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PSPD    People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy

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  • 2008.10.21
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10 Years Indonesian Security Sector Reform:
CSOs Advocacy’s Strategies and Challenges

INDONESIA as 1,890,754 sq km an archipelago’s country in South East Asia within over 222,000,000 population, recently, still on struggle for its reform and democratic transition since 1998, when many element of government and civil society introduced processes of reform (reformasi) and tentatively set about dismantling some of the most repressive measures put in place by Suharto regime for 32 years. In 1998, the accumulation of political and economical crisis and the rejection of massive human rights abuses run by the government triggered people struggle to establish new democratic government. 
The tendencies of reform that working underground for few years after General Soeharto formally taking the power in 1966 being appear within the momentum of South East Asia economical crisis in 1997. From this moment, massive demonstration started by student from many universities around Indonesia against the dictatorship or regime and their inability to solve the crisis. As the result, on May 1998, Soeharto decided to resign from his presidency, and the new era called Reformation Orde is come. Recently, after 10 years of falling down of General Soeharto Regimes –on May 1998—the achievements and progress of reform still questioned, since some of agenda of reform not going on the well track or stopped.

This short article figuring generally role of Indonesian Civil Society Organization (CSOs) on security sector reform (SSR) and the response of the state for their advocacy in 1998-2008, based on the research of the Institute for Defense Security and Peace Studies (IDSPS), one of Jakarta based NGOs working on security sector reform advocacy and policy studies.

General Overviews of Reformation

Although some normative progress had been attained since the regime change post-May 1998, --such as the amendment of many legislations, the formation of extra-judicial institutions to strengthen control over the government, as well as a more open public ‘participation’ space to influence and supervise the decision making at parliament and government levels, however the state apparently remained to be ’weak’ in implementing, supervising and evaluating the implementation of those various policies.
Many Indonesian Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) say that the reformation process in general run stagnantly, even they had made efforts to encourage, influence and supervise reformation processes in all security sectors and institutions – Indonesian National Army (Tentara Nasional Indonesia, TNI), Indonesian Police (Kepolisian Negara REpublik Indonesia, POLRI) and the State Intelligence Agency (Badan Intelijen Negara, BIN)--, the Government (Presidential Body and Defense Ministry) and also the Parliament (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Republik Indonesia, DPR-RI)).

The strategic roles of this CSOs were quite diverse, --from the development of Security Sector Reform (SSR) discourse, the formulation and advocacy of policies, encouragement of accountability and transparency in security policy process and implementation, until the supervisions to and complains about the misuse and deviation of authorities--, even in the view of them the reformation that conducted now actually not yet resulted in one real form of well and expected democratic country.

State Responses; Not Well Enough

From year 2000, CSO advocacy was sufficiently focused and involved coalitions with many actors and approaches, as well as entering into a problem which was not (toward itself) an sich in political matters, but it was more to technocratic solution formulation in security sector, for example like the concept of defense, the concept of security, defense and security institution posture, budgetary policy and even the military and police educational curriculum development. This dynamics was influenced by several factors like 1). The existence of old elites’ compromise and accommodation to public demands for SSR; 2). The emergence of civil politicians from old and new political parties whose were accommodative to a number of democracy transition agendas; 3). The opened public access to SSR policy design, process and making, even though it had not been accompanied by a massive involvement in the formulation process or the substance tended to not fulfill public’s expectation yet; and 4). International community’s pressure and support to SSR agenda in Indonesia.

Another important note was that CSO’s roles in the last 2 governmental periods –Megawati Soekarnoputri and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) administrations— generally moved in a dispersed, partial orientation, without consensus and a strict role distribution, and also looked more pragmatic in guarding SSR agenda compared to the previous 2 governmental periods (B.J. Habibie and Abdurrahman Wahid). In some cases this condition was influenced by national and international macro-political dynamics such as counter-terrorism agenda giving wind to the state’s repressive behavior criticized as violating human rights principles and the increased international military cooperation with several countries as the revocation of United States of America (USA) embargo or restriction, the national and municipal elites’ interest pragmatism they deal with, the government’s face behaves conservatively to the change demand, as well as the state and the security actor consolidation and resistance direction as a reaction to either CSOs’ input or pressure.

In the other fact, CSO’s SSR advocacy now does not only keep dealing with resistances from security actors, but also collides with the state’s political behavior ambiguity and how poor the elite political support. At the governmental level, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono seems unenthusiastic to take initiative continuing reform processes inside the institution of TNI, moreover to respond to SSR ideas continuously expressed by CSOs, after being elected as the President in 2004 election. He builds TNI, POLRI and BIN’s loyalties to him rather than creating a democratic control structure.
The parliament itself seems busy with their political parties interests rather than encouraging, evaluating, supervising and taking action on the stagnation of a variety of SSR agendas. The discourse developed tend to stay away from SSR substance, which eventually brings up one paradox in which democracy issues and values have been interpreted and directed to justify ‘their’ many interests which are far from public aspiration. Formal and symbolic reform does happen in their hands, yet it is highly full of substantial set of problems which can become a political boomerang in the future related to compromise decisions on pro-status-quo, anti-reform and even anti-democracy interests.
The states threat analysis placing CSOs as one of the internal threats to national integrity and the unity of Indonesia is still showed by the government nowadays, especially from the military. This kind of views turns up because TNI still perceives that the human rights and law enforcement issues that encouraged by human rights NGOs are ‘ordered’ issues aimed to divide the unity of and debilitate TNI power.

Remark; Need More Work Further

Finally, this tendency in the end encourages recent CSOs’ SSR advocacy to put forward a more realistic agenda and strategy choice according to the program capacity and direction of each organization, for instance in certain policy and case rather than to consolidate and collectively escort SSR elementary issues as had been insisted during the past 1997-1998.

This condition may show that Indonesia’s democracy transition dynamics eventually experiencing juncture and saturated periods, where the positive possibility may boost the occurrence of security sector advocacy orientation or there may –as the negative possibility— exhaustion and dizziness to keep making advocacies in this sector.

Mufti MAKARIMALAHLAQ recently is an Executive Director of the Institute for Defense Security and Peace Studies (IDSPS) based in Jakarta, Indonesia. His email address is makaarim@idsps.org

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