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Wiranto: Communication is vital in preventing crisis
Wiranto, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs. TEMPO/Imam Sukamto
Tuesday, 06 December, 2016 | 16:36 WIB
Wiranto: Communication is vital in preventing crisis

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Wiranto, Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security, was exceptionally busy as the December 2 mass rally approached. He led one meeting after another, ensuring that measures to secure the situation were in place when the 'Action to Defend Islam III' rally took place on that day.

When Tempo met Wiranto, 69, at his Central Jakarta office for an interview last week, the former Armed Forces commander had just ended a coordination meeting with State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Police Gen. Budi Gunawan, Attorney General Muhammad Prasetyo, National Anti-Terrorism Agency (BNPT) Police Comr. Gen. Suhardi Alius and Justice and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly. "The government wanted to make sure people were safe," said Wiranto.

He said the government had expected certain threats and terrorist acts riding on the back of the December 2 demonstration. The aim of the government was to eliminate those threats without causing confusion and fear among the public.

During the interview with Tempo reporters Sapto Yunus and Raymundus Rikang, he spoke at length about security issues faced by the government. The Yogyakarta-born minister was accompanied by his deputy in charge of security coordination and public order, Police Insp. Gen. Carlo Brix Tewu, and Vice-Adm. Warsono, the deputy in charge of communication and information coordination. Excerpts:

You suggested there would be no more protests after the one on November 4, but it happened again on December 2. 

The government wanted to make the public feel safe and secure so that all problems can be resolved peacefully. People have the right to demonstrate, so the one on December 2 couldn't be avoided. But we issued a reminder, that protests should not become a show of force and power. Because that would upset the people. Demonstrations are allowed, but they must comply with the law.

 

The government and certain protest groups agreed that activities would be held around the Monas (National Monument) Square. How was that agreement reached? 

There was intensive discussion between the police and the protest groups. I reminded them that there must be someone to be accountable for the demonstrations. At first, the Action to Defend Islam III rally was to have been a massive one, using major forces. They planned to hold Friday communal prayers along Sudirman-Thamrin avenues and then a long march to strategic targets like parliament (DPR) and the presidential palace. But that plan was aborted, it was agreed instead, that it would be a "spread your prayer rug act of worship" to include zikir (chants), sermons, joint and congregational prayer.

 

The protestors initially demanded that Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) be indicted, but now they're demanding that he be arrested. How does the government stand on this?

After the decision was made to indict Ahok after a police investigation, most people thought this was the right step. But certain parties wanted him detained.

 

Who are the people demanding that Ahok be arrested before the legal process is completed? 

We cannot count them one by one, but there are people still making such demands.

 

Ahok's indictment gives the impression that the legal process can be influenced by public demonstrations. After all, the government gave in to their demands. 

Who says so? We told people not to protest. The government does not favor demonstrations, but allows them, so long as they don't go overboard.

 

President Joko Widodo said some groups piggy-backed on the November 4 demonstrations. What about the one on December 2? 

The possibility was always there. The security forces always take into consideration the highest number and the worst situation. The government has taken steps to neutralize any action that could take advantage of the peace rally.

 

Is it true there were indications of ISIS elements taking advantage of the December 2 rally, as stated by the police? 

The government is aware that about 500 Indonesians left for ISIS territories, where they joined training camps. We know that exactly 53 of them have made it back to Indonesia. That group is being monitored by the BNPT (National Anti-Terrorism Agency). It's quite possible they made use of the recent demonstrations.

 

How is the government monitoring those 53 returnees? 

They have been contacted and we tried to make them understand their mistake in discarding the spirit of Pancasila, and to become good citizens. But among them are some who have not fully accepted this reality.

 

What is the most serious threat coming from them? 

We must monitor carefully these people who went there, trained with the ISIS groups and now are back in Indonesia, and we must change them. The government will take the right steps to ensure these people will not do anything to endanger national security.

 

Aside from terrorists, there are also people charged with treason. How do you define treason?

Treason is not an issue that I can discuss the publicly because of its sensitivity. I am sure there have been indications and intelligence reports that convinced the police chief to conclude there may be a case of treason. The police chief did not deliver that message because he wanted to worry people or to make them fearful, but to publicize the fact that the government is aware of them and that it has prepared the anticipated steps (to deal with them). (*)

 

Read the full interview in this week’s edition of Tempo English Magazine



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