SBY Tells Military Academy They Can’t Vote for Reason
Magelang, Central Java. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has said that the time was not yet right for members of the country’s security forces to be allowed to vote in political elections.
Yudhoyono was addressing 836 cadets from the Army, Navy, Air Force and National Police at a graduation ceremony at the Military Academy in Magelang (AMM).
Under Indonesian law, members of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) and the National Police (Polri) cannot vote in public elections.
“One day, when the political system is well-established and mature, and our democracy is really consolidated and political awareness is high, and the political culture is good, and there is no longer any conflict, then there will be no problem for TNI and Polri members to use their voting rights,” Yudhoyono told the graduating cadets late on Wednesday.
The law was instituted to protect an unstable democracy, Yudhoyono said.
“I am of the opinion that under the current situation in our country, and in line with the progress and the maturity of our politics and democracy, it would not be much better if the TNI and Polri also voted,” he said.
Problems could arise if political differences caused conflict within the security forces, preventing them from safeguarding the country’s political processes, he said.
Therefore, the country’s protectors must view the policy with a cool head rather than react to it emotionally.
The TNI and the National Police were separated in 1999 after the fall of strongman President Suharto. Relations between them have been fraught, with some clashes taking place.
Constitutional Court chief Mahfud M.D. has previously said conflicts stemmed in part from the TNI’s inability to accept that police officers had more authority than members of the armed forces.
“The state has yet to resolve this issue,” Mahfud said.
Yudhoyono used his speech to reiterate his commitment to improving the country’s weapons arsenal, saying that in the past two decades Indonesia fell behind its peers.
The effort, though, must be carried out with care and caution.
“The weaponry that we purchase must be in line with the challenge of modern times,” he said.
Whenever possible, he said, equipment should be produced domestically, as improving Indonesians’ prosperity was always the top priority.
The president said that although familiarity with information technology was a necessity, members of the armed forces and the police should not be become part of the “video games generation” that busied itself with technology at the expense of caring about what goes on in the world around it.