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Jakarta Post

Wanted: Better Cabinet

  • Editorial Board

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, October 14, 2019   /   08:54 am
Wanted: Better Cabinet Gerindra Party patron Prabowo Subianto (left) and President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo pose for selfies at the State Palace on Friday. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo will begin his second term on Oct. 20 on shaky ground. Despite winning the majority of votes in the April presidential election and his political party, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), securing the largest number of seats in the House of Representatives, President Jokowi will be sworn in with a significant chunk of his political capital spent and exhausted after dealing with major political problems in the past six months.

From a worsening security and political situation in Papua to forest fires and student protests against the amendment of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) Law, the President has not only had to stave off resistance and opposition from the public but also from his own ruling coalition. It is a daily struggle that has distracted him from his key goals of driving economic growth, building more infrastructure and improving good governance.

Even without having to deal with new developments in domestic politics, things don’t appear so good for President Jokowi as he sets out to begin his second term. The trade war between the United States and China, and now against the European Union, has disrupted the world economy and slowed down global growth.

The World Bank estimated that the world economy would expand by only 2.6 percent this year, while the International Monetary Fund warned that trade wars could wipe US$455 billion off the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020. For this year, Bank Indonesia revised down its GDP projection from between 5.1 and 5.5 percent to between 5 and 5.4 percent.

Compounding the problem for Indonesia is that in the past year, there was very little in the way of governance as Jokowi devoted his time and energy to the campaign trail, fighting for reelection. Many in the business world complained that some decision-making over key policies had been put on hold, pending the election results and inauguration of poll winners. Consequently, key business players have taken a wait-and-see approach before committing to new investment.

Now that the dust has settled, President Jokowi needs to take quick action to make up for lost time, and one thing he could do is form a Cabinet that shows he means business and that Indonesia is once again open for

After securing reelection, Jokowi said he would appoint more figures from political parties to his Cabinet. This is not necessarily a bad idea, considering that some credible figures could come up or be nominated by political parties. We also should not lose hope after Jokowi met with political bigwigs, including Prabowo Subianto and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, with the prospect of giving members of their parties seats in the Cabinet.

We know very well that Prabowo and Yudhoyono could nominate some of their best people to join the next Cabinet and if they turn out to be political hacks, President Jokowi could turn them down and pick his own professionals. The stakes could not be higher for the second term.