Indonesia Military TNI: Why It’s Not Getting Involved In Politics Again

Unlike the military juntas that rule in Thailand and Myanmar, the Indonesian military, Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI), is today a professional fighting force subservient to civilian leadership.

But under President Suharto’s authoritarian rule from 1967 to 1998, the military was entrenched in government at all levels from parliament to local mayoral positions.

Upon Suharto’s resignation in 1998 amid the Asian Financial Crisis’ social unrest, the TNI gave up its pervasive role in politics and business, and democratic reforms under President BJ Habibie paved the way for direct elections.

While former senior military officials have since been in high office – including President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, a former general; and Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto, serving in President Joko Widodo’s Cabinet today – the TNI has stayed out of politics, and soldiers are barred from voting in elections.

Is this state of affairs likely to change? Dewi Fortuna Anwar at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (P2P-LIPI) thinks it is natural for political parties to court former military officers for their experience, while Assoc Prof Leonard C Sebastian of the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, RSIS, says he “cannot see the TNI attempting to engage in the same sort of activities as we have seen in Myanmar or Thailand” because of the different mindset of the TNI officer and countervailing forces such as Indonesian civil society and media.

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19 comments

  1. The short answer is no. Most people joining the military today no longer have political ambition like in the past. They joined knowing full well that a political career after their military career is over are no longer guaranteed.

  2. You know… I probably get in trouble by saying this… but, like that former general said…an ex military now can aim political achievement without any sort of coup… meaning why bother… just do your military job… and make sure people trust you… you’ll get a post in the goverment… even the presidential post… like our previous president… he is an ex army general… and he is beloved by all of Indonesian… so… yeah… and our current president is a small furniture businessman, (well… of course a waay back.. ) everyone here has a shot to lead the country no matter what is the background… and just let the democracy works… and show us what u can do…

  3. Fun fact: the previous owner of Mark & Spencer’s Indonesia was a military general.

  4. Indonesia is on the right track. Put aside military in politics. However individually a military person can be a national leader.

  5. Indonesia netizens is key role now. Get their heart you Will win anything in this country

  6. If I became Indonesian President I will make military come back. And I will kill many bad people. 😚

  7. I like how the Indonesian government handles drug dealers and drug users 👍👍👍