Sapta Marga: the Indonesian Armed Forces Code of Conduct and Its Implementation in the Post New Order Era

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imamedy's picture
By: Colonel Imam Edy Mulyono & Lieutenant Colonel Eri Radityawara Hidayat

"Remember ! Our soldiers are not mercenaries,
nor soldiers who can easily digress.
We join the military because of our own free will,
and we stand ready to give the ultimate sacrifice,
for the nation and the state.
General Surdirman- Commander-in-Chief
Armed Forces Day, October 5, 1945, Yogyakarta.


Most writings about military ethics dwell on the question of how should a soldier fight a war ? For example, should a soldier always obey a direct military order in combat, even though he or she knew that the order contravene military laws such as the Geneva and the Hague Conventions? However, since one can find plentiful writings about ethical dilemmas in combat situation, this chapter attempted to discuss military ethics from another angle. Basically, we would like to share a distinctively Indonesian experience, by trying to find the answer to the following ethical dilemma: What should the leadership of an armed forces do, when they received a direct order that contradicted the country's constitution, and was asked to become a military ruler?

In the case of the Indonesian Armed Forces or the Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI) and the Indonesian Army or the Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Darat (TNI AD), there were lots of suspicions both at home and abroad, that the military reform of 1998 was only a lip service, disguised as a tool to soften the criticism, so that eventually the TNI can return to the authoritarian era of the New Order government when the time and situation permited them to do so. There were two very significant events related to military ethical dilemmas during the transition era from the authoritarian New Order government, to the democratic Reformation government. The first one was the decision by the TNI Commander, General Wiranto, of not using the extraordinary power given by President Soeharto to became a military ruler. The second one was the sophisticated message sent by the Army high command, that was intended to avert President Abdurrahman Wahid from issuing a presidential decree to dissolve the parliament, declare a state of emergency, and then using the military and police forces to neutralize his political opponents.

This chapter will attempt to explain the concept of military ethics from the perspective of the TNI, and it's application during the critical event in the early post New Order era, that presented an ethical dillema for the TNI leadership.


The word ethics, which has its origin from the Greek word ethikos, and was later translated by the Romans into the Latin word, morale, concerns with the moral choices that an individual must make; in other words, a moral philosophical question about what a person should do when confronted with a moral dilemma. [1] It was Socrates (371), the classical Greek philosopher, who argued that the most important question people should strive to answer, is not the scientific understanding of nature, but the quest for true happiness through knowing the ethical principles of life. [2] Modern philosophical discourses on ethics can be traced back to the treatise Ethica (1677), a magnum opus by the Dutch-Jewish philosopher Baruch Spinoza, who in not a very different fashion from Socrates, attempted to demonstrate that the way to human happiness in a deterministic world, can only be achieved through living the ethical life. [3] Later on, the German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1795) in his philosophical essay, wrote that "In an objective sense, morals is a practical science, as the sum of laws exacting unconditional obedience, in accordance with which we ought to act." [4] Therefore, according to this Kantian view, societies needed a practical moral code that can guide its members on what can and cannot be done, which must be followed by its members.

However, it was the French sociologist Emile Durkheim, the father of modern social science, who at the end of the 19th century, first talked about the need for a system of professional codes as a way to provide moral restraint in a complex society characterized by a modern economy. [5] Durkheim stated that every profession should establish some sort of moral rules based on the profession's ethical principles, so that whenever a member of the professions experienced contradictory moral choice, he or she can always refer to the value system of the profession. This is in line with the view that professionals have traditionally been viewed as acting in the spirit of public service. [6]

The modern military can certainly be considered as a profession. In his famous book, "The Soldier and the State", Samuel Huntington (1960), stated that it is military professionalism, especially the profession of the officer's corps, that distinguishes the modern military officer from the ancient warrior and it's civilian counterparts.[7] According to Huntington, the distinctive feature of this professionalism is the competencies related to the "management of violence," in which an officer has a responsibility to organize, equip and train his soldiers, plan it activities and direct its operations in and out of combat.

Therefore, Huntington argued that an officer must follow a strict code of conduct that will guide his behaviors toward his fellow soldiers, especially his subordinate who must obey him, toward the state which he serves, and to the society which approved the use of his competencies for the good of the people. Since officers are trusted by society to lead soldiers who will use lethal power in order to "manage the violence", it is inevitable that there will be officers who abuse their powers in order to achieve personal ends, and history showed us that indeed this has always happen in every major conflict and battleground known to men. Therefore, the perennial military ethical question that one can always ask is, "Should a soldier ever disobey a direct military order?"

