Jokowi's Cabinet lacks wow factor
Ina Parlina and Hasyim Widhiarto
The Jakarta Post
President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo announced on Sunday his much-anticipated Cabinet lineup, which promptly received a mixed review from analysts and politicians.
President Jokowi said his Cabinet, which he dubbed the 'Kabinet Kerja' or 'Working Cabinet', was the best that he could come up with after a meticulous process.
'I selected the ministers carefully and meticulously because this Cabinet will be working for [the next] five years. We wanted to get clean figures, therefore, we consulted with the KPK [Corruption Eradication Commission] and the PPATK [Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre] to get accurate [background information],' Jokowi said in his speech before making the announcement.
Jokowi also said that he selected the ministers based on their capabilities, as well as their leadership and managerial skills.
While announcing the lineup, Jokowi took turns to introduce the 34 figures in his Cabinet in a modest press conference held at the lawn of the Merdeka Palace.
Jokowi cracked a few jokes as he introduced the ministers, bringing a relaxed atmosphere to what might otherwise have been a politically charged event.
'He wrote many books on the failures of our development programs, so I asked him to join [the Cabinet] so in the future our development program won't fail,' Jokowi said while introducing the new National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) Head Andrinof Chaniago, a University of Indonesia political science lecturer.
When introducing the new Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan, who currently serves as PT Kereta Api Indonesia president, Jokowi told him to sprint to the stage. 'Run, Pak Jonan [...] run,' said Jokowi.
Jokowi, however, dissuaded the new Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti from running to the stage when her name was called. 'Please, no need to run Bu [ma'am],' he said, with a chuckle.
The appointment of some individuals as ministers in Jokowi's Cabinet, however, has also raised eyebrows.
Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu is regarded as having a poor human-rights record, while others such as Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Puan Maharani and Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya have been deemed as being unqualified for their new jobs.
Ryamizard, who served as Army chief of staff between 2002 and 2004, is known for his controversial statements. He is also alleged to have had roles in a number of human-rights violation cases.
Ryamizard, who recently recovered from a mild stroke, has denied the allegations. 'Just ask them why now [are critics making such allegations]?' he told reporters.
Puan Maharani, a top executive at the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the daughter of the party's chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri, said she deserved her ministerial position.
'Please don't bring up my background as her [Megawati's] daughter here. What I have done all this time has proven [my] performance,' she said. '[People] should see the capacity and quality of a person.'
Siti, a NasDem Party politician and a former Home Ministry secretary-general said she was well qualified for her job.
Citing her educational record--a doctorate degree in natural resources planning and a postgraduate degree in rural and land ecology, Siti dismissed criticism raised by the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (W), which questioned her capacity to deal with environmental issues.
'We should look at the Cabinet as a whole package. You should not look at it based on a case-by-case judgement. He [Jokowi] did the math and weighed up carefully the combination of all ministries,' she said.
Jokowi was more than an hour late in announcing the Cabinet lineup, prompting more speculation about last-minute political lobbying, which resulted in a number of strong candidates like Luhut Panjaitan, former TNI commander Gen. (ret) Wiranto and PDI-P politician Hasto Kristiyanto being dropped from the final lineup.
Commenting on Jokowi's Cabinet Arie Sudjito, political analyst from Gadjah Mada University, said the lineup reflected a compromise between picking ideal figures and political reality.
'Some of the figures do not meet the public's expectations. However, we should give them a chance to prove that they can work to translate Jokowi's vision into an effective agenda and programs in their respective ministries,' Arie said.
Arie added that Jokowi should not be hesitant about reshuffling the Cabinet if some members of his Cabinet failed to live up to his expectations.
Indonesian Civil Society Circle political analyst Ray Rangkuti said he was not impressed by the new Cabinet 'The score for the 'Working Cabinet' is six out of 10,' he said.
Ray said that Jokowi was under tremendous political pressure when forming his Cabinet and that he was aware of the dissatisfaction with it.
'There is a potential for a reshuffle after one year, as we can see that politics have stood in the way of forming a professional Cabinet,' he said.
Gerindra Party secretary-general Ahmad Muzani said the new Cabinet could soon run into trouble because of the presence of unqualified ministers.
'Although Jokowi has carefully chosen his Cabinet members, it still has not lived up to the public's high expectations, and this will create a burden [for the new government] in the future,' he said.
Another surprise was the appointment of Retno Marsudi as foreign minister who had not been widely tipped as a strong candidate.
Retno said she would discuss a number of programs after the first Cabinet meeting. 'After the inauguration of the Cabinet lineup there will be no other words than 'work and work',' she said.
Retno, who is a career diplomat, said she was contacted by former deputy of the Jokowi-JK transition team Andi Widjajanto on Oct. 18 and met President Jokowi on Monday night.
'On Saturday at 6 p.m. The Hague time I was phoned by Andi asking me to meet Pak Jokowi immediately. I tried to get a ticket that night. On Monday afternoon, I arrived in Jakarta. At 5:15 p.m. Andi phoned me again to meet the President at midnight on Monday,' said Retno, who spent most of her career dealing with North American and European issues.
Retno is the first woman to hold the post of foreign minister.
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