Wanted: a Non-political TNI Commander

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Laila Afifa

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  • TNI Commander Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto gave a statement at a press conference regarding the discovery of the Sriwijaya Air SJ182 black box which was displayed at a press conference at JICT Pier, Tanjung Priok, Jakarta, Tuesday, January 12, 2021. TEMPO / Hilman Fathurrahman W

    TNI Commander Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto gave a statement at a press conference regarding the discovery of the Sriwijaya Air SJ182 black box which was displayed at a press conference at JICT Pier, Tanjung Priok, Jakarta, Tuesday, January 12, 2021. TEMPO / Hilman Fathurrahman W

    TEMPO.CO, JakartaThe candidates for TNI commander are maneuvering to seek support. If the President chooses the wrong person, the aspirations of the reformasi movement will not be achieved.

    President Joko Widodo should use the remaining term of Marshall Hadi Tjahjanto to carefully choose the commander of the Indonesian Military (TNI). Whichever candidate Jokowi chooses must be able to restore the dignity of the military. The next TNI commander must not be involved in practical politics or become a political tool of the government. Jokowi has selected three chiefs of staff with the potential to replace Hadi. Although Hadi will only retire in November, the signs of competition - particularly between Army Chief of staff Gen. Andika Perkasa and Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Yudo Margono - are increasingly apparent. Andika is being promoted by his father in-law. Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono, former director of the National Intelligent Agency. Meanwhile, Yudo has been calling on senior TNI personnel - a move that could be seen as asking for support.

    The candidates have every right to maneuver to win the TNI commander's seat, but this competition should be in the interests of reforming the institution, not for political ambition, for example to run for the presidency. If it is the latter that is done, the military will be plunged into short-term political interests.

    Jokowi should not choose a TNI commander simply based on his closeness, yet alone to return a favor for political support during the election or after he came to office. The politics of returning favors always ignores the integrity and capability of the candidate chosen - as it clear from the appointment of many commissioners of state-owned enterprises. Apart from making the appointed candidates happy, handing out positions helps neither the interests of the public nor the organization.

    In order to improve the TNI, the track record of Hadi's replacement must be used as the basis for consideration. The new commander must be professional and tested as well as able to return the military to its proper place as a tool of the state.

    The military is a means of defense and not a political tool of the government. Entry of the military into politics during the New Order wrecked Indonesian democracy. This is why the 1998 reformasi mandated that the military would no longer take part in politics. Since the reformasi era began, the job of defese minister has always been held by a civilian. During the Jokowi era, these fundamental principles have been a military background, was appointed defense minister to meet the requirement for political balance.

    The TNI commanderis a strategic job for the government to implementreforms within the military. Choosing the right candidate with commitment will ensure that this program is properly carried out. Conversely, an insincere candidate will lead to this program failing.

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