Huntington elaborated this dilemma further, when he contrasted military obedience versus professional competence, and military obedience versus non-military values.[8] According to him, the conflict between military obedience and professional competence pertain to the relation of a military subordinate to a military superior in relation to various issues, from operational to doctrinal aspects. While the former concerns with the implementation of a military order from a superior officer which according to the judgement of the subordinate will result in a military disaster, the later can take the form a demand by a superior officer for a rigid and inflexible obedience to established tactics and technology, so that the subordinate might considered it to be dangerous routine that will stiffle military progress. On the other hand, Huntington suggested that the conflict between military obedience versus non military values, happened when an officer is ordered by a civilian authority to support a cause which he knows will lead to national disaster or which he believed will violate the law of the land.

This chapter will try to address the military ethical dilemmas presented by Huntington, especially in relation to the conflict between military obedience versus non military values in the Indonesian context. Therefore it is imperative that the discussion touch upon the TNI's Code of Conduct.


The 220 million people who live in the South East Asian archipelago called Indonesia come from more than 17,000 islands, have descended from approximately 300 native ethnic groups and races, worship a variety of religions and speak approximately 700 distinguishable dialects.[9] Historically, Indonesia was very much influenced by Indic culture, in which the Srivijaya, Hindu Buddhist naval kingdom was established in the island of Sumatra, while the agricultural Buddhist Syailendra and the Hindu Mataram dynasties were established in the island of Java in the 7th century.[10] Indonesia's past glory reached it's zenith when the Hindu kingdom Majapahit was established in 13th century and covered much of
modern day Indonesia, including Siam (Thailand), the Philippines, Indochina, Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia.[11] Later on, Islam came to Indonesia through peaceful means brought by Indian and Chinese traders, and then became the dominant religion in Sumatra and Java by the 16th century, mostly mixed with existing cultural and religious influences from the Hindu Buddhist tradition.[12] At about the same time, the Dutch, and to a lesser extent the Portuguese, arrived, seeking to monopolize nutmeg, cloves and pepper in the Moluccas and brought Western cultural influences with them, eventually became the colonizer of modern day Indonesia for another 300 years.[13] In 1942, Japan invaded Indonesia, driving out the Dutch occupational forces, until Sukarno declared independence in the 17th of August 1945, and soon after, the War of Independence broke out for about four years, when Dutch forces came with allied troops, trying to reclaim their tropical colony.[14]

Although there were occasional conflicts, on the whole, the different social groups that formed modern day Indonesia live side by side harmoniously. While many people take this for granted, the country's dynamics are actually a recipe for disaster. Consider the fact that not only Indonesia is the fourth largest country in the world in terms of population, it also has the most Muslims, much more than even the many officially Islamic Middle Eastern countries combined.[15] Yet at the same time, it has more Christians (Protestants and Roman Catholics) than the entire population of both "Christian" Australia and New Zealand[16]; there are more than three times Hindus in the island of Bali than all of the Hindus in Sri Lanka who are yearning for Tamil Elam[17]; the Indonesian part of the island of Borneo alone, is more than two times bigger than the British isles, whose people once ruled the waves[18]; far more people in Indonesia have mother tongues other than Indonesian than all of the inhabitants of Belgium, which until today still has conflicts between the Flemish and the French speaking peoples[19];
and there are more Indonesian of Chinese descent than the whole population of Singapore, the overseas Chinese bastion of South East Asia.[20] No wonder that Colin Brown (2003) said Indonesia is "an unlikely nation", while Adam Schwarz (2000) said Indonesia is a "nation in waiting."[21] It is imperative therefore to ask the existential question : "What is the glue that could hold this very diverse archipelagic nation together for so long, and prevented it from falling apart ?"

The Five Principles

Basically, the foundation of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia is the state ideology called the "Five Principles" orPancasila, which is represented in the national Coat of Arms that can be seen in the following figure.

Figure 1: The Indonesian Coat of Arms

The Garuda bird, a mythical golden eagle, is common to both Hindu and Buddhist mythology as the vehicle of Vishnu, and symbolizes the preservation of cosmic order; while the shield represents the Pancasila ideology; in which the star represents the "Belief in one God", the chain represents "A just and civilized humanity", the Banyan tree represents the "Unity of Indonesia, the Javanese wild bull represents "Democracy by consensus" and the paddy and cotton represents "Social justice for all Indonesians."[22] The scroll bears the national motto of Indonesia “Bhinneka Tunggal Ika”, or "Unity in diversity," while the number of feathers represents the 17-8-1945 constitution, which defined the nation and how it is governed.[23]

With Pancasila as state ideology, all the religious groupings in Indonesia are accommodated in the first principle which acknowledge the existence of a Supreme Being and reflected the religious nature of Indonesians, but without referring or favoring any one religion. At the same time, the third principle recognize the fact that Indonesia is a multi-ethnic, multi-religion, multi-racial, multi-culture, multi-lingual state, hence the national motto Bhinneka Tunggal Ika. The fourth principle, acknowledge the collective nature of Indonesian society, so that unlike in the individualistic Western liberal democracies, in the Indonesian democratic system, consensus is preferable than voting. However, this does not mean that voting is not allowed in the decision making process, but it should only be considered as a last resort, after all avenues to accommodate the different views have been exhausted.

