Jokowi Criticized for Appointing Ex-Intelligence Chief as Adviser


By Jakarta Globe on 02:50 pm Aug 10, 2014

Category Featured, Human Rights, News, Politics

Tags: Indonesia human rights, Joko Widodo, Munir Said Thalib

President-Elect Joko Widodo, center, with members of his transition team, on Aug. 4, 2014. (Antara Photo/Widodo S. Jusuf)

President-Elect Joko Widodo, center, with members of his transition team, on Aug. 4, 2014. (Antara Photo/Widodo S. Jusuf)

[Updated at 10:15 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014]

Jakarta. President-Elect Joko Widodo has played down the impact of appointing former intelligence chief Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono as an adviser in the transition team that will prepare his power-transfer from outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, saying that Hendropriyono has never been proven guilty in court of law.

“There are no problems. I can’t screen everybody that comes to me. Should I ask him if he was involved in this or in that, or in that abduction? It’s not like that. This is a legal issue and should be made clear. [Hendropriyono] should explain that,” Joko said on Sunday.

Still, a leading human rights activist has raised concerns over the appointment of Hendropriyono, former chief of State Intelligence Agency (BIN) from 2001 to 2004, pointing to his possible involvement of human rights violation cases. Hendropriyono, who is known to be close to Megawati Soekarnoputri, the chairwoman of Joko’s party, was quoted by on Saturday as saying that he had been appointed to provide advice on intelligence matters.

“I was appointed as an adviser,” Hendropriyono said of his appointment on Saturday. “I will prepare myself to give advice on intelligence.”

The transition team was set up last week by Joko and is led by Rini M.S. Soewandi, a former minister of industry and trade, to help the incoming administration on budget matters and provide recommendations on cabinet appointments.

Hendropriyono’s involvement in the team prompted a warning from Haris Azhar, the coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, or Kontras, who pointed to the former intelligence chief’s role in a bloody military crackdown on civilians in Talangsari, Lampung, in 1989, as well as his alleged links to the murder of prominent rights activist Munir Said Thalib in 2004.

Hendropriyono was never charged over the death of Munir, who was poisoned on board a flight from Jakarta to Amsterdam, but his deputy at the BIN at the time, Muchdi Purwopranjono, was indicted and later acquitted in the case.

Haris urged Joko to eschew advisers with checkered rights records, but defense and intelligence analyst Ridwan Habib of the University of Indonesia said someone of Hendropriyono’s experience was a necessary element in Joko’s team.

“His experience and expertise can fill in Joko’s gap on intelligence matters,” he said on Sunday as quoted by

“Joko is cautious and smart when appointing people [to be in his team]. Hendropriyono’s appointment was not made with [Joko’s] eyes closed, but because he has the quality,” he added.

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