Muradi, Bandung | Opinion | the Jakarta Post| Sat, February 25 2012, 1:42 PM

About five years ago the Defense Ministry and the Indonesian Military (TNI) proposed to the House of Representatives a national security bill, which has since sparked a long drawn-out polemic that only shows that related institutions do not all share the same ideas about security issues. 

The National Police has repeatedly expressed its objection to the parts of the bill relating to the role and position of the police, especially so during the terms of National Police chief Gen. Sutanto and Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri.

According to the bill, the police should be part of or subordinate to a ministry. The two former police chiefs insisted that the position of the National Police directly under the President’s supervision was a political reality. It would be hard for the police to implement their institutional role if they fell under a minister’s auspices.

The current police chief, Gen. Timur Pradopo, however, was not able to keep the debate on the National Security Bill afloat after the House passed the state intelligence bill into law to control the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) last October. 

All institutions involved in security and defense affairs in Indonesia — the police, TNI and BIN now come under one legal umbrella. So, the need for a national security law is essential in order to integrate the three institutions and to guard national sovereignty against threats as stipulated in the bill. 

In my opinion, the police’s reluctance to accept the national security bill is part of efforts to keep their role as the institution in charge of internal security affairs, as stipulated in Law No. 2/2002 on National Police. If the House passes the national security bill, the role of the police in internal security affairs may be taken over by the National Security Council (DKN) as a new institution with branches down to municipality and district level in the form of a Coordinating Forum of Regional Security (FKND).

The FKND may hinder the roles of the existing Regional Leaders Consultative Forum (Muspida) and Regional Intelligence Community (Kominda) as neutral and military-free institutions as a consequence of the police’s separation from the Armed Forces. 

With the existence of the DKN, certainly the police will no longer play a significant role in Muspida and Kominda.

The police’s role in terms of policymaking and internal security planning will also diminish, because the DKN should be chaired by a minister, almost certainly the defense minister. 

The police will merely become an executor of national security policy, just like the TNI and BIN. This certainly contradicts the National Police Law, which mandates the police to formulate and implement policy and strategy related to internal security, public order, protection, public service and law enforcement.

The DKN whose line of command reaches into the provinces and down to municipality and district levels may also become an entry point for the military to regain its past influence and role at the regional level. 

It will raise uncertainty over the division of labor between the police and military as stipulated in the National Defense Law, the Police Law and the TNI Law.

All these laws will be rendered ineffective due to the presence of the powerful National Security Council. It is also feared the Council will restore and strengthen the obsolete territorial role and institution of the military.

Government Decree No. 3/1954 stipulates the military’s obligation to provide support to the police when needed. If the House passes the national security bill, the prerequisite for military involvement in national security will be justified at the expense of the police. 

An example of potential disruption of the police’s role is in anti-terrorism as stipulated in Law on 
Anti-Terror No. 15/2003, which precisely states the preeminent role of the police force in combating terrorism.

However, the national security bill considers terrorism a threat to national security, rather than a crime. If the House endorses the bill, the military may take over the police’s role in combating terrorism. 

The bill has caught the police in a bind due to possible changes in its role. The force may be considered a powerful institution and has gained many benefits from its recent position and role. 

If it accepts the bill, the immediate impact will certainly be reduction of its strategic role at the national and regional levels. On the contrary, if the National Police oppose the bill, they will be deemed as an obstacle to institutional security reform and the restructuring process.

Beyond the controversy, however, as an institution in charge of internal security affairs, the police should take part in the formulation of the national security bill. 

The police may suggest proportional distribution of roles among the institutions that deal with national security affairs.

The ultimate goal of the national security bill is actually clear: the security and unity of the Republic 
of Indonesia.

The writer, a PhD from Flinders Asia Centre at Flinders University, Adelaide, South Australia, is a lecturer of the Department of Governance Studies at Padjadjaran University, Bandung.