It is the genius of the founding father of Indonesia, that with Pancasila as the the state ideology, Indonesian society has "a balanced, well-matched harmonious set of principles very much in keeping with the high value ascribed in the Indonesian culture to balance, harmony and unity," so much so that every social, racial and religious grouping can relate to it, and feel that they live in the same house called Indonesia.[24] Although often dismissed by Westerners as a collection of "motherhood statements", and despite the fact that from time to time, communal, ethnic and religious conflicts did happen, the national consensus generally hold and Pancasila was able to represent a grand political compromise that recognises the religious nature of the majority of Indonesians, yet could provide a modern non-partisan ideological basis for Indonesia’s plural society.[25] Not surprisingly, Pancasila has became one of the cornerstone of the TNI's Code of Conduct.

The Core Identity of the TNI

The other foundation of TNI's Code of Conduct is what is known as the Core Identity (Jati Diri) of the TNI. As a direct descendant of the various militias that fought the Japanese and Dutch occupying forces during Indonesia’s struggle for independence, the TNI was not formed by the government. In fact, it was initiated by the people who wanted to liberate themselves from colonial powers.[26] The heroism and sacrifice of the people at that time to achieve a common goal, eventually resulted in the formulation of Jati Diri of the TNI.[27] First, the TNI is the people’s armed forces (Tentara Rakyat), meaning that unlike Western armed forces, the TNI is not a distinct entity, but very much part of the society that it serves. Second, the TNI is a patriotic armed forces (Tentara Pejuang), an armed forces that will keep the spirit of the struggle for independence and will never surrender to the enemy or to any adverse circumstances that it encountered. Third, the TNI is a national armed forces (Tentara Nasional), which belongs to all of the ethnic, racial and religious groups that formed Indonesia. After the enactment of the TNI's Bill of Law in 2004, however, the TNI accepted another identity as a professional armed forces (Tentara Profesional), reflecting the demand of a modern society.[28]

The Seven Pledges and the Soldier's Oath of the TNI

The Seven Pledges of the TNI or Saptamarga as it is known in Indonesia, was officially proclaimed on October the 5th 1951, during Indonesia's Armed Forces Day, by the Chief of Staff of the TNI, as a Code of Conduct for Indonesian soldiers.[29] The pledges of the Sapta Marga are : (1) We are citizens of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, which is based upon Pancasila; (2) We are Indonesian patriots, supporter and defenders of the ideology of the state, who are responsible and will never surrender; (3) We are knights of Indonesia, who worship one God, and defend honesty, the truth and justice; (4) We are soldiers of the TNI, guardian of the Indonesian state and nation; (5) We are soldiers of the TNI, will uphold discipline, loyal to the leadership and safeguard military honor; (6) We are soldiers of the TNI, emphasizing knightliness in duty, and are always ready to dedicate ourselves to the state and the nation; (7) We are soldiers of the TNI, faithful and committed to the Soldier's Oath.[30]

The Soldier's Oath itself, is as follows : In the name of God, I swear that : (1) I will be faithful to the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia which is based on Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution; (2) I will abide by the law of the land and uphold military discipline; (3) I will be loyal to my superior officer, without disobeying order or decisions; (4) I will carry out my duties with a full sense of responsibility to the TNI and the Republic of Indonesia; (5) I will keep firmly all military secrets.[31]

The first three pledges of Saptamarga, reflected the core identity of the TNI as a people's armed forces, a national armed forces and a patriotic armed forces, and the fact that TNI soldiers are also citizen of a country that is based on Pancasila and it's principles. The other four pledges reflect the fact that apart from a professional forces which is responsible for the country's defence, the TNI is the defender of Pancasila, who will support the government of the day that is also loyal to the state ideology and the 1945 Constitution. Therefore, the question to be asked is what happened when the TNI is ordered to do something that it deemed is contrary to Pancasila as the state ideology and the 1945 constitution ?

