The House of Representatives (DPR)’s Deputy Speaker Lodewijk Freidrich Paulus said President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo would send a Presidential Letter (Surpres) on the appointment of the new Indonesian Military (TNI) Chief to replace Gen. Andika Perkasa. Based on the information received by DPR, the Presidential Palace has already processed the Letter.
“We are waiting for the TNI chief candidates from President Jokowi,” said Paulus of the Golkar Party.
House member and former TNI general Tubagus Hasanuddin said the process to replace the TNI chief has passed the deadline. The DPR will enter a recess period from December 16, 2022. Referring to the TNI Law, the House’s screening results of the new TNI chief must be submitted to the president 20 days before the recess, or before November 24, 2022.
Candidates from three services
“There are three candidates to replace the TNI chief. They all have the potential to pass the screening tests in the DPR. They are Army Chief of Staff (KSAD) Gen. Dudung Abdurrachman, Navy Chief of Staff (KSAL) Admiral Yudo Margono and Air Force Chief of Staff (KSAU) Marshal Fadjar Prasetyo. However, Yudo’s candidacy is likely to have strengthened, seeing the tradition of appointing the TNI chief from the three services,” said Hasanuddin, a retired two-star general from the House’s Commission I of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP).
Institute for Security and Strategic Studies (ISESS) cofounder and military observer Khairul Fahmi said that when appointing Perkasa, Jokowi did not put age and active period as his main considerations. It means that the same pattern to find Andika’s replacement could still be applied. Considering this, he said, Yudo would have the biggest opportunity as the next TNI chief as long as he has yet to retire. During Jokowi’s administration, there has never been a TNI chief from the navy.
“Although there is no normative provision that requires alternating among the three services sequentially, it does not mean that it is unimportant for consideration. Do not let the appointment create a hidden conflict, which later on has the potential to spark vulnerabilities for TNI solidarity, especially national stability. The president also has aspirations to build a maritime axis. If we look at the dynamics of the strategic environment, in the future we will clearly face many challenges and threats in the waters that require readiness,” he explained.
Nevertheless, Fahmi said, the TNI chief appointment was the president’s prerogative right and there were many aspects and national interests that he would consider.
“Whoever is deemed as the most appropriate [candidate], there is no reason not to be proposed. This is entirely the right of the president. Of course, the president is also fully responsible for the proposal,” he said.
Perkasa will enter his retirement age on December 21, 2022. Referring to Article 53 of Law No. 34/2004 concerning the Indonesian Military, soldiers carry out their service up to a maximum age of 58 years for officers and 53 years for non-commissioned officers and enlisted men. On December 21, 2022, Perkasa will turn 58 years old.
Of the three existing candidates for the TNI chief, Prasetyo only has an 11-month term of service. The average maturity is November 2023.
Next year is crucial for TNI
Since next year is a political year – as political parties and presidential candidates are gearing up for mass campaigns – President Jokowi must consider the readiness of TNI and the National Police to ensure national stability. If there was a sudden change in the military structure at that time, there might be internal conflict within the TNI. Many fear that the appointment of the new TNI chief will happen next year and TNI would not be ready to face the 2024 General Elections. There is also fear that the military will be infiltrated by political interests.
The new TNI chief must focus on his duties. He must also be able to accommodate all dimensions within the military as well as ensuring their functions. The president also needs to consider the aspects of the service period, TNI solidarity and also the president’s intention to strengthen Indonesia’s maritime axis.