House Unanimously Approves Moeldoko as New Army Chief
[Updated at 8:41 a.m. on Thursday, August 22, 2013]
Legislators vetting Gen. Moeldoko, the Army chief of staff and sole candidate for military commander, say they unanimously approve his nomination, despite previously vowing to take him to task over military brutality and impunity.
Mahfudz Siddik, the chairman of House of Representatives Commission I, which oversees defense and foreign affairs, said on Tuesday that all nine parties in the House were in agreement about Moeldoko becoming the new military chief to replace Admiral Agus Suhartono, who retires later this month.
“All the parties have expressed their approval of Gen. Moeldoko as the military commander,” he said, adding that some of the parties had even submitted written formal approval.
Mahfudz, form the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), said that with no objections to the nomination, House Commission I could immediately submit a letter to the House speaker confirming its approval of Moeldoko.
“After that, all that remains is for the president to inaugurate him,” he said.
Tubagus Hasanuddin, a deputy chairman of Commission I and a former Army general, said Moeldoko had a “clear” track record, based on an evaluation by the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) and a verification of his wealth report by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
“Background checks by both the KPK and Komnas HAM show that Gen. Moeldoko is free and clear of corruption and of any indications of human rights abuses,” said Hasanuddin, from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
He added that Moeldoko had also previously initiated a memorandum of understanding with the KPK to combat corruption in the Army, highlighting his antigraft stance.
Priyo Budi Santoso, the House deputy speaker from the Golkar Party, said he had long been confident that the vetting process would go without a hitch.
“The way I saw it, it was always going to be smooth sailing for him,” he said.
He added Moeldoko had long been known for his solid military record and for not being a politically charged figure like other top brass in the armed forces.
Legislators also spoke up for the general amid media speculation about the source of his wealth, after the KPK had verified the value of his assets at Rp 36 billion ($3.3 million).
Ramadhan Pohan, the deputy Commission I chairman from the Democratic Party, warned the media not to engage in slander against Moeldoko, saying he had been fully transparent about the money.
“Don’t make false accusations about [Moeldoko having committed] any violations,” he said. “As far as Commission I is concerned, he has no bad marks from the KPK or Komnas HAM, so that’s as good as it gets.”
He added that Moeldoko came from a wealthy family, so it should not be considered unusual he had amassed so much wealth over time.
Among the assets confirmed by the KPK are homes and land worth a combined Rp 22 billion, precious metals worth Rp 4.6 billion, and bank accounts holding Rp 2.8 billion and $450,000.
The House’s unadulterated praise for the Army chief and lack of hard questions during Wednesday’s vetting comes in stark contrast to the legislators’ earlier promise to grill him on rights abuses by the armed forces, in particular the summary execution in March of four police detainees by Army Special Forces (Kopassus) soldiers.
The detainees, suspected of having killed a Kopassus member, were gunned down out of a sense of “esprit de corps,” the military has repeatedly insisted, in an apparent bid to play down the severity of the offense.
Tantowi Yahya, a Golkar legislator, said just hours before Wednesday’s questioning that the House would take a hard line with Moeldoko on this matter.
“We want to press him on [the two issues] of [territorial] sovereignty and human rights protection,” he said, as quoted by Tempo.co.
He also said that legislators would take the general to task about a series of clashes between soldiers and civilians and police, which has been blamed on declining morale and discipline in the ranks and jealousy over the better working conditions and welfare for police officers.
Tantowi said that once Moeldoko was named the military chief, he should make human rights protection a priority of his leadership, including by ensuring justice in the court martial of the Kopassus jail attackers.