Saptamarga as a Code of Conduct for the Indonesian military, was not born in a vacuum. After the War of Independence, from 1950 onwards, Indonesia’s civilian government was progressively weakened by ideological sentiments.[32] The political climate was so unstable that not only approximately 100 different political parties emerged with the average cabinets lasting for only 15 months each, but the worst thing for the TNI was that political parties made efforts to recruit soldiers into their ranks.[33] The growth of the communist party, regional separatists threats to the integrity of the state, especially the South Moluccan Republic (Republik Maluku Selatan), attempts to form a theocracy through the formation of armed Islamic groups such as the Darul Islam, and the military disgust at the failure of liberal, Western style parliamentary democracy, reinforced the perceptions in the officer's corps that the TNI is the only genuine "national" institution, who will defend the Pancasila state as a non-communist, non-secular, non-theological, non-liberal Western style democracy, unitary state.[34]

Against this background, the Joint Chief of Staffs established a committee headed by Colonel R. Djoko Bambang Supeno, to formulate some sort of pledges for the Indonesian soldiers.[35] At that time, Colonel Supeno was Second In Command of the TNI AD.[36] With Saptamarga, the TNI reaffirmed it's role as the defender of Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution, pledged its commitment to maintain the integrity of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia as a Pancasila state, and promised not to surrender to any forces that might try to change it.[37] With Saptamarga, TNI officers and enlisted soldiers have a Code of Conduct that no only reflected the core identity of the TNI and thePancasila ideology, but also provided them with guidelines on how to behave as Indonesian citizens, fighters and soldiers, who have a sacred duties to maintain national security and create a prosperous society based on Pancasila and the 1945 Constitution.

The Eight Military Obligations

Apart from Sapta Marga and the Soldier's Oath, there is another Code of Conduct for Indonesian soldiers, which provided a general guideline on how a soldier should behave towards the civilian. It is called the Eight Military Obligations, and its contents are as follows : (1) Be friendly and courteous to the people; (2) Be polite to the people; (3) Treat women with respect; (4) Maintain honor and dignity in front of the public; (5) Be a role model in behavior and humility; (6) Never take advantage of the people; (7) Never intimidate and hurt the people's hearts and minds; (8) Take the lead in attempting to solve the people's problem in the surrounding area. These obligations are basically derived from the TNI's Jati Diri as a people' Armed Forces.


Actually, the first military ethical dilemma faced by the TNI leadership occured when the Dutch occupational forces attacked the fledging republican armed forces in Yogyakarta on the 19th of December 1948 with superior forces and firearms.[38] President Sukarno, decided to wait in the Jogyakarta presidential palace and intended to solve the conflict diplomatically. However for the TNI leadership this action is the same as surrendering to the Dutch. General Sudirman as the TNI commander, reported to the president that he disagree with the president's decision, and instead asked his permission to continue the struggle as a leader of a guerilla army. He believed that the main task of the TNI was to defend the country. Sudirman did not deny the position of the armed forces as a tool of the government, but at the same time, the military also felt itself to be a freedom fighter just like many other groups outside the formal forces.[39] This experience became the embryo for the values that were embedded in the TNI's code of conduct.

The most significant military ethical dilemma in the contemporary history of the TNI occured when the Asian financial crisis, started in the middle of 1997. This event was caused by the massive devaluation of Thai Baht, and it's impact was devastating for the rest of Asia.[40]
For Indonesia, the crisis not only touched the monetary sector, but became a full blown multi dimentional crisis, that finally lead to the downfall of President Suharto and the "New Order" regime, which has ruled Indonesia for more than three decades.[41] During the tumultuous period prior to the resignation of President Suharto on the 21st of May 1998, General Wiranto, the TNI Commander, received Presidential Instruction No 16. dated May 18th 1998, which designated him as the Commander of the National Restoration for Stability and Order Command (Komando Operasi Pemulihan Keamanan dan Ketertiban Nasional - KOPKKN), with General Subagyo, the Chief of Staff of the TNI AD as the Vice Commander.[42]

This Presidential Instruction, would have provided General Wiranto with extraordinary and sweeping powers to become the de jure andde facto military ruler of Indonesia with control over intelligence agencies, commando units and conventional forces, plus the territorial commands, and more legal and operational authority than an armed forces commander would have. Yet, not only General Wiranto chose not to use this power, General Subagyo declined this offer as well.[43] In fact General Wiranto considered the decisions that he made was a "true test of loyalty to the nation ...... the mandate was passed on to me. I could have pressed the government (at that time) to impose an 'SOB' (Staat van Oorlog en Beleg or state of war and siege), to declare a state of emergency and take over power ... that would have been the easiest way....... We could have taken over....... I myself could have done that...."[44]

One of the most important reason that the TNI chose not to seize power was because first and foremost, as stated by General Wiranto, the Indonesian military officers were loyal to the state. ...."We are loyal to the system, not to individuals. If we were faithful to Soeharto it was because at that time he was a true, legal and constitutional president. The same thing goes for Habibie. Well ... the person (holding the presidency) may change but the TNI's loyalty to the constitution is consistent." He also added that another reason for not taking power was the belief that using the presidential instruction to gain power and then suppress the wishes of the Indonesian people would shed blood on the street.[45]

