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Is it Safe, Yet?

Questions Raised Over Safety of President, Vice-President and Visiting Heads of State to Bali Following Recent High Profile Lapses by Presidential Security Detail.

Bali News: Bali, Indonesia, presidential security, Megawati Soekanoputri, Paspampres, Major General Agus Sutomo, TB Hasanuddin, Bandung, Boediono, vice-president
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On the eve of visits by at least 16 heads of state to Bali for the coming ASEAN Summit, the vice-chairman of the Commission I of the Indonesian House of Representatives (DPR), TB Hasanuddin, has called for the replacement of Major General Agus Sutomo as the head of the Presidential Security Service (Paspampres). quotes Hasanuddin as saying, “in my opinion the Head of Paspampres must be replaced.”

The request for a replacement comes after two significant security breaches. Presidential security failed in Bali on Monday, October 24, 2011, when a gardener penetrated three security cordons and found himself standing adjacent to a stage occupied by the President, his family and members of the cabinet [See: Gardener of Paradise]. Four days later, on October 24th, a rampaging student in Bandung. West Java, managed to disrupt security surrounding vice-president Boediono who was attending an official ceremony on October 28, 2011, and  was stopped by the security team just 15 meters away from the vice-president. 

Hasanuddin, who served as a military secretary during the presidency of Megawati Soekarnoputri, told the press that the Presidential Security Detail (Paspampres) is divided into two groups: group “A” guarding the President (RI-1) and group “B” assigned to protecting the Vice-president (RI-2). “If, however, both (details) are penetrated, well, then the head of the presidential security team must be replaced,” said Hasanuddin, who is a retired Major General in the Army, the same rank held by the current head of Paspampres.

Hasanuddin said that the maintenance of “Ring I” – the security cordon closest to the president – is absolutely crucial to keeping Indonesia’s Chief Executive safe. He asked rhetorically what the results would have been if a man on a bicycle penetrating “Ring I” surrounding the president was not a gardener, but a terrorist carrying a weapon? He continued by postulating, “or, for instance, if the president was hit by a grenade thrown from a close distance?.

Hasanuddin proclaimed to the press that his protective services for the president were never penetrated in 11 years of service.

While Major General Agus Sutomo has admitted that his team was guilty of inadvertence during the incident in Bali, he vehemently denied the security team was actually "penetrated."  Meanhwile, the head of the Indonesian Armed Forces and, by extension, Sutomo’s boss, Major General Agus Suhartono, has denied that any “penetration” of the presidential security took place.

“There was no penetration. That there are layers of security is done precisely to anticipate such situations. If someone gets past a ring, then there’s another ring followed by another ring after that," said Suhartono at the DPR building in Jakarta, October 24, 2011.

Concerns are also being expressed, asking if the recent failings by the presidential security team will have a negative impact on plans by many heads of state, including U.S. President Barack Obama, to visit Bali in mid-November.

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