Markus Junianto Sihaloho
High profile graft suspect Neneg Sri Wahyuni, who entered Indonesia illegally by boat, has highlighted the need for authorities to secure the county’s maritime borders, a lawmaker said on Monday.
But maritime security is a daunting task for the world’s largest archipelago nation, as well as a bureaucratic challenge among the many government agencies tasked with guarding the coast.
Neneng, who was on the run for some 10 months, was arrested at her home in Jakarta last week. She had taken a domestic flight from Batam and is believed to have illegally entered the island just south of Singapore by boat.
Tubagus Hasanuddin, the deputy chairman of House Commission I dealing with politics defense and foreign affairs, said Indonesia wasn’t guarding its maritime territory well, which, in addition to Neneng’s case, has also been highlighted by illegal fishing and mining, the distribution of illegally logged timber, drug smuggling and human trafficking.
Hasanuddin, who is also a lawmaker from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, said that with a coast line of more than 81,000 kilometers and more than 3.1 million square kilometers of ocean territory, Indonesia needs better maritime management.
Currently, 13 institutions are tasked with patrolling the ocean and coastline, including the Navy, National Police, the Attorney General’s office, the National Intelligence Agency BIN, the National Search and Rescue Agency and the Indonesian Maritime Security Coordinating Board (IMSCB).
“It’s chaos, because the 13 institutions have tasks that often overlap, so that control on the field is vague,” he said, adding that coordination between the various institutions is also especially weak.
Hasanuddin said it’s time for the government to reformulate its maritime defense and security policies in a comprehensive and integrated manner. He cited the need for a clearer distribution of law enforcement authorities to reduce overlap.
The government also needs to determine a standard for maritime operation and defense, as well as which institution should lead the sector, he said.
“The essence is that it is now time for the establishment of an Indonesian Coast Guard that will be suitable for the needs of guarding and defense of Indonesia in the law enforcement sector, and to safeguard Indonesia’s sovereignty,” Hasanuddin said.