Aftermath of KRI Nanggala-402: Need for Better Social Security Schemes for TNI Personnel

Fair winds and following seas on your eternal patrol, KRI Nanggala-402.

This article is published in the memory of Colonel (P) Heri Oktavian, the Commander of KRI 402-Nanggala, an RSIS Strategic Studies Alumnus.


Following the KRI Nanggala 402 incident, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo visited East Java to meet families of sunken Indonesian submarine crew. President Jokowi promised that the Indonesian government would provide scholarships for the children of the 53 submariners until they complete their bachelor’s degrees. Jokowi also promised that the government will build houses for the families in their desired locations in East Java. Were these promises ad-hoc policies? What are the official regulations in providing protection and welfare (i.e. social security scheme) for TNI personnel? This article also highlights potential issues of governmental assistance to the families of these fallen submariners.

Revising Current Regulation on Scholarships Better than Ad-hoc Policies

In 2020, Jokowi issued Governmental Regulations (Peraturan Pemerintah/PP) No. 54/2020 on the amendment of Government Regulations No. 102/2015 on compensation for the Indonesian Armed Forces, the Indonesian National Police, and civil servants under the Ministry of Defence (MinDef). With this regulation, compensations for families of deceased soldiers increased. This insurance scheme is managed by state-owned insurance company Asuransi Sosial Angkatan Bersenjata (Asabri) which engages other relevant counterparts for the disbursement of financial compensations. An example of this relationship is Asabri engaging Mandiri Taspen banks to distribute the old age saving funds (Tabungan Hari Tua/THT), Work Accident Benefit (JKK), and scholarships.

However, Jokowi’s promise of providing scholarships for all the fallen submariners’ children seems at odds with regulations PP No. 54/2020. In this regulation, the government will provide scholarships up to two children of deceased soldiers, capped at IDR 30 million (USD $2,100) per child. In a prior regulation, scholarships were granted to only one child capped at IDR 30 million. In other words, under regulations PP No. 54/2020, the government is not obligated to provide such scholarships to beyond the second child.

The regulation also specified that scholarships will be granted via lump sum payments instead of periodic payments. Such lump sum payments have a potential downside. With limited financial acuity, a lump sum payment, specifically meant for education, may be used for both educational and non-educational intents. Consequently, families may face difficulties sustaining long-term education for their two children.

To overcome such limitations, Jokowi’s administration ensured that all the fallen submariners’ children could securely pursue higher education. The Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Navy co-signed an agreement on scholarships for the children of these submariners from elementary school to university. In contrast to the insurance scheme, the agreement stipulates that the government will disburse payment to the families periodically with disbursements potentially till 2044. Scholarships will also cover both tuition fees and living costs.

The co-signed agreement is not the only scholarship avenue for these children. MinDef is also providing scholarships for the children. The Minister of Defence, Prabowo Subianto, stated that the children of submariners will be able to pursue education in MinDef’s affiliated educational institutions, such as Taruna Nusantara High School and University of Defence (Universitas Pertahanan). Additionally, the Mayor of Surabaya is also granting scholarships for the children of submariners residing in Surabaya.

There is, however, one important consideration of having numerous scholarship avenues for these children. Although they could fill loopholes of the current insurance scheme, it might create confusion among the families if there is a lack of coordination between the governmental agencies awarding these scholarships, particularly a centralized contact point for scholarship enquiries.

More importantly, rather than ad-hoc policies, the Indonesian government could have revised the existing regulation. The government should not only increase the monetary amount of scholarships and recipients, but also create specific schemes which ensure that payments to families are utilized solely for their children’s long-term education. One such scheme could entail an annual disbursement of payment at the start of a new school year with the amount that would be disbursed to commensurate with the level of education. Therefore, an initial assessment of educational costs is required to develop a tiered payment that supports a burden-free education for these children and their families. Additionally, this tiered payment should be regularly reviewed to align with any price changes.

Housing Grants for Families: An Abrupt Policy?

Though Jokowi promised to build houses for these families in their desired locations, PP No. 54/2020 does not mention such housing grants. Instead, it mentions a House Ownership Credit (KPR) scheme for soldiers. In facilitating this promise, news about this housing grants were delivered in piecemeals. For example, in early June 2021, the Ministry of Public Works and Housing (Kementerian PUPR) stated its responsibility in building the houses for these families  in Sidoarjo and Surabaya, East Java. Later, the Navy Chief of Staff, Yudo Margono, shared that the families can either live in those houses or sell them.

Collectively, these suggest that such housing grants were an abrupt policy without thorough prior assessments. Such assessments are crucial in understanding the exact needs of these families as they move on in their lives. This would also enable sufficient financial assistance is rendered to these grieving families. Unfortunately, it is now too late to conduct such assessments. These public promises must be honoured by the Indonesian government where failure, actual or perceived, will risk public backlash.

Need for Coordination for Psychological Counselling and Employment

Jokowi’s administration is also committed to caring for the families’ mental wellbeing. The Minister of Social Affairs, Tri Rismaharini, stated that the ministry will dispatch psychologists to provide counselling for the families. The ministry has also requested assistance from the Surabaya local government to provide counsellors to support its efforts. Besides psychologists, the Social Affairs Ministry will create job opportunities for the families to work in the ministry. Minister Rismaharini also highlighted that the ministry will assist the families gain employment at relevant governmental institutions, such as the Surabaya local government.

Similarly, these efforts were indicative of being reactionary and ad hoc. Moving forward, policies should be implemented to ensure close coordination between national and local governments to not only enable quick deployment of resources to provide emotional support but also help families gain financial stability. This is essential for a majority of TNI personnel who are the sole bread winners.


Jokowi is known for his impromptu statements. This spontaneity requires his administration to execute new promises rather than solely relying on existing regulations. Although Jokowi’s statements are for the greater good of the submariners’ families, rigorous planning is necessary for the long-term sustainability of policies. Well-designed regulations and effective coordination between relevant agencies are urgently needed. Initiatives to engage local governments, such as with the Surabaya local government, should be a feature in these regulations with relevant mayors playing a key role for smooth coordination between central and local governments. Noteworthily, in this instance, the close coordination between the Surabaya local government and the Ministry of Social affairs could be attributed to close personal ties. Surabaya Mayor, Eri Cahyadi, is the protégé of Minister Tri Rismaharini, formerly the Surabaya Mayor herself. Therefore, future efforts for similar incidents should rely on well-established regulations and effective coordination rather than on personal relationships.

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of STRAT.O.SPHERE CONSULTING PTE LTD.

This article is published under a Creative Commons Licence. Republications minimally require 1) credit authors and their institutions, and 2) credit to STRAT.O.SPHERE CONSULTING PTE LTD  and include a link back to either our home page or the article URL.


  • Chaula R. Anindya is a PhD candidate at the Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto and an alumnus of Strategic Studies, RSIS, NTU, Singapore. Her research interests include radicalization, deradicalisation, counterterrorism policies, and civil-military relations in Indonesia.

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