Why Indonesia Needs to Reform Maritime Security Governance


President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) seems not to show any significant progress in the aspect of maritime security governance. The reason lies under the ignorance towards the existence and role of maritime security governance as a guarantor of Indonesia’s maritime economy development. As if we invite and let people invest in our company, President Jokowi did not realize that there has been a high rate of crimes occurring inside the company, which will be taken into consideration by investors. To that end, President Jokowi needs to gaze slightly the issues of maritime security governance in Indonesia before figuring the way to reform it.

Indonesia as a maritime country holds two roles: First, Indonesia plays key role  as a bridge of the global shipping and trade through Alur Laut Kepulauan Indonesia. Second, Indonesia could also become a hotbed of pirates in Southeast Asia. According to the report from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Indonesia was ranked 8th from a total of 80 developing countries with unloading capacity to 9,638,607 TEUs of containers in 2012, 11.27345 million TEUs in 2013, and 11,900,763 TEUs in 2014. Through this potential contribution of 200 trillion rupiah per year for Indonesia’s GDP (Jompa, 2014), Indonesia has the opportunity to be a stopover point for global shipping and trade.

However, Indonesia arrived as the first-rank country for piracy and armed robbery against ships incidents. Compared to other countries in Southeast Asia, Indonesia is highly vulnerable to the pirate attacks. Moreover, ports have served as a conquerable spot for most of piracy and armed robbery against ships in Indonesia. The percentage incident happening at ports has respectively reached 65% of total cases in 2012, 79% in 2013, 77% in 2014 and 82% in 2015. These findings assure that port is the vulnerable areas targeted by pirates.

Thus, the question lies in whether the Jokowi’s government has seen the importance of maritime security governance. If so, how has the maritime security governance been progressing?

Maritime security governance, as a policy system, consists of three main aspects, namely the legal framework, institutions, and resources. In the context of Indonesia, there has been no adequate legal framework. Law No. 32/2014 on Maritime and Law No. 17/2008 on Shipping do not regulatethe function and role of maritime security institutions in combating piracy. Even so, it cannot be ruled out that Indonesia has shown an early commitment in terms of maritime transportation security by authorizing the Draft Law on the Maritime Labour Convention 2006 into a law to ensure the safety of the crew.

In term of institution, Indonesia experienced a fairly problematicalissue in managing the existing maritime security institutions. After the implementation of the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code, there is a mixed response from the stateswhich have intensively utilized their maritime domain. One is preparing its civil maritimelaw enforcement agency, such as marinepolice and coast guard, where some are involving naval armyfor maritime patrol and law enforcement. However, in the case of Indonesia, it remains equivocal.

Law No. 32/2004 on Marine has clearly dictated the role of Badan Keamanan Laut (Bakamla) as a civil maritime law enforcement agency and the TNI-AL as an institution whose role is to manage, maintain, and protect national sovereignty. However, in practice, TNI-AL perceives that the function of law enforcement at sea remains the duty of TNI-AL through the successful apprehension of pirates who hijacked KM Hai Soon 12 in Tanjung Puting, South Kalimantan, where the Head of the Information Office of the Indonesian Navy First Admiral Edi Sucipto explained that the TNI-AL as a law enforcement agency at sea must prevent all forms of violence within the jurisdiction, and always exercising patrols to maintain security in the territory of Indonesia.Although according to the former Chief of Territorial Staff of the Indonesian Army Lt. Gen. (ret.) Agus Widjojo, the function of law enforcement in national waters must be carried out by civilian law enforcement agencies. This situation indicates the problem of coordination among Indonesian maritime security institution,in which requires a significant political role of President Jokowi to dictate agencies in accordance to the authorized role.

The last is the resources issue including fleets’ capabilities and system, as well as personnel with ample experience and training. Bakamla obtained financial support from the government with a budget of 520 billion rupiah per year plus three patrol boats, which is then be added with the approval of the Parliament of 726.3 billion rupiah per year with an additional 30 units patrol boats. However, Bakamla is experiencing a shortage in human resources aspects. According to the Head of Operations Management of Bakamla Colonel Andi Achdar, human resources persists as main problem.

The small number of human resources encroaches the performance Bakamla covering many aspects, such as the formulation of national policies in the field of security and safety, the implementation of early warning systems, custody and supervision, monitor execution, and so on. With these limitations, carrying out all the functions in a wide range of work areas by Bakamla is unlikely for a country with huge maritime size like Indonesia.

At this point, it is necessary for Indonesia to consider the maritime security governance reform by performing two-level efforts.

At the national level, the Indonesian government needs to consider the availability of a legal framework that specifically regulates the issue of maritime security with the aim of establishing a strong legal basis and to facilitate the creation of laws derivation into specific instruments, such as the making of action plan and blueprints. Indonesia should also strengthen the role of civil maritime law enforcement agency despite the high stake of TNI-AL whose deterrence effect may exacerbate the border disputes in Southeast Asia’s waters. Moreover, lifting the role of civil maritime law enforcement agency will be much more effective and efficient using affordable commercial-standardized fleets to subdue pirates.

At the regional level, Indonesia needs to intensify the existing maritime security cooperation, such as the Malacca Straits Sea Patrols (MSSP) and newly-established Sulu Sea Patrol Initiative (SSPI), overcoming resource limitations in the maritime security governance through joint training and exchange of knowledge and manpower.

Given such condition in which Indonesia possesses limited resources, Indonesia needs to consider an involvement in a particular area or sector in international relations. President Jokowi along with the ranks of government can build a prototype of a policy initiative where the issue of the maritime economy can be associated and overlaid with maritime security issues, thus promoted in the region as a mechanism of cooperation to face common non-traditional maritime security threat.

Finally, this complexity signifies the importance of Indonesia to regard maritime security governance. Otherwise, Indonesia may experience the loss of its potential strategic ports as a transit point, and the breakdown of its image as a maritime nation.

Dedi Dinarto is a researcher at ASEAN Studies Center, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, Universitas Gadjah Mada.