A Dilematic Problem for Indonesian Active and Ex-Soldiers

The housing dispute within the Indonesian National Armed Forces (TNI) is dilemmatic. On one side the TNI needs more houses for its soldiers, on the other the humanity aspect for retired soldiers can't be sacrificed.

from last Wednesday till Sunday on a number of state housing complexes or TNI's housing facilities which are in dispute between the armed forces and the residents, show that the main problem comes down ownership rights disputes due to different interpretations of the law.

Brig. Gen. (Ret) Soemarto, the secretary general of the Communications Forum of the State Housing Residents (FKPPN), who lives in a TNI housing complex in Sumur Batu, Central Jakarta, tried to explain the problem as follows. He believes, that one of the regulation that hasn't been properly applied is the Presidential Decree No. 11/2008 regarding the procurement, settlement status, settlement status conversion, and rights conversion for state housing, dated February 26, 2008. In Chapter 1 articles 2, 3, and 4 of the rule there are three types of housing.

Type I is for officers of certain positions and the house is only available during his service. Type II are bound to a certain institution and can only be used while serving the state and once the person has quit or retired then it has to be returned to the state. Type III is the kind that can be sold to the resident.

In Chapter 8 or the Presidential Rule there is mention of the possibility to convert a house's status from type II to type III by prior proposal. "So far no conversion process has been noticed," said Soemarto.

And then there was the telegram letter from the minister of defense No. ST/17/2008, which was signed by the Maj. Gen. Suryadi, director general of the defense force, on July 28, 2008. The letter mentioned that the Department of Defense and the TNI have not planned status conversion for state housing from type II to type III.

To deal with this issue, the Deputy Minister of Defense, Sjafrie SYamsoeddin, last week emphasized that the state housing in the Department of Defense and the TNI are in type I and II, but there's no type III.

A similar problem is emerging at the Berland complex, Matraman, Central Jakarta; Bulak Rantai complex in Kampung Tengah, Kramat Jati, East Jakarta; the ex-packhorse -transport batallion complex in Cililitan Besar, East Jakarta; TNI Infantry complex on Otista III street, Cipinang Cempedak, Jatinegara, East Jakarta; and the TNI Infantry Strategic Reserve Command on Arteri Pondok Indah street, Kebayoran Lama, South Jakarta.

Beyond Jakarta, problems are emerging at the TNI Navy V HQ housing complex in Surabaya. In January 2010 the residents received flyers of warning by the State Housing Security Team of the TNI Navy V HQ. Therefore, the people who've occupied the housing complex for decades, especially the residents of seven houses, have become worried and restless.

The people have filed a complaint to the Surabaya State Court as an attempt to keep their homes. "So now it's still in litigation process, all parties should respect the situation until there is strong legal binding," said Fahmi Bachmid, the legal representative of the people, Sunday, Surabaya.

In Makassar, South Sulawesi, the PR of the Military Area Command (Kodam) VII/Wirabuana, Maj. (Inf.) Rustam Effendi, stated that the number of state-owned houses in Kodam VII/Wirabuana is 6,497 units. In 2006, the number of houses there which were occupied by retired soldiers or people who aren't soldiers is 788 houses. Some of them were occupied by children of retired soldiers, or even just regular civilians. "Up to September 15, 2008, we're set 374 in order so now they're really occupied by rightful TNI soldiers."

Rustam explained that according to the telegram letter by the Army's head of staff No. ST/1460/2006, dated November 2, 2006, a retired soldier without a house of his own can occupy a state-owned house until he and his wife are deceased. "So, we only disciplined the houses which were occupied by the children of retired soldiers or by civilians."

The House forms a working committee

Deputy chief of Commission I of the House, Tubagus Hasanuddin, from PDI-P fraction, stated on Sunday that the dispute over TNI housing is due to the shortage of houses owned by the TNI. "On the other hand, evicting the people who've lived there for decades isn't wise either," said the former military secretary during former President Megawati Soekarnoputri's administration.

Sjafrie last week stated that the number of state-owned houses in the areas owned by the Department of Defense and the TNI is 198,170 units, so there's a shortage of 159,704 units. "The state (government) must intervene." Tubagus also commented that all parties should respect each other and stay within legal corridors.

Currently, he claimed that there is already a housing working committee who are taking in all the opinions of the residents of the state-owned houses. Next, around mid-February, there will be a hearing with the TNI Commander and the Department of Defense.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, before all the soldiers of Strategic Reserve Command in Cilodong, Depok, West Java, stated on Sunday that the Government will continue to improve the welfare and provision for the TNI according to the state's ability and budget. "Not only that, but also the state-owned houses."