President signs new decrees on deputy ministers
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has signed new decrees on the appointment of 20 deputy ministers following a ruling from the Constitutional Court (MK).
Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha confirmed the news, saying Yudhoyono would announce that matter soon.
“The decrees were signed on Thursday,” he said. “The President will make an announcement about the new decrees within the next week.”
The Constitutional Court recently ruled that while the deputy minister posts are legally sound, the elucidation of the State Ministry Law, that was used as the legal basis for the appointment of deputy ministers, was unconstitutional.
The court ordered the President to reappoint the deputy ministers through new decrees.
According to Julian, the President had also signed a new Presidential regulation revising the 2011 regulation on State Ministries, which stipulates the details about deputy minister positions.
Julian said Yudhoyono was also scheduled to announce the successor of the late health minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih, who passed away on May 2.
Yudhoyono opted not to change the composition of the deputy ministers, though some speculated he would have used the opportunity to do so.
Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsudin meanwhile said the upcoming announcement should end debates over the status of the deputy ministers.
“[The announcement is important] so the ministries can work optimally with the help of the deputy ministers. For me, the presence of a deputy minister at my ministry has been a large benefit,” he said.
Amir’s deputy is Denny Indrayana, a legal expert and Yudhoyono’s former advisor for legal affairs.
On Tuesday, the MK ruled that the elucidation of Article 10 of the 2008 State Ministry Law “unconstitutional and not binding”.
The elucidation previously stated that a deputy minister was a “career official and not a Cabinet minister”.
The ruling has prompted mixed responses centering on the suggestion that deputy minister positions have become political and hence deputy ministers should be included in the list of Cabinet members.
Experts believe that, as a consequence, Yudhyono’s Cabinet would consist of 58 people, comprising 34 ministers, 20 deputy ministers, and four other ministerial-level officials, making it the largest Cabinet since the fall of the late president Sukarno in 1967.
Such a move would be a reversal of Yudhoyono’s pledge that he would not have a “fat” Cabinet.
Julian, however, refused to comment whether the new decrees would also designate deputy ministers as Cabinet members.
State administrative expert and former law and human rights minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra said it should have been clear that deputy ministers would be Cabinet members and thus could be non-career figures including politicians.
About half of Yudhoyono’s ministers are politicians from six political parties in the government coalition.
The Constitutional Court issued its ruling on the issue following a complaint by an NGO called the National Movement for Corruption Eradication (GNPK) that challenged the legality of deputy minister posts.
According to GNPK, the 20 positions would only increase the burden on the state budget. The organization estimated the costs for the deputy ministers’ salaries and benefits would reach over Rp 1 trillion (US$107 million) in three years.
That amount of money should have been used to create jobs for unemployed people and to improve social welfare, the group said.
The MK, however, declared that only the elucidation of Article 10 contravened the 1945 Constitution, while the substance of the article itself did not.
Nonetheless, the court’s ruling prompted Yudhoyono to revise his decrees of appointment for all of his deputy ministers.
Also on Friday, GNPK chairman Adi Warman said despite Julian’s statement, his organization would lodge a complaint with the Office of the President, asking Yudhoyono to explain his disobedience of the MK’s ruling.
“We will continue with our plan to lodge the complaint until the President himself publicly announces the content of the new decrees that Julian said had been signed,” Adi said. (aml)