Don’t dabble in business, Abri officers warned again

INDONESIAN armed forces (Abri) chief General Feisal Tanjung has warned serving military officers and their spouses to stay out of business activities.

Less than a week after Defence Minister Edi Sudradjat issued a similar warning, Gen Tanjung said that Abri officers intending to engage in business had to seek his approval.

“All officers and their wives are barred from business. If they want to get involved in business, they must get written permission from me first,” he said in response to questions from legislators during a Parliamentary session on Monday.

Abri spokesman Brigadier-General Slamet Supriadi told The Straits Times on Monday that the ban would be applied across the board except for officers who were involved in running the military’s chain of co-operatives and independent foundations or yayasans.

“These groups are part of the military structure and have a legitimate right to take part in business activities,” he said. “They are looking after the welfare of armed forces personnel and society. So why bar them?”

Abri and the Defence and Security Department have co-operatives which run retail outlets and business enterprises to provide basic goods to members at low cost. Yayasans, on the other hand, support welfare or educational activities of Abri. They get their funding from a number of sources, including their own businesses, the defence budget and business community contributions.

The army headquarters’ yayasan, YKEP, is one of the biggest and best known of the foundations. In 1994, it was estimated to rank 138th among the top 200 conglomerates in Indonesia, with an annual turnover of 110 billion rupiahs (S$63 billion).

Its business interests include timber, electronics, construction, engineering, airlines, banking, golf courses, real estate and plantations.

Brig-Gen Supriadi said officers acting outside the yayasans or co-operatives would face sanctions. Last week, Gen Sudradjat had said these could include delayed promotions or even the sack.

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