The week in review: Not such a good start
The Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
The new year has just begun, but politics in the republic has already been heating up. The heated environment was triggered by reports over a performance accountability report on government institutions filed by the Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry (available on the ministry's website: www.menpan.go.id).
The report lists the Attorney General's Office (AGO) as being among the 16 worst-performing government institutions last year, alongside the Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration Ministry, the Youth and Sports Ministry and the Manpower Ministry. The top four performing government institutions were the Finance Ministry, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry and the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK).
The ministry's report immediately drew mixed reactions from various quarters. While many among the public expressed support for the publication of the report amid a general drive for transparency and accountability of government institutions, strong protests and opposition were voiced by political parties whose cadres are ministers of the ministries named among the worst-performing government institutions, as well as political parties that are part of President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo's governing coalition.
The executive board of the National Awakening Party (PKB) announced on its Twitter account that 'only the President has the authority to evaluate the performance of Cabinet ministers'. The Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration Ministry, the Youth and Sports Ministry and the Manpower Ministry are led by PKB cadres.
Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, a politician of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), said 'such pressure [in the form of the performance review] is the creativity of 'professor' Yuddy'. Pramono was referring to Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister Yuddy Chrisnandi. Pramono also said that President Jokowi had never formally instructed Yuddy to conduct the performance review, which ranked Yuddy's own ministry as sixth-best performer.
Meanwhile, the executive board of the People's Conscience Party (Hanura) came out in support of fellow party member Yuddy, but regretted his or his ministry's decision to have the report published on its website rather than keeping it confidential.
Minister Yuddy defended himself, saying he and his ministry had merely carried out the instructions contained in Law No. 25/2009 on public service and Presidential Decree No. 29/2014 for a performance accountability report on government institutions. Paragraphs 3 and 4 of Article 7 of the 2009 law grant the Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry the authority to monitor and evaluate government institutions' performance and to publish reports on the results, as well. Meanwhile, Paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 31 of the 2014 presidential decree stipulate that the ministry should submit its monitoring and evaluation reports to the President.
Yuddy argued that his review assessed only the accountability of government institutions, not the performance of the ministers. He also said he had no political motives in publishing the ministry's report, though rival politicians have demanded his removal, citing poor performance.
Apart from the well-intended spirit of upholding transparency and accountability, there obviously are conflicting legal positions between the 2009 law and the 2014 presidential decree. And speaking about 'legal standing', in the legal hierarchy, a presidential decree is lower than a law. Therefore, the 2014 presidential decree must be declared void and not applicable, as it contradicts the 2009 law.
However, the 2009 law itself is controversial in nature, as it grants a ministry ' the Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry ' the authority to monitor, evaluate and grade government institutions, including other ministries, which are structurally equal in rank with the Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry. Such a stipulation is uncommon and hardly found in any countries worldwide, even in democracies.
Aside from the legal and ethical controversies of both the 2009 law and the 2014 presidential decree, the move by Minister Yuddy has indeed sparked speculation that it was not completely free from political motives, especially with media reports indicating that there would be a second Cabinet reshuffle after the first one last August. And despite Yuddy's claim that he had acted professionally with regards to the above two legal foundations, the report is believed by many to have something to do with the much-debated reshuffle.
Political brouhaha at home in the past week unfortunately coincided with a jittery global economy, as market turmoil in China spread around the world, with global investors growing more anxious about China's currency and the health of its economy. In the past week, Chinese stocks plunged by more than 7 percent on two days, forcing officials to halt trading, in the second case after just 29 minutes.
Despite the rupiah exchange rate displaying high volatility following China's intervention in the yuan, experts say no immediate threats were on the horizon after the rate fixing. ANZ Indonesia's head of markets Sonny Samuel said there was little chance that the latest yuan depreciation would send the rupiah tumbling as low as it had done in August.
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