As argued by O Rourke, General Wiranto fully realized that even though he could have easily seized power at that time, securing power without constitutional legitimacy was meaningless.[46] In fact, although the military had pressured presidents in the past, there was no precedent in Indonesia for an outright military coup. Unlike many other developing countries, in the past, the TNI did not enter into politics by way of coup d'état but in an orderly and legal fashion.[47] Presumably, even if the commander of the TNI chooses to do so, there would be no guarantee that the officer corps would be willing to follow suit.[48]

When describing the New Order government, John Hasseman, an expert on the TNI asserted that, “Indonesia can be said to have a government with a powerful military, but not a military government”.[49] In fact, it can be said that the issue has been more centered on civilian politicians and the government of the day who were tempted at times to seek support from the military to further their own political agenda.[50] No wonder than that General Wiranto prefered to consult with consitutional lawyers on the legality of his action, rather than rushing to take over the president's job.[51] And, according to General Wiranto, Admiral Joseph Prueher, USPACOM Commander, praised him for his willingnes to support the transfer of power in accordance with the Indonesian constitution, considering that initially many people doubted his intention to do so.[52]

If we look at the seven pledges of Saptamarga, General Wiranto's action is actually consistent with the fourth pledge which stated that he should become the guardian of the Indonesian state and nation. Certainly he has an ethical dillema, because as an officer he was supposed to follow the order of the President as the Commander in Chief, as stated in the fith pledge of Saptamarga and the Soldier' Oath. But as a senior military leader he knew that if he obeyed the president's order, his action will lead to national disasters such as constitutional crisis and public resistance which eventually will cause bloodshed. Some experts suggested that the TNI should abandon its traditional ethos such as loyalty to Sapta Marga, Pancasila, and the 1945 Constitution, and instead reorient it's loyalty to the government of the day, so that it can fully disengage from politics.[53] However, this dilemma was exactly what Hutington have mentioned earlier in the previous paragraph. From this point of view it can be argued that the the TNI's leadership at that time could be categorized as professional soldier rather than a praetorian one.

General Ryamizard Ryacudu and the Presidential Decree

On a Saturday morning, 19th of May 2001, seventy panzers, thirty tanks and a thousand combat ready soldiers were assembled at the HQ of the TNI AD's Strategic Command (Komando Cadangan Strategis Angkatan Darat – KOSTRAD), which is the most prominent Army's Command, near the presidential palace, to attend a loyalty pledge ceremony led by its commander, Lieutenant General Ryamizard Ryacudu.[54] It was widely known that President Abdurrahman Wahid planned to annouce on the 25th of May 2010, a Presidential Decree to declare a state of emergency, dissolved the parliament,and replaced the leadership of the TNI.[55]

During the ceremony, issues were spreaded that the TNI would not support the implementation of the decree, and as a consequence was accused in the media of trying to stage a coup and play a political role. The TNI AD Vice Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Kiki Syahnakri countered this issue, by declaring that at least 95 % of TNI's soldiers were not interested in politics and only wanted to improve their professionalism. The TNI AD Chief of Staff, General Endriartono Sutarto then conveyed to the press that under any circumstances, the TNI would not take over power, because the TNI will always be on the side of the people.[56] In fact the the military countered the speculations, by declaring that they are still loyal to the President of the Republic of Indonesia, as long as the President is still upholding the 1945 Constitution, because it is the TNI's highest mandate.[57] Anyhow, the presence of the military forces so close to the palace was interpreted as TNI's rejection for the planned decree.

It was unfortunate that President Abdurrahman Wahid, the champion of human rights and democracy, at the last days of his presidency, resorted to authoritarianism, and by declaring a state of emergency, threatened to use the security forces to execute his orders and muzzled his opponents.[58] Yet, President Wahid's intention to use force provide the TNI with an opportunity to prove that the TNI was already transformed from a force that could be used as an instrument of power during the New Order era, into a democratically aware and responsible armed forces. It was consistent with TNI’s New Paradigm of neutrality and non-involvement in day-to-day partisan politics.[59]

In this case, the subtle conflict between the military and it's political superior, showed that when the TNI leadership must choose between following a sheer political folly by the civilian leadership or upholding the TNI's Code of Conduct, they consistenly choose their military values. The TNI maintained its position as the protector of the democratic process that was mandated by the 1945 Constitution and the Pancasila state ideology, because it believed members of parliament were democratically elected by the people. That's why for the TNI leadership, it would be illegal and inconstitutional to dissolve the parliament, even though at that time, the parliament was planning to impeach the president.

The solidity of the military which can seen from the refusal of senior military figures to be appointed as the post of TNI commander as long as they support the decree, such as Lieutenant General Johny Josephus Lumintang and Lieutenant General Djaja Suparman, confirmed their loyalty to the TNI's Code of Conduct. Cynics might questioned why the military chose not to support President Wahid, yet they essentially became the protector of President Suharto during the New Order era, supporting all of his policies for that matter? However, one can say that despite his strong arms tactics, during president Suharto's reign of power, the president never once did try to dissolve the parliament and use the military to enforce it, which would have been in violation of the 1945 constitution and the state ideology of Pancasila.

