The Jakarta Post
The dust has not settled on the controversy surrounding Arcandra Tahar, the former energy and mineral resources minister, even though President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo decided to dismiss the man with honor on Monday night.
The State Palace was tight-lipped on information regarding Arcandra, who was accused of having both US and Indonesian passports. The government’s reticence to speak on the matter sent curious people, including journalists, to dig for information about the man, a little-known figure both in Indonesia and the US before his appointment to the Cabinet on July 27.
People wondered why the President picked Arcandra, 45, who was “a famous genius person in the US” according to a tweet sent out by AM Hendropriyono, a former Indonesian spy chief and a member of Jokowi’s campaign team in 2014.
Hendropriyono also said on his Twitter account @edo751945 that Arcandra left a high paying job in the US, "billions of rupiah a month" as he tweeted, for a mere Rp 40 million (US$3,000) a month as a minister in the Cabinet.
Some netizens investigated Arcandra’s company, Petroneering LLC in Houston, Texas, on Google, and found an entry on findthecompany.com, which describes Petroneering as: a small, fairly new organization in the business services industry located in Houston, Texas. It opened its doors in 2013 and now has an estimated $88,000 in yearly revenue and approximately two employees.
Petroneering is “a recognized leader among boutique offshore technology development and consulting firms,” according to its own website petroneering.com.
Arcandra’s Wikipedia entry in Indonesian was made immediately after he was appointed as minister and no English entry on him exists on the website. He is known as an offshore technology expert who graduated from Texas A&M University, sharing an alma mater with Darmawan Prasodjo, deputy chief of staff in Jokowi’s presidential office.
Arcandra, who was born in Padang, West Sumatra, has registered two patents under his own name for an invention in offshore structure and eight patents in collaboration with other colleagues.
Indoprogress.com writer Made Supriatma wrote about Arcandra on his Facebook account, saying that he couldn’t find an entry on Arcandra’s name in Forbes or Bloomberg. “His name didn’t show up because he didn’t manage a large company.”
“I don’t cast any doubt on his expertise in the oil industry, especially in the technical department. He has patented several inventions. But in America, patents are very common. You can patent an iron pad that can also clean the iron, for example. Nothing special about it,” wrote Made.
A Google search of his name also revealed his role as a teacher of Quran recitation in the Indonesian Muslim community in Houston. He wrote an opinion piece in The Jakarta Post in 2011 along with Darmawan Prasodjo and Erwinsyah Putra. The article addressed Arcandra’s role as a principal naval architect at the Horton Wison Deepwater facility in Houston. (evi/rin)
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