07 September 2012

No transparency in government purchase of weapons from Indonesia

PT Pindad Company Logo
ETLJB 05/09/2012 (Updated 08/09/2012 at 1536hrs AEST)- The Government of East Timor has been procuring weapons and defence apparatus such as tanks and armoured personnel carriers from an Indonesian weapons supply company with absolutely no publicity or transparency.

Instead of learning of these weapons procurements from their own government, Indonesian media has been reporting on the purchases.

Indonesian media reported that Timor-Leste plans to purchase armoured personnel carriers from Indonesian weapons manufacturer PT Pindad and that a Director of PT Pindad will arrive in Timor-Leste on 12 September 2012 to formalise the necessary arrangements with the Government. PT Pindad is an Indonesian state-owned company.

It is not known how many or which type of armoured personnel carrier the government will order or how much they will cost. Estimates put the base price between $420,000 USD and $840,000 USD per unit.

As Fundasaun Mahein, the peak NGO in the security sector in East Timor has pointed out, this is the most recent case in which the Timorese public learned of its own government’s weapons purchase through Indonesian media. Earlier reports in Indonesia indicated that the government of East Timor also plans to buy a tank. The Timorese government has never informed the Timorese public about its weapons purchases.

There is no reason why the Government should not have informed the community about these controversial weapons and defence machinery. There is no justification on the grounds of national security. Otherwise the news would not have been made public in Indonesia.

It is, according to Fundasaun Mahein, also unknown why the country needs either a tank or an armoured personnel carrier. There is no war or external threat of aggression; least of all from Indonesia. The only other object for the use of such instruments of violence would be against the East Timorese population itself.

As Fundasaun Mahein points out, it would be better if the Government engaged in a dialogue with the community about these procurements and to put its energies into working with Indonesia in strategic defence and cooperation rather than spending large amounts of money that would be better allocated to poverty alleviation.

There has been controversy and criticism from civil society over the purchase of these guns and other means of state violence from an Indonesian arms supplier for the East Timor police because initial tests showed them to be of poor quality and because there had been no transparency or publicity from the government informing the community of such state assets.

In relation to the recent new weapons procurement for the police force, Commissioner Monteiro was reported by Diario Nacional on 5 September 2012 that the new gun is the PM2-V1 model. The serial numbers for the guns are from 000001 to 0000075.

"It will be the first time this gun has been used by police anywhere in the world",  he said.

But two prominent local NGO's, namely, Yayasan HAK (The Human Rights Foundation) and Luta Hamutuk have in fact accused the government of using the state budget dishonestly and imprudently in relation to the expenditure of considerable funds on such weapons and defence machinery, reported Diario Nacional yesterday.

"The Timor-Leste government uses the General Budget of the State imprudently, without good faith and dishonestly as well as engaging in corruption, collusion and cronyism in other projects which have failed to deliver the desired results, " said Mericio Akara from Luta Hamutuk.

He added that the procurement of the PM2 V1 weapons that were bought for the Close Personal Security (CPS) Unit had become unusable just after being test fired. With regard to this Mericio Akara said that when one sets out to buy weapons, one must be aware of the condition and quality of the weapons so that the peoples' money is used to buy good quality weapons and not to buy weapons that are counterfeit or second hand.

The Director of the NGO Luta Hamutuk also suggested that the National Parliament summon the Secretary of State for Security and the Commandant General of the Timor -Leste National Police (PNTL) Longuinhos Monteiro to clarify why it is that the peoples' money was used to buy weapons of poor quality.

The Executive Director of Yayasan HAK, Rogerio Viegas Vicente, also said that the government did not have a sound plan for the procurement and management of weapons.

"The weapons bought by our government were only test fired once and they broke.  This shows that there was no preparation and management.  By the same token, one should not just think to buy weapons from Indonesia but then after they arrive things become like we experienced in 2006, whereby they show off buying the weapons then in the end they are lost like during the 2006 crisis and we are unable to find them afterwards," Rogerio Vicente questioned.

Rogerio also challenged the government to properly assess the advantages and disadvantages of buying weapons from Indonesia so that there is no negative impact on Timor-Leste in the future.
Translation of one of the Indonesian media reports about the purchase of a tank (or tanks) by East Timor from the Indonesian state owned company, PT Pindad Persero. The original Indonesian text follows.

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – East Timor will order a tank from PT Pindad Persero this year. "At the moment, we are still in the process of negotiations which need to be finalised," said the Executive Director of Pindad, Mr. Adik Avianto, on Saturday, 1 September 2012.

He will depart for East Timor on 12 September 2012 along with a business team to sign a letter of agreement with the East Timor delegation. According to Mr Avianto, the Minister for Security and the Minister for Finance have already agreed to the plan to export tanks.

After the signing of the agreement, the next step in the process will be discussions on the payment arrangements. Later, East Timor will pay by way of a credit with Bank Mandiri.  Mr Avianto was unable to fully explain the payment arrangements because “East Timor has not yet decided which type of tank will be ordered. It depends on their needs” he said. Similarly, it is not yet certain how many tanks will be ordered.

The price of the 4x4 type tank that can be used on level terrain, such as in urban areas, is Rp4 billion (Indonesian rupiah). However, the price increases if there are additional accessories such as a guns or cameras. By comparison, the price of a 6x6 tank that can handle rough terrain is Rp8 billion.

Translated by Warren L. Wright 8 September 2012 ©
TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Timor Leste akan memesan panser atau tank dari PT Pindad Persero pada tahun ini. "Saat ini masih proses negosiasi, tinggal penyelesaiannya," kata direktur utama Pindad, Adik Avianto, Sabtu 1 September 2012.

Ia akan berangkat ke Timor Leste pada 12 September 2012 mendatang bersama tim perusahaan untuk menandatangani surat perjanjian dengan delegasi Timor Lester. Menurut Adik, Kementerian Pertahanan dan Kementerian Keuangan telah setuju dengan rencana ekspor panser.

Setelah penandatanganan, proses selanjutnya adalah membicarakan perjanjian pembayaran. Nantinya negara tersebut membayar secara kredit ke Bank Mandiri. Mengenai nilai pembelian, Adik belum bisa menjelaskan. Sebabnya, "Timor Leste belum memastikan jenis panser yang dipesan. Jadi tergantung kebutuhan," Adik berujar. Begitu juga dengan jumlah yang akan dipesan.

Harga panser dengan jenis 4x4 atau yang biasa digunakan pada medan ringan, seperti perkotaan, per unitnya senilai Rp 4 miliar. Namun harga akan naik jika ditambahkan dengan asesoris seperti senjata atau kamera pengintai. Sedangkan panser bagi medan berat, atau jenis 6x6 harga per unitnya Rp 8 miliar.

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