From the above discussion if we relate to Huntingtons' civil-military relations, it was clearly shown that in the case of General Ryacuduo, there was a conflict between military obedience and political wisdom.[60] In addition, it can also be seen that there was a conflict between military obedience and the legal status of the President's intention. TNI as the servant of the state is the servant only of the legitimately constituted authorities of the state. When President Wahid claimed that his intention was legal, but was interpreted as illegal by the parliament, then the TNI followed the parliament's judgment. Eventually, the TNI's consideration to follow the parliament's decision was supported by the parliament's firm decision to convene a special session to censure the president. With this action, it did not mean that the military was trying to show that it was not loyal to president, but only to send a message that TNI's main commitment is to the state and the nation, and not to any individual.


It has been more than ten years since the TNI's internal reformation was launched, most important of which is its retreat from day-to-day politics.[61] Time has proven that the impact of this effort has truly transformed the civilian military relations in the country, making Indonesia one of the few emerging democratic countries in the world that has been successful in its transition from an authoritarian rule.[62] TNI's transformation in this regard, has been considered as a role model for military change in terms of civil military relations.[63]

The suggestion that the TNI should abandon its traditional ethos such as loyalty to Sapta Marga, Pancasila, and the 1945 Constitution, and pledge it loyalty merely to the government of the day, was not obeyed by the TNI. On the contrary, it was proven that the TNI's code of conduct was relevant as a guideline to solve the ethical military dilemma on military obedience versus non-military values, that was put forward by Huntington. This fact was also supported by the insignificant political roles that the TNI play in today's Indonesia, which show precisely the precious values of the Sapta Marga as the code of conduct for the TNI's leadership. This is the most significant reason behind TNI's leadership decision when confronted with an ethical dilemma of becoming a military ruler or using the power at their disposal to support an authoritarian decree that was not supported by parliament, they chose chose to be loyal to its' values that were laid down by TNI's founding fathers.

These values system was recorded in the history of the TNI. Eventhough the TNI leadership has disagreement with the civilian authority, when the fate of Indonesia was at stake, and the military has the opportunity to seize the power, the TNI wouldn't use it because the TNI leadership would always maintain it's code of conduct, which is to remain above politics and with the people.[64]

"The government may change every day;
The military remains the same.
General Sudirrman- Commander-in-Chief
1947, Yogyakarta.



Colonel Imam Edy Mulyono is currently a faculty member at the Indonesian Army Command and Staff College. He graduated from the TNI Military Academy in 1984. His academic qualifications included a Master of Strategic Studies from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (2001) and a Master of Strategic Studies from the US Army War College (2008). Military courses attended included Psychological Operations Course dan Special Forces Course in the US (1989/1990), Indonesian Army Command and Staff College (1999) and US Army War College (2008). Has attended various seminars on current military issues both at home and abroad. Spent most of his career at KOSTRAD, two of his latest position being a Batallion Commander and a Brigade Chief of Staff. Has particpated in various operations and training both at home and abroad, including peacekeeping mission in Georgia as part of the UNOMIG.

Joanne B. Ciulla, Ethics, the heart of leadership (Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 2004), xvi.

Xenophon, Memorabilia, translated by Amy L. Bonnette (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1994).

Steven Nadler, Spinoza’s Ethics: An introduction. (New York, NY : Cambridge University Press, 2006).

Immanuel Kant, Perpetual Peace: A philosophical essay, translated by M. Campbell Smith (London, George Allen & Unwin, 1917), 161.

Émile Durkheim, Professional ethics and civic morals (New York, NY: Routledge, 2003), 14-15.

Daryl Koehn, The Ground of Professional Ethics (New York: Taylor & Francis, 2001), 2, 182.

Samuel P. Huntington, The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relations (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University
Press, 1957), 7-8.

Ibid, 74-76.

Adrian Vickers, A history of modern Indonesia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005).

Steven Drakeley, The history of Indonesia (Wesport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2005).

Merle Calvin Ricklefs, A History of Modern Indonesia since c. 1300, 2nd Edition (Stanford:Stanford University Press, 1991), 19.

Cliford Geertz, "The Javanese Kijaji: The changing role of a cultural broker," Comparative Studies in Society and History, 2, no.
2(1960), 228-249. See also Tan Ta Sen & Chen Dasheng, Cheng Ho and Islam in Southeast Asia (Singapore: Institute Of Southeast Asian
Studies, 2009) and Greg Barton, Abdurrahman Wahid: Muslim democrat, Indonesian president (Sydney, Australia: University of New
South Wales Press Ltd, 2002), 65 -67.

