Authority and Law Enforcement: Local Government Reforms and Security Systems in Indonesia

By Kristiansen, Stein; Trijono, Lambang | Contemporary Southeast Asia, August 2005 | Go to article overview

Authority and Law Enforcement: Local Government Reforms and Security Systems in Indonesia


Kristiansen, Stein, Trijono, Lambang, Contemporary Southeast Asia


Introduction

Since 2001, Indonesia has undergone wide-ranging decentralization. Political power and administrative responsibility have been transferred from the central government to the district level. District authorities now have the political mandate to issue decrees and regulations and full responsibility for the public management of sectors such as education, health care, public works, culture and the environment. The devolution process follows the economic crisis which began in 1997, the fall of the authoritarian regime of president Suharto in 1998, and the implementation of free and democratic elections in 1999.

There is a long tradition of people and groups taking the law into their own hands in Indonesia. However, there has been an increase in horizontal violence after the change of political leadership and structures in 1998/99. Theft and destruction of private property has become common and large numbers of ordinary people in many parts of the country have been threatened or suffered from physical violence or been tortured and even executed by their peers. Nationwide, several hundred people have been killed every year by angry mobs in incidents of street vigilantism (Kompos, 25 September 2001). Much of the horizontal violence observed over the last few years is related to the economic crisis and unemployment, combined with the weakening of central state institutions, including the police. Lasting problems of horizontal violence are also often associated with ethnicity, as in Solo, Mataram and Medan, and religion, as in the Moluccas and Central Sulawesi. The police force has not been decentralized. After being separated from the military in 1999, the national police has been administratively placed directly under the authority of the president, with some responsibilities still delegated to the provincial governors. The decentralization laws and regulations do not delineate specific roles for the police and security matters at the district level. This means that the delegation of huge responsibilities to the districts is not formally backed up by law enforcement power. Instead, we see an alarming development of local security forces and paramilitary groups controlled by district authorities. These security forces can hardly be interpreted as anything but an instrument to create legitimacy by force, instead of by popular support or democratic procedure, for local government policies.

The main objective of this article is to trace the impact of decentralization reforms on law enforcement and security systems at the district level. Four administrative regions which have different experiences in security problems and organizing paramilitary groups were selected for study. Two questions are raised: have decentralization reforms strengthened the tendencies to escalating disorder and crime rates in Indonesian society? What are the impacts of formally separating law-making and -enforcing systems in the decentralization reforms? The methodology used is mostly qualitative, based on in-depth interviews and focus group discussions. In addition, we raised questions regarding security problems and systems in a survey that included more than 500 households in the four districts.

This article is organized as follows: the introduction is followed by an overview of the history of criminality, law enforcement and security systems in Indonesia. The introduction of the new decentralization laws and their implementation since 2001 are then discussed. Methodology and research areas are presented in section four and our empirical findings are discussed in section five. A conclusion and policy recommendations are given at the end of the article.

Historical Overview

Informally organized security systems have long existed in Indonesia. It was not until 1900 that reasonably standardized police forces appeared within the Dutch colony. Till then, most of the non-European quarters of the colony's cities and towns were "policed" by volunteer neighbourhood watches, known as rondo, who routinely treated suspected thieves, burglars, and other undesirables with vigilante violence (Anderson 2001, p. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Authority and Law Enforcement: Local Government Reforms and Security Systems in Indonesia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.