Markus Junianto Sihaloho
The controversy surrounding the use of fake military license plates for vehicles continues to grow, with critics calling on the government and military leaders to put an end to the abuse.
Tubagus Hasanuddin, the head of House of Representatives Commission I, which oversees defense and foreign affairs, said on Sunday that the use of fake plates could be indicative of other criminal behavior.
“Information we have received is that most of the civilian vehicles that sport fake military license plates do not have the required paperwork or registration,” he said. “The owners use military plates and hope the authorities don’t pull them over.”
To support his claim, he cited the example of two SUVs seized by authorities and impounded at a Jakarta military installation. Both vehicles lack the required paperwork. “The cars were seized during a sweep at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport,” the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker said.
Hasanuddin, himself a retired military officer, was one of the first people to publicly raise the issue of fake military plates. His comments to the media led to a series of raids.
“The heads of the armed forces and each branch of the military have to work together with the police to ensure the proper use of military license plates,” Hasanuddin said.
The legislator speculated that one reason perpetrators used fake military license plates was to commit crimes, such as transporting drugs.
Vehicles carrying military plates are normally not targeted by police during traffic operations and oversight usually falls to the Military Police. However, the Military Police rarely conduct raids.
Last week, Military chief Adm. Agus Suhartono waded into the controversy, calling on embossers not to accept orders to make such plates.
Speaking at the House on Thursday, Agus said plate makers, who typically operate out of small shacks on the side of the road, should turn down all requests to produce a military license plate.
“We call on them not to accept these orders, and I have called on my subordinates not to place such orders,” he said.
He was speaking in response to the recent controversy sparked by a photo of a Porsche SUV sporting military plates.
The picture, taken at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, was uploaded on the online news portal Detik.com.
The military denied that a Porsche Cayenne Turbo, which retails in Indonesia for around Rp 3.85 billion ($410,000), was the kind of car that it issued to officers and promised to investigate.
Additional reporting by Ezra Sihite