May 20, 2011

Indonesia hopes to sell SS-2 assault rifles to Myanmar

Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro says the government hopes to sell Indonesian-made SS-2 assault rifles to Myanmar.

“[Myanmar] looked at the SS-2. We have been offering it,” he said Thursday after the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting in Jakarta.

Purnomo said that the nation’s arms trade was currently conducted by Indonesian Incorporated, which represented Indonesia’s state-owned weapons maker, PT Pindad; the Defense Ministry and the Defense Industry Policy Committee (KKIP).

“Myanmar is already in the process of transition. They already had an election. It has to be done in phases,” Purnomo said.

Col. Jan Pieter Ate a special assistant to the Indonesian Defense Minister, said that in principle Indonesia would not limit its arms sales to any nation, including ASEAN member nations.

“They should control their own markets rather than countries outside ASEAN,” he said.

Jan Pieter said that Indonesia’s policy on arms sales was related to the ASEAN defense industry collaboration.

“It’s all right if we want to sell [arms] to Malaysia, Laos or Vietnam, and Myanmar. What we do not hope for — and we do not compromise in this — is if the weapons are used to threaten other countries,” Jan
Pieter said.

He added that Indonesia’s stance was firm, waving off the possibility that Indonesian-made weapons might be used on civilians.

“The main purpose of weapons is to defend a country. This appeals to us as well,” Jan Pieter said.

Weapons sales might help Indonesia support Myanmar’s shift towards democracy, he added.

“With such a relationship, we will have better access to the country to improve democracy. If one [nation] does not have a relationship with another, it would be hard to influence one another. One of the ways is through trade, and defense is one of the ways [to do that],” Jan Pieter said.

University of Indonesia security analyst Andi Widjajanto said the idea of selling Indonesian weapons to Myanmar was more positive than negative. “An ‘embargo’ of light weapons to Myanmar will in fact push the Myanmar to enter the black market,” he said.

Giving Myanmar the option to remain in the international weaponry market would cause the transnational criminal network supporting arms smuggling to lose revenue, he said

Source: Jakarta Post