The Generals at Trunojoyo
Different camps within the Police marred the selection of the next National Police chief. Commissioner Gen. Listyo Sigit needs to prove that he is not chosen only because of his closeness to President Joko Widodo.
BYPASSING several prospects who graduated from the Police Academy before he did, Comr. Gen. Listyo Sigit Prabowo was appointed as a candidate for the new National Police chief. This graduate of the Police Academy’s Class of 1991 will replace Gen. Idham Azis, from the Class of 1988A, who will retire on January 30.
Trimedya Panjaitan, a member of the House of Representatives (DPR) Legal Affairs Commission from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) Faction, said that Sigit must work with his seniors after officially taking over leadership of the national police. “He shouldn’t put friends from his graduating class first,” he said on Wednesday, January 13.
As National Police chief, according to Trimedya, one test for Sigit will be appointing the chiefs of regional police departments in the 34 provinces. He suggested that Sigit not to give too many of those positions to his fellow Class of 1991 graduates. This is to avoid the impression that his class was dominating the police force.
Trimedya said that seniority is still very important at Trunojoyo—a reference to National Police Headquarters. It is believed that some retired police officials still have some pull in police circles. He mentioned National Intelligence Agency (BIN) Chairman Budi Gunawan, Minister of Home Affairs Tito Karnavian, and former Deputy National Police Chief Syafruddin still have their own officers who they helped bring up and other followers. “They were in charge there for a long time. For sure they have their people there,” said Trimedya.
The existence of such camps in the police force has become apparent at the end of National Police Chief Gen. Idham Azis’ term of service approaches. In his speech during the commemoration of the Bhayangkara Day on July 1 last year, General Idham brought up the issue of solidity of his men. “I see that the police in Indonesia are strongly allied, like a time bomb,” said Idham. During that speech he mentioned the matter of competition over who would replace him.
The National Police Commission submitted the names of Comr. Gen. Gatot Eddy Pramono, Comr. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar, Comr. Gen. Agus Andrianto, Comr. Gen. Arief Sulistyanto, and Comr. Gen. Sigit to the President on January 6. Among those candidates, Sigit is the youngest and comes from the most junior graduating class.
However, of that bunch, Sigit is the closest to President Joko Widodo. The two have worked together since 2011. Sigit is considered as part of the “Solo Gang”, people who were close to Jokowi when he was Mayor of Solo in Central Java. That closeness is seen as Jokowi’s primary consideration in choosing Sigit.
Nasir Djamil, a member of the DPR’s Legal Affairs Commission from the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS), said that Sigit must prove that he was not chosen only on account of his closeness to the President. Sigit must prove himself through his achievements. One task Sigit will be facing, according to Nasir, is raising public trust in the National Police. This can be done, for instance, by improving how the police handle cases, which is often seen as often giving preferential treatment to certain people and groups, and only going after groups which are critical of the government. “Abuses and discriminative acts often take place in this area,” said Nasir.
Poengky Indarti, a commissioner at the National Police Commission, said that the selection of candidates for National Police chief took into account the representation of Police Academy graduating classes and would assure personnel regeneration in the National Police. “Being led by a senior or junior is not a problem in the National Police. It does not affect their solidity,” she said.
Poengky added that Sigit faces the challenge of continuing police reform. The public, according to her, often see the police committing violence, being arrogant, and living exorbitant lifestyles. “These sorts of things need to be redressed,” said Poengky.
Inspector Gen. Raden Prabowo Argo Yuwono, Chief of the National Police’s Public Relations Division, denied the news that there are camps of generals in the police force. “There are no factions inside the police. There is one solid institution which serves the people and nation,” said Argo.