Jakarta (Antara News) - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, early this year, announced a plan to name a successor to the then-retiring police chief General Timur Pradopo prior to the general elections in 2014.
As Timur Pradopo was about to reach retirement age, his successor was to be named as soon as possible to give him ample time in his new post as national police chief since he would quickly be responsible for securing the general elections in 2014, the president said.
On September 27, 2013 the president submitted to the House of Representatives (DPR) the name of Commissioner General Sutarman, who is the chief of the Police's Criminal Investigation Division (Bareskrim), as the sole candidate for the post.
After a process of fit and proper testing, Sutarman was approved by the House of Representatives` Commission III to become the new Police chief on October 17. On October 25, Yudhoyono swore in Sutarman as the new Indonesian National Police (Polri) chief.
Indonesia will hold its third democratic elections since political reforms were put in place in 1998. The two previous direct elections had taken place peacefully. Next year, legislative elections will be held on April 9, after a campaign period lasting from January 11 to April 5, 2014, while the presidential election is expected to be held on July 9.
The general elections will be organized by Indonesia`s General Elections Commission (KPU) with the cooperation of institutions such as the General Elections Supervisory Body Bawaslu), the National Police, and the Government Goods and Service Procurement Policy Agency (LKPP).
Following his inauguration, Sutarman promised that the police would remain neutral in the general elections next year and ensure the elections are conducted in a safe and secure manner.
"The police will keep a careful watch over the stages of the elections, from the printing of the ballots to their distribution to voting centers, and will work to the fullest," he said.
Sutarman said he will begin his term as chief by making police officers available whenever people call for them, and improve cooperation with the public to create a safe and orderly environment during elections. "Without security, elections will not go well," he stated.
"The police must be neutral in the elections. We will remain on our guard all through the stages of the elections, including the presidential election, so people can comfortably cast their ballots to choose the best legislative candidates to represent them," Sutarman stated.
Commissioner General Sutarman was the adjutant to the late, former president Abdurrahman Wahid. He also had been West Java Police chief and was appointed Jakarta Police chief in October 2010, replacing Timur Pradopo. Born in Sukoharjo, Central Java, on October 5, 1957, Sutarman started his current post as the police chief detective in July 2011.
When officially handing over his post to Sutarman on October 29, Timur Pradopo confirmed that the main task of the new police chief would be securing next year`s general elections. "Securing and carrying out the 2014 general elections successfully (would be his main task)," said Pradopo, who will retire in January 2014.
General Timur Pradopo noted earlier that all threats to prevent the elections from being conducted without incidents have already been anticipated. "I think they have been foreseen," he said, adding that such threats could include bombings and social conflicts.
He has called on the public to assist the police in ensuring that the next general elections run smoothly. "This is, indeed, the responsibility of the police, but we hope the people will also help to eliminate threats," the former police chief added.
During the handing over ceremony, Sutarman once again expressed his readiness to guard the election process, saying "The general elections must be guarded to assure they run peacefully, fairly and honestly."
He statedd that securing the elections would be his priority, adding that the police would be one of the parties directly involved in the process, from the beginning to the end.
"The police and other security agencies will work together to secure the entire process of the elections and I have given an order that all police officers must remain neutral in connection with the elections," he said.
Sutarman said he would start his elections security program by fielding personnel throughout the community to assure security, order and prevent possible conflicts.
Some 20 thousand police officers will be deployed to guard during parliamentary elections in April next year, according to Commissioner General Badrodin Haiti, the head of Security and Security Maintenance
at the National Police Headquarters.
He confirmed that measures have also been adopted to identify areas that are vulnerable to conflicts. "Some areas have been identified, based on our previous experience," he explained, without giving names of these areas.
Also, based upon past experiences, the police are anticipating other relatively minor conflicts that emerged due to problems concerning the list of voters, impartiality issues, and black campaigns.
In addition to securing the upcoming general elections, there are a number of very large challenges facing the National Police that the new chief must deal with.
The main challenges include arresting perpetrators of unsolved fatal shootings that killed at least four police officers and injured several others in Jakarta and Banten, as well as improve the image of the national police.
Sutarman said recently that the Indonesian police have arrested eight terror suspects in connection with the fatal shootings of several police officers. The eight detainees, however, were not the masterminds of the fatal
shootings, but they had contributed to the crimes by providing funding, weapons, vehicles, and so on, he said, adding that the police are still chasing the masterminds.
Regarding the police force's image, Budi Wisaksono, the chairman of Police Study Center of Semarang-based state Diponegoro University, said the appointment of the new police chief could provide a good opportunity for the police to improve itself and allow the public to again trust it.
So far, the police have often been a target for complaints by the public as reported, among others, by the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) and the Indonesian Ombudsman.
Komnas HAM claimed that as of October 2013, it had received 2,000 complaints regarding land problems, disputes between people and the military, and people and the police.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian Ombudsman reported that the second most frequent complaints received from the public are against the country`s police.
"Police have always been second among the institutions complained about most by the public," Ombudsman member Budi Santoso said recently.
In 2012, the Ombudsman received 2,209 reports from the public, with 383 dealing with poor public services provided by the police, he said. Also, in the first nine months of 2013, there were 129 complaints received from the public about police services, he said.
"The frequency of the reports shows the police still need to improve its public services," he said.
Further, harsh criticism recently came from Deputy of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Adnan Pandu Praja, who said the police were the most corrupt institution in the country, followed by the Parliament.
The police, however, denied that there was any truth in the KPK official`s statement.
Police Chief Sutarman recently pledged he would strengthen the coordination between the police and KPK in the fight against corruption. "We, alone, could not eradicate corruption. There should be cooperation with KPK in fighting corruption," he said.
Another assignment for the new police chief was voiced by Indonesian Police Watch (IPW) regarding the need to appoint a new head of the Police Criminal Investigation Division (Bareskrim).
"The position of head of Bareskrim has been vacant since last week, following the promotion of the previous Bareskrim head (Commissioner General Sutarman) as the new National Police chief," IPW Presidium Chairman Neta S Pane said in a statement.
He mentioned five strong possible nominees for the post, namely Chief of the West Java Provincial Police Inspector General Suhardi Alius, Head of the Police Maintenance and Security Department Commissioner General Badrodin Haiti, Deputy Head of Bareskrim Inspector General Anas Yusuf, Head of the Bali Provincial Police Inspector General Arief Wahyunadi, and Head of the Police Human Relations Department Inspector General Ronny F Sompie.
"Five of them are experienced in the criminal investigation field," he said, adding that they, however, should undergo fit and proper tests for the promotion. ***2***