Fundasaun Mahein; 24th July 2014
The Politics of Purchasing Weapons from Indonesia: A Threat to Security Strategy
Timor-Leste and Indonesia recently are really enjoying a romantic cooperation in some important sectors. This cooperation has occurred on economic, social, security-related, and even political fronts, as the two countries vie for Timor-Leste’s induction to the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). This occurs in spite of the historical rivalry between FALINTIL and TNI (Tentara Nasional Indonesia), who were enemies during the Indonesian occupation. It is the first time Timor-Leste appears, 15 years after the people of Timor-Leste separated from Indonesia. It can be said that, though these enemies aimed to kill each other in the past, now these powers are looking to support, lend funds, and sell military equipment to each other. This cooperation can strengthen the relationship between these neighboring countries and serves as an importance means of enhancing good relations, peace, and stability in region.
But one must consider another angle as well, from the perspective of policy and strategy, if these countries are to depend on each other for military equipment. Enemies can be friends, yet this depends on each county’s interest. Timor-Leste and the Republic Indonesia are developing and dealing with the defense cooperation area, and the main provision of this contract is that Timor-Leste intends to purchase military equipment from PT.PINDAD (Persero) and other entrepreneurs from Indonesia that produce the military’s equipment.
Prior to this, Timor-Leste has purchased weapons on a large scale from the PT.PINDAD (Persero). 75 ‘PM2-V1’ weapons were issued to the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) in 2012. According to the Indonesian media, Timor-Leste will purchase more military equipment. Therefore, Timor-Leste will communicate intensively with Indonesia through the contract that has been signed by leaders of the two countries.
However, Timor-Leste needs to know that Indonesia does not ensure yet management and controlling of the weapons themselves. Some weapons have been used by some terrorists in Asia, entrepreneurs, civilians, and other army groups in Papua. These weapons have also been used in some conflict areas in Indonesia, such as Poso and Maluku. Those weapons are produced by the PT.PINDAD (Persero), and the weapons are being sold by individuals of the National Indonesia Military (TNI) and the Indonesia Republic Polices (POLRI), including weapons stolen from the TNI and POLRI armories.
On another note, Timor-Leste and Indonesia have close boundaries and seas, and this poses a potential threat. If any situation occurs along the border line, Timor-Leste and Indonesia will blame each other if criminals or terrorists use these weapons. Timor-Leste is facing problems in management and control of weapons, according to word spreading among communities in Timor-Leste that illegal weapons exist here. Furthermore, Timor-Leste purchased weapons in 2013 without detail process, and this represents a problem of its own.
1. FM recommends that the Ministry of Defense and Security perform a review of the policy used in distributing arms and security equipment to the Institution of Security and Defense of Timor-Leste.
2. Recommends and further adds to the recommendations of the Eventual Commission Investigation that the government needs to consider the circumstances of international policy and progress in this global era and demands that the government classify information regarding the developing the Defense and Security areas as confidential and hidden from neighboring and non-state actors.
3. Recommends that the Indonesian government and the elected Republic President, who will assume power for the next five years, review and fortify the control system for weapons at the armories of TNI and POLRI as well as those entrepreneurs that produce the weapons. This is recommended because people from these two countries are concerned, as neighbors, about the possibility of weapons being used by terrorists, civilian and other army groups as a result of this purchase of weapons.
For more details on this issue please see the following:
Executive Director of FM
Phone (+670) 77374222 or 77561184.