House of Representatives Further Delays Deliberation on Military Reserves Bill
Markus Junianto Sihaloho
The House of Representatives said on Thursday that it would further delay the deliberation of the Military Backup Component Bill due to strong resistance from the public, academics and civil organizations.
Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro announced last week that the deliberation of the bill governing service in the military reserves will be postponed in order to prioritize the national security bill.
Purnomo added that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had asked the Defense Ministry, the Justice and Human Rights Ministry and the Home Affairs Ministry to discuss the national security bill.
“We should not debate the terms of conscription simply because countries with diplomatic ties to Indonesia implement it,” Tubagus Hasanuddin, deputy chairman of House Commission I, said. “The Military Backup Component Bill should be adjusted in accordance with the country’s political conditions, defense systems and human rights values, as well as take into account people’s professions.”
Many disagree with a term of reserve duty as it is not in accordance with the Constitution.
“The bill needs a strong legal foundation,” Hasanuddin said.
The Defense Ministry stressed that the reserves bill did not involve compulsory military
service. It regulated the rights and obligations of every adult citizen
to take part in defending the country, and stated that training must be
offered to both men and women
There are several articles within the bill that have been scrutinized, notably Articles 8 and 14: Article 8 stipulates that civil servants and employees of private institutions that meet the bill’s requirements are obliged to be members of the reserves. Meanwhile, Article 14 requires citizens to give away their personal belongings during mobilizations of soldiers and resources in order to provide for the national defense.
“There’s also [disagreement] about an article on sanctioning those who do not agree to join the reserves,” Tubagus said.
The House of Representatives maintains that it has considered public opinion while dealing with the issue. They claim that the citizenry of Indonesia does not consider military service a top priority since Indonesia is not currently under threat and already has 400,000 soldiers at its disposal.
“There is a proposal that the fund set up for mobilizing [reserves] should instead be used [to increase] soldier’s salaries and to improve their housing, as well as to replace outdated weaponry systems with more sophisticated technology.”
With so much resistance toward the measure, Tubagus said, the House Commission I has decided to delay the deliberation of the bill indefinitely.