The Executive Office of the President has confirmed that a Cabinet reshuffle is soon to take place amid rampant speculation surrounding President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s possible course of action in the wake of graft cases involving two of his ministers, as well as the stream of criticism regarding the country’s pandemic mitigation.
Donny Gahral Adian, a leading expert at the office, said the shake-up would take place in the near future. However, he stopped short of disclosing any specific date of the anticipated move.
“I can only say that it is imminent,” Donny said on Tuesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
He went on to say that Jokowi had been in close contact with several prominent figures rumored as prospective candidates for the upcoming reshuffle.
“Anything can happen. We shall leave everything to the President’s prerogative,” Donny said, adding that those assigned to the ministerial posts would be the country’s best and brightest.
Responding to the reshuffle rumors, Presidential Secretariat head Heru Budi Hartanto said his office was currently arranging a meeting with ministerial candidates in accordance with Jokowi’s schedule and that there was still no fixed date for the event.
“There has yet to be a schedule for [the meeting with] the ministerial candidates,” Heru told the press.
Speculation regarding a reshuffle was rife amid public criticisms leveled at Jokowi administration’s lackluster pandemic response and the arrest of two ministers.
Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo of the Gerindra Party and Social Affairs Minister Juliari Batubara of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) were recently arrested by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on graft charges.
In late June, Jokowi warned his ministers that he would take “extraordinary steps”, including a shake-up, should they fail to take the COVID-19 crisis seriously.
Last month, in an interview with Kompas TV, Jokowi said he would reshape his Cabinet whenever necessary. “It could happen next week, next month or next year,” he said.
In June, Jokowi criticized the Health Ministry twice for its low spending in the health sector during the country’s struggle to contain COVID-19.
The ministry is led by Terawan Agus Putranto who has been embroiled in a series of controversies since the beginning of the country’s outbreak. He has also been widely criticized for poor communication skills.
Experts have called for a Cabinet specifically configured for present and future public health endeavors.
“I hope the future Cabinet will be able to focus on public health, while business and political interests exist on the sidelines,” University of Indonesia public health professor Ascobat Gani told the Post. (rfa)