Anthony Reid, Southeast Asia in the Age of Commerce 1450-1680. Volume Two: Expansion and Crisis (New Haven: Yale University Press,

Sadao Oba, “My recollections of Java during the pacific war and Merdeka,”Indonesia and the Malay World, 8 (21), 1980, 6-14.

Indonesia's population in 2009 is estimated to be around 242 million. On the other hand, the Islamic Republic of Iran has about 66 million
people, while Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has 28 million and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has 33 million. SeeGeoHive: Global Statistics, retrieved 2 March 2010 from

The Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs estimated there are about 19 million Protestants and 8 million Catholics living in the country in 2009, while the population of Australia in 2009 is estimated at 21 million and New Zealand at 4 million. See GeoHive: Global Statisticson Australia and New Zealand and US Department of State, International Religious Freedom: 2009 Report on International Religious Freedom, East Asia and Pacific, Indonesia

, retrieved 2 March 2010 from 127271.htm.

The Indonesian Ministry of Religious Affairs estimated about 10 million Hindus living in the country, while Sri Lanka has about 3 million
Hindus. SeeUS Department of State, International Religious Freedom: 2009 Report on International Religious Freedom, South and Central Asia,Sri Lanka, retrieved 2 March 2010 from

The Indonesian part of Kalimantan has a total area of 547,891 sq km, while the total are of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, is 242,910 sq km. See GeoHive: Global Statistics on Indonesia and the United Kingdom, retrieved 2 March 2010 from

The Indonesian language, Bahasa Indonesia, was derived from Malay, the language spoken by traders. Malays however, constituted a mere 3.5 % of the total Indonesian population. The dominant language group in Indonesia is Javanese, spoken by about 41 % of the people, followed by Sundanese who comprised about 15 % of the population.. The Indonesian founding fathers, wisely chosen Bahasa Indonesia, instead of the dominant Javanese language for the sake of national unity, so that no ethic grouping can complaint that they have to learn the language spoken by the dominant group. Unlike in many other multilingual countries, by and large, up to this day, there is not a single conflict in Indonesia that is based on language differences. Belgium, with about 6 million Flemish and 3.5 million French speaking Walloons, has not been able to solve its problems on language differences in relation to its national identity. See the Permanent Committee on Geographical Names,Indonesia, Population and Administrative Divisions, retrieved 2 March 2010 from, Gloria Poedjosoedarmo, "The effect of Bahasa Indonesia as a lingua franca on the Javanese system of speech levels and their functions," International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 2006, no. 177 (2006), 111–121, and Jaak Billiet, Bart Maddens, and André-Paul Frognier. “Does Belgium (Still) Exist? Differences in Political Culture between Flemings and Walloons.” West European Politics, 29, no. 5 (2006), 912–32.

The estimated population of Singapore in 2009, is around 4 million, while it was estimated in the early 1990s that the total number of people of Chinese descent in Indonesia is about 7.3 million. See DL Poston Jr, MX Mao, MY Yu, "The global distribution of the overseas Chinese around 1990, Population and Development Review, 20, no. 3 (1994), 631-645 and GeoHive: Global Statistics on Singapore, retrieved 2 March 2010 from

Colin Brown, A short history of Indonesia: The unlikely nation? (Crows Nest, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 2003). See also Adam Schwarz, A nation in waiting: Indonesia's search for stability (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000.

Department of Information, Republic of Indonesia, Indonesia 1999: An Official Handbook (Jakarta: Department of Information, Republic of Indonesia, 1999).

Sally Heinrich, Key to Indonesia (Carlton South, Australia: Curriculum Corporation, 2005).

Eka Darmaputera. Pancasila and the search for identity and modernity in Indonesian society, PhD Dissertation, Boston College (1982), 330.

Greg Barton, Abdurrahman Wahid: Muslim democrat, Indonesian president (Sydney, Australia: University of New South Wales Press Ltd,
2002), 14.

Barry Turner, “Nasution: Total People’s Resistance and Organicist Thinking in Indonesia” (Unpublished PhD Thesis, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, 2005), 70.

Eri Hidayat and Gunawan,

Letkol Inf Imam Santosa, TNI sudah berusia 62 Tahun, lalu bagaimana? [TNI is already 62 years old, then what?] May 2008

Bilveer Singh, Civil-military relations in democratising Indonesia: The potentials and and limits to change (Canberra: Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, Australian National University, 2001), 64.

Lieutenant Colonel Eddy S. Harisanto,The Dual Function of The Indonesian Armed Forces (Dwi Fungsi ABRI), Master of Science in Management Thesis (Monterey CA: US Naval Postgraduate School, 1993). There are many translations of the Seven Pledges. This translation is an adaptation of the translation by Colonel Harisanto of the Indonesian Air Force. The writer found his translation to be closest in meaning to the original version of Saptamarga.


