Kembali jatuhnya pesawat Fokker F-27 milik TNI AU pada tanggal 6 April 2009 lalu di Bandara Husein Sastranegara Bandung telah meninggalkan duka yang mendalam bagi masyarakat dirgantara Indonesia. Dua puluh empat nyawa prajurit lagi-lagi harus terbuang sia-sia.
Tragedi semacam ini sudah terjadi untuk yang kesekian kalinya dalam 10 tahun terakhir. Ada apa dengan TNI?
Sebuah tulisan menarik karangan Bang Nurkholis Ibnu Aman mencoba mengulas hal tersebut dari sudut pandang seorang masyarakat sipil yang peduli terhadap masalah pertahanan di tanah air. Berikut saya kopikan tulisannya yang dimuat di surat kabar The Jakarta Post edisi hari ini.
Guns, Butter and Democracy
Nurkholisoh Ibnu Aman, Surabaya | Fri, 04/17/2009 2:11 PM | Opinion
The recent crash of the Air Force Fokker-27 in Bandung has triggered yet another alarm to the authorities on the state of our military power. While many argue that the crash was caused by bad weather, one cannot deny the fact that most of our military equipment is in a worrying state. The ill-fated F-27 itself was manufactured in 1976, and was one of seven F-27s still in use by the military.
Once considered the strongest in Southeast Asia, the Indonesian Air Force is now suffering from aging war machines and underfunding. A number of military air accidents over the past few years have been linked to the un-airworthiness of our jet fighters. Anecdote has it that more soldiers are killed in accidents than in battle.
But a similar scenario is currently affecting the Army and Navy too, only they are less visible than problems in the Air Force. Accidents involving army tanks or navy ships are less likely to appear in newspapers headlines.
Currently, Indonesia invests less than 1 percent of its GDP on defense, less than our neighbors like Singapore (5 percent) or Malaysia (3 percent). This figure is even more pronounced when noting that Singapore and Malaysia actually have fewer islands and citizens to protect.
Our defense budget for 2009 is Rp 35.03 trillion (US$ 3 billion), a far cry from the ideal Rp 100 trillion the Defense Ministry requested. Things are getting worse too, given that the 2009 budget is less than what was allocated in 2008. With the bulk of its budget going to soldiers’ salaries, the modernization of military equipment is a luxury we cannot afford.
Since the Asian economic crisis of 1997, our financial resources have been devoted mainly to servicing a mountain of debts, and to funding various economic recovery programs. The armed forces (TNI) has had to accept their low priority in the national agenda.
The most the TNI has been able to do is increase its efficiency, but this situation has resulted in the deterioration of functioning equipment and the force’s combat readiness. Recent analysis estimates that only around 42 percent of our military aircraft are airworthy.
On the other hand, we have seen a tremendous increase in funding allocated toward developing democracy over the past few years. Vice President Jusuf Kalla himself has voiced concerns over the staggering cost of running a democracy in Indonesia. With our 465 municipalities and 33 provinces, Indonesia is conducting roughly 100 elections every year – or 1 election every 3 days. It is estimated that around Rp 50 trillion of the state budget is spent on these direct elections annually.
At this point, we need to remind our politicians that military power is essential to maintaining our country’s dignity. An increasing number of territorial disputes with neighboring countries is evidence hard to ignore. It is a sad truth that we are seen as powerless in defending our own territory.
To increase the defense budget is, however, not an easy task. Politicians are by nature more inclined to support popular programs such as education or health care. Through such programs, they hope to win public votes and thus ensure their re-election.
There is also a psychological thing about defense affairs. In the minds of most people, it is not seen as something imminent. The idea of us getting into a war seems distant and very slim. Some even argue that our defense budget is a waste of money.
The truth is that defense affairs have implications far beyond defending ourselves in times of war. A strong military power helps us to earn respect from other countries in international relationships and thus empowers our diplomatic muscle. It may also provide us with a “deterring effect” that we need to maintain peace.
As the old adage says si vis pacem para bellum, meaning that those who wish for peace must be prepared for war.
The writer is an activist at TANDEF, a non-profit organization that aims to promote defense awareness among Indonesians.
Tulisan di atas menjadi menarik karena dua hal:
1. Penulis bukan berasal dari kalangan militer
2. Penulis adalah seorang banker yang bekerja di Bank Indonesia
Analisis yang disampaikan kembali mengingatkan kita bahwa pertahanan seharusnya diletakkan dengan prioritas yang tinggi dalam sistem pemerintahan NKRI. Dalam situasi damai seperti saat ini, peningkatan anggaran pertahanan dan kekuatan militer negara dapat membantu meningkatkan wibawa diplomasi kita sebagai bangsa terbesar di kawasan Asia Tenggara.
Semoga ke depannya, pemerintah dapat semakin sadar akan pentingnya pertahanan bagi suatu negara. Dengan demikian, kecelakaan-kecelakaan yang timbul akibat kerusakan pada alutsista kita bisa diminimalisir.