases of corruption within the military. The uncovering of the corruption case involving the supply of satellites to the Indonesia Coast Guard and the bribery over the procurement of AgustaWestland 101 helicopters for the Air Force, for example, did not touch any of the senior officers. And with the KPK shackled as it is now, ridding the military of corruption seems almost impossible.
Ending graft in the TNI would bring major and positive effects. The procurement of weapons systems without corruption would, for example, improve the quality of the nation’s defense. And with efficient use of the budget allocation, the funding to improve the welfare of officers, retired officers and veterans could be increased. Conflicts that often arise around the availability of army housing, for example, could be minimized.
After all, the ministry of defense budget, which totaled Rp137 trillion in 2021, is the second largest after the ministry of public works and people’s housing. Without transparency and a satisfactory oversight mechanism, the promise of Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto to put right a number of irregularities in the weapons procurement mechanism in Indonesia will be nothing more than empty rhetoric.
Fundamental improvements also need to be made to our weapons industry. For years, strategic corporations such as Dirgantara Indonesia have experienced frequent financial difficulties. Without good management and the implementation of the principle of no corruption, it will be impossible to save this type of company.
The Dirgantara corruption case has brought shame to the TNI and the ministry of defense. However, rather than trading accusations and blame, senior officers would do better to put their houses in order. The commander and leaders of the branches of the TNI need to remind their subordinates of the meaning of the seven-point military code of honor, the Sapta Marga. If necessary, another article could be added to the soldier’s oath: they must not take bribes or practice corruption.
Read the Complete Story in Tempo English Magazine