Responding to the Sinking of the Nanggala Submarine: Urging a Full, Independent Check of TNI's Weapon System and Tools

Civil Society Coalition for Security Sector Reform

The sinking of the KRI Nanggala 402 submarine is a tragic event and concerns all of us. We should be sad and grieve over this incident. Indonesian National Soldier (TNI) soldiers died in the middle of the ongoing training process. In the midst of these concerns and sorrows, of course, these events need to be seen and assessed in a bigger picture of the problem of modernizing defense equipment that is happening in Indonesia.
This is not the first time that accidents from TNI's weapon system have occurred in Indonesia. Several accidents have occurred, starting from the downing of F-16 and Hawk fighter planes, Hercules transport planes, MI-17 helicopters, the sinking of a TNI transport ship, until yesterday we witnessed the sinking of the KRI Nanggala 402 submarine. Various factors can certainly cause this to happen. accidents ranging from human error factors, engine problems, natural factors and other factors.
However, one important thing that always goes unnoticed from every accident is the matter of the management and maintenance of the respective weapon system and usage. In fact, it is very possible that the chaotic problem of the management of the defense equipment system in Indonesia can increase the risk of various accidents. The dark management of the procurement, maintenance and repair of Indonesian defense equipment will eventually make TNI soldiers even more vulnerable to become victims, to the point of death.
We consider that the procurement of defense equipment as part of efforts to modernize and strengthen Indonesia's defense is indeed very important and necessary. However, these efforts must be carried out in a transparent and accountable manner. In practice, several cases of procurement of defense equipment so far not only deviate from the policy of developing a defense posture, but are also full of allegations of corruption.

In a number of procurements, for example, some of the defense equipment purchased are below standard and sometimes do not meet the needs. The purchase of used defense equipment is also a problem because it has a greater potential for problems, not only will it burden the budget for maintenance, but will also risk accidents that threaten the safety and security of soldiers.

We have assessed that the use of used and old defense equipment had been a factor that caused several accidents. The condition of the defense equipment that is below the readiness standard will increase the risk of an accident. Meanwhile, the process of maintenance that is carried out is a separate problem in the readiness of the defense equipment system. For example, in the case of the KRI Nanggala 402 submarine, the retrovit (overhaul) process carried out in South Korea certainly deserves to be questioned. Why was the overhaul option made in South Korea and not in Germany? In fact, this submarine was produced by the manufacturer Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft in Germany, not by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, South Korea. We urge the government and the DPR to evaluate and audit all processes of cooperation between the Indonesian government and South Korea, starting from submarines, warships, KFX/IFX (KF-21Boramae) fighter aircraft and others.

In addition, although the provisions regarding the procurement of defense equipment systems have required not to involve third parties (brokers) but to be carried out directly in a government to government mechanism or to the manufacturers of defense equipment systems, in reality a number of procurements are often marked by the involvement of third parties. In some cases, their involvement sometimes has implications for the alleged occurrence of mark-ups (corruption) in the procurement of defense equipment that is detrimental to state finances.

The issue of transparency and accountability in the procurement of defense equipment at the Ministry of Defense is indeed a serious problem. The absence of the role and authority of independent institutions such as the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) which also monitors and oversees the procurement of defense equipment makes the procurement process at the Ministry of Defense prone to irregularities or corruption. As a result, transparency and accountability in the procurement of defense equipment becomes problematic. In fact, the state budget (APBN) for the procurement of defense equipment in Indonesia uses very large funds.

We urge that in an effort to encourage transparency and accountability in the procurement of defense equipment, the government should also encourage the role of independent supervisory institutions, such as the KPK to supervise and investigate the use of the defense budget, or more specifically in the procurement of defense equipment. The KPK can be involved in monitoring and investigating alleged irregularities in the procurement of defense equipment on the basis of the lex specialis derogat lex generalis principle.

Modernization of defense equipment is a necessity, but strengthening of defense equipment must run in a transparent and accountable manner. For this purpose, the first step that needs to be taken is to immediately reform the military justice by revising Law 31 of 1997 concerning Military Courts. With this step, the certainty of transparency and accountability in modernizing the defense equipment system can really be realized. Without the reform of the military justice system, the modernization of the defense equipment system will always be overshadowed by allegations of corrupt practices.

We urge the defense ministry and the TNI to focus on doing defense planning. It is time for two important things that need to be done, namely modernizing the defense equipment system and increasing the professionalism of the soldiers by fulfilling the welfare of the soldiers (well paid), increasing training (well trained), improving education (well educated) and strengthening defense equipment (well equipped).

We urge that all programs in the defense ministry that do not strengthen their main components should be abolished, such as the plan to form reserve components, involve the military in the rice field printing program and other programs that are not relevant to the function of the TNI as a means of national defense. It is time for the TNI and the defense ministry to focus on strengthening its main components as a means of national defense.

Civil society coalition:

  1. Urges the President to form an independent team to conduct an independent audit of all defense equipment in Indonesia, especially the old defense equipment by involving academics and civil society.
  2. Urges the government not to use defense equipment that is 20 years old and over until the audit results are completed.
  3. Urges the government to evaluate all cooperation in the procurement of defense equipment so far, both those that occurred during the current government period or the previous government period.
  4. Urges the government to remove third parties (brokers) in the procurement of defense equipment, because they have a high risk of problems with the readiness of the defense equipment. The procurement of defense equipment should be carried out with a government to government mechanism.
  5. The modernization of the defense equipment system needs to strengthen the defense equipment system by prioritizing the purchase of new weapons systems and not used weapons systems.

Contact person:

Hussein Ahmad (Peneliti Imparsial) 081259668926

Adnan Topan Husodo (Direktur ICW) +62 812-3600-3034

Al Araf (Ketua Badan Pengurus Centra Initiative) +62 813-8169-4847

Usman Hamid (Amnesty International Indonesia) +62 811-812-149

Ikhsan Yosarie (Peneliti Setara Institute) +62 822-8638-9295

M Hafidz (Direktur HRWG) 081282958035

Julius Ibrani (PBHI) 081314969726

Centra Initiative, Imparsial, Elsam, LBH Pers, ICW, LBHM, LBH Jakarta, KontraS, ICJR, PILNET Indonesia, HRWG, Walhi Eknas, PBHI Amnesty Internasional Indonesia, Public Virtue, SETARA Institute

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