The Constitutional Court (MK) has said that deputy ministers cannot hold concurrent roles at state-owned and private firms, arguing that they should focus on their main duties in their respective ministerial offices.
The nine-justice bench declared its stance on the issue as it read out the final ruling on a judicial review petition challenging Article 10 of a 2008 law on state ministries filed by Bayu Segara from the Forum of Legal and Constitutional Studies (FKHK) and Novan Lailathul Rizky from Sahid Jakarta University.
The plaintiffs demanded that the court revoke the article, which allows the president to appoint deputy ministers, as they deemed it to be "unconstitutional".
The court rejected the petition on Thursday on the grounds that the plaintiffs did not have legal standing, but it did highlight the petitioners' argument over the absence of a regulation that bans deputy ministers from holding concurrent roles as commissioners or members of board of directors at state-owned or private firms.
“Even if deputy ministers only give assistance to ministers in delivering ministerial duties, the appointment and the dismissal of deputy ministers are within the president's prerogative rights, the same as that of ministers," the court said in its ruling dossier.
"Deputy ministers should, therefore, be treated equally as state officials who carry the same status, like ministers. With such a status, all provisions prohibiting ministers from serving dual roles under Article 23 of the 2008 law should also apply to deputy ministers.”
The court argued that it was necessary so that deputy ministers could "focus on their ministerial duties”.
Some deputy ministers in President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration are known to have concurrent roles at state-owned enterprises.
For example, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, a deputy for the State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) minister, is also a vice president commissioner of state oil and gas holding company PT Pertamina.
Another SOE deputy minister, Kartika “Tiko” Wirjoatmodjo, also serves as president commissioner of state-owned Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BRI).
Deputy Finance Minister Suahasil Nazara is also known as the current vice president commissioner of state-owned electricity firm PT PLN.
In response to the court's statement, SOE Minister Erick Thohir said he would further discuss the matter with other ministries, including the Law and Human Right Ministry.
“I don’t know the details yet, but I will study the matter," Erick said, adding that the court's stance over the issue was not part of its ruling that rejected the plaintiffs' request.
Erick, however, defended deputy ministers and said they had the capabilities needed by the ministry.
“I think of our deputy ministers as warriors and we don’t really think of their dual roles,” he said as quoted by tempo.co.