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Proposed New Indonesian Police Chief Defends ‘Closeness’ to Islamic Defenders Front
Anita Rachman | October 06, 2010
Indonesia’s controversial proposed new National Police chief Comr. Gen. Timur Pradopo, pictured, says the police should be close to all groups, including Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), to maintain security. (Antara Photo)
Jakarta. Indonesia’s proposed new National Police chief Comr. Gen. Timur Pradopo has defended his links to the radical Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).
Responding to questions from reporters at the House of Representatives (DPR) on Wednesday, the former Jakarta Police chief said “we should be close to all” groups, including the FPI.
The militant organization, which comprises a small but vocal group of radicals, often resorts to violence to further its conservative aims, including ransacking bars and attacking peaceful demonstrators. Allegations also persist that the group is closely linked to Indonesian security forces.
“We should be close to all [groups] to maintain security in this country,” Timur said.
The comments could provoke controversy, with many secular Indonesian Muslims opposed to the FPI’s antisecular views and ongoing criticisms against the police for failing to act against the hard-line group.
Timur met with five House leaders, including House Speaker Marzuki Alie, at 9 a.m.
Deputy House Speaker Priyo Budi Santoso told the press they wanted to discuss a number of items, including the fit-and-proper test that is expected to be held on Monday.
“We wanted an explanation, including what people at large have been talking about, that there are internal divisions within National Police, which he said there aren’t,” Priyo said. “This is a kind of warning from us: Don’t let the factions within the Police grow.”
Priyo was referring to allegations that police had split into camps supporting National Police Chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri’s two initial recommendations to the president, namely Comr. Gen. Nanan Soekarna, the police’s Internal Affairs head, and Comr. Gen. Imam Sudjarwo, the chief of the police’s Training and Education Division.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s surprise nomination of Timur, according to some speculation, was an attempt to head off divisions with National Police over the appointment.
Priyo said the House leaders also told Timur that he should continue to reform the police, which continues to be perceived as resistant to reform, with allegations of high-level corruption, human rights abuses and a lack of professionalism persisting.
Human rights activists on Tuesday urged the House to reject Timur’s nomination, saying he had a questionable track record, including his refusal to answer three summonses from the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas Ham) to clarify his involvement in the shooting of students in the Semanggi area of Jakarta in November 1998, when he was still active as chief of Central Jakarta Police.
Priyo said they did not specifically ask Timur about the Semanggi incidents but would do so.
“Our message to him, if he finally sits in the top position in the National Police, is if he wants to be successful he should never get tempted by politics, political practices,” Priyo said.