Seskoad, Dharma Pusaka 45 : Hasil seminar TNI-AD ke III, tanggal 13 s/d 18 Maret 1972 [Sacred Duties 45: Result of the 3rd
TNI AD Seminar, 13 to 18 March 1972] (Bandung, Indonesia: Seskoad, 1972).

Mabes ABRI, Pengantar Sishankamrata [Introduction to The People‘s Security and Defense System - Sishankamrata] (Bandung: Sekolah Staf dan Komando ABRI, 1993).

Douglas E.Ramage, Politics in Indonesia: Democracy, Islam and the Ideology of Tolerance (London: Taylor & Francis, 2005 ), 8-9.

Tahi Bonar Simatupang & Peter Suwarno, The fallacy of a myth (Jakarta: Pustaka Sinar Harapan, 1996), 133.

Ernst Utrecht, The Indonesian Army: A socio-political study of an armed, privileged group in the developing countries (Townsville,
Australia: Southeast Asian Studies Committee, James Cook University, 1979), 9.

Katharine E. McGregor, History in Uniform: Military ideology and the construction of Indonesia's past (Singapore: National University of
Singapore Press, 2007), 124.

Himawan Soetanto, Yogyakarta 19 Desember 1948: Jenderal Spoor (Operatie Kraai) versus Jenderal Sudirman (Perintah Siasat No. 1)
(Jakarta: Gramedia Pustaka Utama, 2006), 290.

Salim Said, hal 40.

William Hunter, George Kaufman, Thomas Krueger (Eds.) The Asian Financial Crisis: Origins, implications and solutions (Norwell, MA:
Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2000).

Kevin O’Rourke, Reformasi: The struggle for power in post-Soeharto Indonesia (Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin, 2002).

Wiranto, Bersaksi Di Tengah Badai: Dari Catatan Wiranto, Jenderal Purnawirawan (Jakarta: Ide Indonesia, 2003), 82.

Marcus Mietzner, “From Soeharto to Habibie: The Indonesian Armed Forces and Political Islam during the Transition,” in Geoff Forrester
(editor), Post-Soeharto Indonesia: Renewal or Chaos? (Singapore: Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies/Institute of Southeast
Asian Studies, 1999), 81. See also Barton, 240-241.

Anonymous, Wiranto Says He Already Passed Up Chance For Power (Jakarta Post, 5 March 1999, p. 2).

Anonymous, Wiranto Says He Already Passed Up Chance For Power (Jakarta Post, 5 March 1999, p. 2). See also Republika,
‘Wiranto Tentang Isu Kudeta: Saya Punya Kesempatan’, 22 January 2000, p. 3.

Reformasi, 153

Salim Said, Legitimizing Military Rule: Indonesian Armed Forces Ideology (Jakarta: Pustaka Sinar Harapan, 2006).

Reformasi 162

John Hasseman, “To change a military – the Indonesian Experience,” Joint Force Quarterly, 29 (2000), 23-30.

Marcus Mietzner, The politics of Military Reform in Post-Suharto Indonesia: Elite Conflict, Nationalism, and Institutional Resistance
(Washington: East-West Center, 2006), 16.

Adam Schwarz, A Nation in Waiting: Indonesia's Search for Stability (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2000), 364.

Wiranto, Bersaksi di tengah Badai

Terence Lee, Indonesian military taking the slow road to reform, The Straits Times, 18 December 2004.

Hidayat Tantan, Koesworo Setiawan, & Kholis Bakri, Pergeseran di Tubuh Angkatan Darat: Rayuan Dekrit Jenderal Politik (Gatra,
Jakarta, 21 Mei 2001).

Malley, Michael. 2002. “Indonesia in 2001: Restoring Stability in Jakarta.” Asian Survey42(1): 124–32.

Syahrir, TNI kembali unjuk gigi dengan menolak pilihan Gus Dur untuk jabatan KSAD (Warta Berita - Radio Nederland, 21 Mei 2001).

Mietzner, 29

Markas Besar Tentara Nasional Indonesia, Implementasi Paradigma Baru TNI Dalam Berbagai Keadaan Mutakhir (Jakarta: Mabes TNI, 2001), 57.

Huntington, 77

Leonard Sebastian, Realpolitik ideology: Indonesia's use of military force (Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2006), 334.

Tim Huxley, Security Sector Reform, Proceeding of the the Internationl Seminar: Indonesia 2025: Geopolitical and security challenges,
Jakarta March 11-12 2009, Indonesian Defense University.

John Haseman, (2000). To change a military – the Indonesian Experience. Joint Force Quarterly, 29, 23.

Michael Vatikiotis, Indonesian politics under Suharto: The rise and fall of the New Order, Third edition (New York: Routledge,
1998), 229.