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Jakarta Post

Jokowi’s leadership put to test

  • Ina Parlina and Haeril Halim

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, August 16, 2016   /  07:30 am
Jokowi’s leadership put to test Arcandra Tahar (left) - Luhut Pandjaitan (right) (Antara/JP)

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo officially dismissed on Monday Arcandra Tahar from his position as energy and mineral resources minister after serving just three weeks in the Cabinet, a move that has put Jokowi’s leadership skills into question.

Jokowi’s decision to sack Arcandra was made after the Law and Human Rights Ministry found that Arcandra had US citizenship after living in the superpower nation for the past 20 years.

The dismissal of Arcandra has again put in the spotlight Jokowi’s penchant for rushing into decisions without first thoroughly considering all options available to him.

His rushed decision to start the construction of the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail project has caused delays as the contractor for the project, PT Kereta Cepat Indonesia China (KCIC), has not yet secured clearance for the project from the relevant authorities.

His decision to name Rizal Ramli as coordinating maritime affairs minister raised eyebrows because Rizal was one of his most vocal critics and was later responsible for creating division within the Cabinet with his controversial statements. Jokowi sacked Rizal after only one year in the position.

In early 2015, Jokowi deferred from making any decision on the nomination of Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan as National Police chief, a move that led to a conflict between the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the police, which ended up with the prosecution of two senior leaders of the antigraft body.

Political analyst Ikrar Nusa Bakti of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) said Jokowi was responsible for the chaotic situation in his administration.

Ikrar said Jokowi should make sure that everything was under his control. “In the midst of the high public approval given to him, Jokowi should make himself well-informed before making any decisions in order to avoid controversies that prevent his administration from working properly,” he said.

He said the latest episode involving Arcandra showed how disorganized his aides were in dealing with administrative issues at the State Secretariat and Cabinet Secretary’s Office.

On Monday, the announcement of Arcandra’s fate was made by State Secretary Pratikno at around 9 p.m. at the Presidential Palace, after Jokowi retreated to Bogor Palace in West Java.

Pratikno said the decision was made after Jokowi “received information from various sources” and “had taken various dimensions into consideration”.

Jokowi has also appointed Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Luhut Pandjaitan as the interim minister at the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry until the President picks a replacement for Arcandra.

Earlier on Monday, Jokowi summoned Arcandra for a closed-door meeting at the palace. Unconfirmed media reports said Jokowi lashed out at Arcandra.

Separately, Presidential spokesman Johan Budi declined to confirm whether Jokowi felt cheated or if no one had briefed him about Arcandra’s dual citizenship in the first place.

Johan said “the President was being responsive to the problem raised [in the public].”

Johan was quick to add that the reason behind the dismissal was due to “maladministration”.

Early on Monday, Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly acknowledged that Arcandra held two passports.

“He has two passports: US and Indonesian passports,” Yasonna said on Monday.

However, he claimed that Arcandra’s Indonesian citizenship was still intact because it took a ministerial decree to officially revoke someone’s citizenship.

“Legally, there has been no Indonesian citizenship revocation process through the Law and Human Rights Ministry for the minister,” he said, adding that Arcandra had returned to Indonesia and had decided to give up his US citizenship.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said the government was working to settle the case, adding that it would take a while for President Jokowi’s administration to resolve the problem due to its complexity.

The chief security minister said the government would consider input from the public, especially from legal experts who have criticized the legality of Arcandra’s citizenship.

“The government is fully aware of the growing discourse in society [regarding Arcandra’s nationality]. We don’t want to rush. We are careful and we are digging further to find solutions that we will later explain to the public,” Wiranto told reporters.

Earlier, Wiranto summoned Arcandra to his office in Jakarta, where they held a closed-door meeting for about 15 minutes. (win)

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