At least 12,000 members of Indonesia’s armed forces support radical Islamic ideology to some degree, according to the country’s defense minister. Revealing the results of a recent internal survey on June 19, defense minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said at least 3 percent, or 12,000 Indonesian military men admitted to being sympathetic to hard-line views on Islam.
The Indonesian armed forces have more than 400,000 active servicemen within their ranks. Ryacudu said the results of the survey came as a shock and posed a serious threat to the country’s secular ideology of Pancasila. Pancasila, or five principles, is the belief in only the one God and upholding humanity, unity, democracy, and social justice.
“This is a deeply disturbing revelation,” he told a gathering of retired and active military members in Jakarta. The minister did not reveal when the survey was conducted. But he said it was a very worrying issue that required cooperation. Not only from active but also from retired officers in addressing it.
“As senior military members, we should think together how to overcome and protect Indonesia from the danger of radicalism,” Ryacudu told the gathering. The former army chief of staff also called on those who admitted having sympathy with radical ideology to remain true to their soldier’s oath, which is to support the country’s constitution and Pancasila.
“We urge you to follow your soldier’s oath, to be loyal to the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, based on Pancasila as the state ideology,” he said.
Armed forces commander Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said he needed to takes a closer look at the results of the survey before deciding on what course of action to take.
Stanilaus Riyatna, an intelligence analyst from University of Indonesia, voiced concern at the defense minister’s revelation. He said given the size of the military, 3 percent was a huge number and a very serious threat to the country.
The Indonesian military should be seen as a solid institution that secures the country from any threats, including those against the state ideology, he said. “If the institution is infiltrated by radicalism, it will become a major threat,” Riyatna said.
It is important, particularly for the military, to cleanse itself of this threat. The internal survey also revealed that 19 percent of civil servants disagreed with national ideology. Earlier reports also revealed that a high number of university students also harbour hard-line views.