Be firm on reshuffle, SBY told
President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono is reportedly now short-listing the names of new ministers for his first Cabinet shake-up during his second term in office.
Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha said Friday that the President had been working in his residence in Puri Cikeas, West Java, with Vice President Boediono since Thursday to discuss the impending Cabinet reshuffle.
The spokesman said that it was possible that the President had begun summoning several ministers on Friday, though he claimed that he did not who they were.
The President has gathered all his aides in Cikeas to brief them directly about the reshuffle process, presidential aide Daniel Sparringa was quoted as saying by Antara.
He said that the reshuffle talks continued until Sunday and would begin inviting leaders of the coalition parties next week.
The President has vowed to reshuffle his Cabinet before Oct. 21, which marked the third year of his second term in office. The plan came amid calls from observers and politicians for the President to replace a number of Cabinet members who had not met performance expectations or had been implicated in corruption scandals.
Yudhoyono has three years to improve the performance of his administration, which has been undermined by political wrangling with several parties of the ruling coalition — mainly the Golkar Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) — over certain issues and a series of graft scandals implicating several elite members of his Democratic Party.
Political analysts said it was crucial for the President to resist any political pressure or horse-trading in his reshuffle plan.
University of Indonesia analyst Iberamsjah said on Friday that Yu-dhoyono should be firm in using his prerogative in appointing his underlings. “He must not be held hostage by politics,” he said.
As the first directly elected president, Yudhoyono created a government coalition aimed at securing support from the House of Representatives, within which his Democratic Party only controlled by 26 percent of seats.
He has therefore been criticized for appointing too many party-affiliated figures to his Cabinet. “He should now mind public opinion more in choosing his ministers,” Iberamsjah said.
Democratic Party politician Ahmad Mubarok said Yudhoyono had broader room to appoint pro-fessionals and reduced the number of party-linked ministers, as he would not run for reelection in 2014. The party, he said, did not provide any inputs about the planned reshuffle.
“The President’s burden is not as heavy as in the previous reshuffle [in his 2004 tenure]. If any political parties would lash out against Yudhoyono’s decision then it is the public who would judge,” he said. “The President could implement his own leadership style this time.”
Most of the coalition parties said they would leave it to the President to decide upon the reshuffle, except the PKS, which has served more as a stinging gadfly than a partner to Yudhoyono in the coalition.
The party has called on the President to drop the reshuffle plan and focus on maximizing the performance of the current Cabinet. But the call will likely be ignored.
The PKS has four ministers in the Cabinet: Communications and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring, Agriculture Minister Suswono, Social Affairs Minister Salim Segaf Al-Jufri and Research and Technology Minister Suhana Surapranata.
Rumors have circulated that Democratic Party lawmaker Jafar Hafsah will be appointed to replace Saswono to head the Agriculture Ministry, which analysts said often served as a political vehicle to mobilize support among farmers.
Another Democratic Party lawmaker, Saan Mustofa, said that coalition parties should not “panic” in responding to the impending Cabinet reshuffle.
“If [the coalition parties] are not happy with this, they should say it in a good way. Do not make any unnecessary maneuvers,” he said.