The Jakarta Post
Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto has topped a list of the five best-performing members of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's Cabinet in a recent survey by pollster Indo Barometer.
The survey, conducted between Oct. 10 and 17 and polling 1,200 people across the country, shows that Prabowo has the highest approval job rating among all of Jokowi's ministers and leaders of the executive branch at 29.3 percent.
Four other public officials with high approval ratings in the survey are Education Minister Nadiem Makarim (16.3 percent), Finance Minister Sri Mulyani (15.2 percent), State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Minister Erick Thohir (12.2 percent), and Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD (8.8 percent).
In the case of Prabowo, 22.5 percent of respondents praised his strong leadership, 19.1 percent approved of his uncompromising approach to decision-making and 11 percent commended his ability to maintain national security.
Meanwhile, 8.7 percent supported Prabowo’s policies, while 8.1 percent conveyed their approval of the minister’s problem-solving skills, the survey finds.
A February survey by Indo Barometer previously found that the Gerindra Party patron to be among the most well-known members of Jokowi’s second-term Cabinet.
A veteran in Indonesian politics, the former Army general and erstwhile rival of Jokowi in the 2019 presidential election initially raised eyebrows when his name came up as the President's pick for defense minister in October year.
Prabowo has had his fair share of controversies relating to his current post, including criticism surrounding his plan to purchase used jet fighters and highlighting his checkered military past.
In July, Prabowo was slammed for going ahead with a plan to purchase a batch of used Eurofighter Typhoon jet fighters from the Austrian air force, with critics questioning the quality of the aircraft and their huge maintenance costs.
The aircraft, critics claimed, belonged to an earlier generation of fighters and lacked the crucial equipment included in newer models, such as an infrared search and tracking system (IRST).
Prabowo's alleged past human rights abuse record came back into the spotlight when Washington decided to allow him entry to the United States for an official visit last month, lifting a two-decades-old travel ban.
As many as 12 civil society organizations voiced their objections over Prabowo's visit in a joint letter to US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, calling for Washington to revoke the diplomatic invitation if it included immunity for the crimes Prabowo had allegedly committed.
The US is believed to have blacklisted Prabowo for committing alleged human rights violations in East Timor and during the last days of the rule of then-president Soeharto in 1997-1998.
Human rights abuses have also led to the suspension of formal cooperation with the Indonesian Military (TNI) and especially the Army’s Special Forces Command (Kopassus). The ban on Kopassus was lifted in 2010.