National Intelligence reports directly to the President: “This is a correct step to take”

5
Coordinating Minister of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud M. D. (Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO – President Jokowi has issued Presidential Regulation No. 73 of 2020, declaring that the Indonesian National Intelligence Agency (Badan Intelijen Negara – “BIN”) is no longer to be administratively placed under the supervision of the Coordinating Ministry of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, but will rather report directly to the President. “BIN is being moved right under the President because he needs national intelligence results more directly,” said Coordinating Minister of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Mahfud M. D. in his official Twitter account on Saturday (18/07/2020). 

BIN’s function and duty are to provide confidential information relating to the security of the Nation to the Head of State. With BIN coordinating directly with the President, naturally we will hope that the President can make decisions relating to national security much more promptly. Member of House of Representatives’ (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”) Commission I Muhammad Iqbal stated that “It is proper for BIN to be placed directly under the President. That is its natural place – we should have done it long ago, as it cuts through institutional bureaucracy.” 

Similarly, fellow DPR Commission I member Bobby Adhityo Rizaldi states that it is appropriate for BIN to be placed directly under the President. According to Law Number 17 of 2011 concerning National Intelligence, the President is BIN’s single client. “There is really not much change here – the firsthand receiver of intelligence products is the President. Even if there is information shared from it, it will not be firsthand info,” he said. 

The People’s Consultative Assembly (Majelis Permusyawaratan Rakyat – “MPR”) of RI’s Deputy Speaker from Democrat Party Faction Syarief Hasan stated that BIN will have more independence by being placed directly under the President. “The Presidential Regulations makes it easier for BIN, gives it more freedom to formulate and implement intelligence policies and operations, with or without the obligation to coordinate with any other agency,” he said. “BIN’s intelligence duties are related to State secrets, so it is only right that only the President is privy to this information. We need to make sure that no such State-sensitive information gets leaked. Philosophically and functionally, BIN is a single-client agency that should report only to the Head of State, to the President of RI.” 

Syarief stated that this policy is also implemented by a number of countries regarding their intelligence agencies. For example, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is directly answerable to the US President, the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) is under the direct supervision of the British Premier, and the SVR Intelligence Agency is under the direct command of the President of Russia. He further stated that even though BIN is no longer supervised by the Coordinating Ministry of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, it can still coordinate with other agencies as necessary. However, such coordination is not mandatory 

Meanwhile, State Administration Law expert Refly Harun stated that BIN can refuse to provide any information requested by the Coordinating Ministry of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs if the President does not allow it. This is a loss to the Coordinating Ministry as an agency. He thinks that there are three reasons why Jokowi releases BIN from the Coordinating Ministry’s supervision and directly places it under his own. “First is for BIN’s professionalism. The second is the person who becomes the Head of BIN, and the third is BIN’s relations to stakeholders,” he said. 

Refly believes that Jokowi wants to make sure that BIN maintains its professionalism by providing its information to him (Jokowi) for the interest of the country and not for that of any other group. This is how it should be. However, what information has BIN been collecting that it is necessary to submit it directly to the President? “Is it really intelligence data necessary for protecting the well-being of this nation, or are there other requirements made for intel info?” he said. 

As for the Head of BIN, Refly believes that Budi Gunawan is inseparable from BIN being taken out of the Coordinating Ministry of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs’ control. “In this context (BIN), we all know that he is a strong and influential man, one who even successfully brought Prabowo and Jokowi to peace. He is a powerful man – doesn’t talk much, but powerful,” he said. 

The Head of BIN, Police General (Ret.) Budi Gunawan, is closely related to the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan – “PDIP”). He once served as adjutant to PDIP’s General Chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri. This is hard to ignore, and it will always be somehow related to BIN’s release from the Coordinating Ministry of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs via Presidential Regulation No. 73 of 2020. “As he is from the ruling party, in this context perhaps it would be more comfortable for him if he serves directly under the President (who is from the same party) than under the Coordinating Ministry of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs,” he said. (dan)