The Jakarta Post
After two years watching several of his ministers bicker and expose their policy differences to the public, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo told his newly reformed Cabinet on Wednesday that all ministers had to work as a team and that they only reported to him.
“The first thing I want to say, especially to new ministers, there’s no such thing as a vision or mission of a minister, we only have the vision and mission of the President and Vice President. All ministers must follow the vision and mission that we outline and all policies decided during either plenary or limited Cabinet meetings,” Jokowi said in his opening remarks to the meeting.
Speaking in the first Cabinet meeting after the reshuffle, Jokowi also said that he was fully in charge and that ministers should not take initiatives on issues not decided by him.
Four hours before giving the warning, President Jokowi announced his new Cabinet line-up, which included nine new faces.
The new faces in the Cabinet are Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration Minister Eko Putro Sanjoyo, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi, Culture and Education Minister Muhadjir Effendy, Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita, Trade Minister Airlangga Hartarto, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Archandra Tahar and Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister Asman Abnur.
While the chief objective of the latest Cabinet shake-up was to accommodate the demands of political parties in his ruling coalition, especially the Golkar and National Mandate (PAN) parties, which only recently joined his government, many view the reshuffle as an effort by Jokowi to bring order to his Cabinet.
The dismissals of outgoing coordinating maritime affairs minister Rizal Ramli, energy and mineral resources minister Sudirman Said and transportation minister Ignasius Jonan have been seen as punishment for their penchant for publicly airing their policy disagreements and making controversial statements.
Sudirman had engaged in a string of tussles with then coordinating political, legal and security affairs minister Luhut Pandjaitan and Rizal.
Sudirman and Rizal engaged in a bitter seven-month spat over the Masela gas block development, which ended only after Jokowi decided to back Rizal’s proposal to build an onshore liquefied national gas (LNG) plant.
Rizal started a fresh controversy recently by picking a fight with Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama over the Jakarta Bay reclamation project. Rizal insisted on terminating the development of Islet G off the coast of North Jakarta, while Ahok has insisted that the project is legal and in line with a 1995 decree, which Rizal claimed to be now void.
Jonan, meanwhile, was in the spotlight for decisions that many deemed as laying stumbling blocks for Jokowi’s pet project, the high-speed railway project between Jakarta and Bandung, West Java.
Jonan initially refused to issue the building permit for the company developing the railway, PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC), arguing that it had not submitted the required documents. Jonan even
declined to attend the ground-breaking ceremony for the project in January this year.
In his speech to the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Jokowi did not mention Jonan by name but he had a stinging rebuke for his former minister. “If a decision has been taken in a Cabinet meeting, then ministers should be of one voice and give their full support. They must consistently implement the decision and should not take their own initiatives, especially on issues that I have issued presidential regulations,” he said.
Jokowi issued on Oct. 6, 2015 a presidential regulation to expedite the construction of the railway project.
Meanwhile, former administrative and bureaucratic reform minister Yuddy Chrisnandi was shown the door in all likelihood for some of the controversial decisions made during his brief tenure, including his decision to issue his ministry’s annual government institution performance review, which showed his ministry to be among the best-performing government institutions.
The President ignored the finding and insisted that only he had the authority to judge the performance of ministers.
Many, however, questioned Jokowi’s decision to sack culture and education minister Anies Baswedan, whom analysts considered to be one of the most competent ministers in the Cabinet.
Political analyst Arya Fernandes from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said Anies has been used as a sacrificial lamb in the effort to meet the demands of political parties.
“His ministry is in the top five, but he was removed. Jokowi needed to accommodate the demands of political parties and he needed to do that with the least amount of resistance,” Arya said.
Political observer Arie Sujito of Gadjah Mada University said that the latest Cabinet reshuffle would test Jokowi’s leadership skills even more.
“The heavier challenge is that the second reshuffle should deliver better results and introduce more policy breakthroughs,” Arie said.
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