Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s long-awaited cabinet reshuffle, presented today, on July 27, shows that the president is accommodating more political interests into his chain of command after continuing turmoil in the political scenery.
The biggest, and probably most encouraging, name in the reshuffle is Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who returned for another turn as Finance Minister after being driven out of the position in 2010.
Widely considered Indonesia’s most respected public servant at the time, Sri Mulyani joined the World Bank as deputy director. Jokowi, as the president is known, is said to have been seeking to woo her back for more than a year. Advance rumors of the decision to bring her back drove the Jakarta Stock Exchange up by 1.16 percent.
However, beyond that the reshuffle makes it look like politics is in command over reform. Several new names from political parties that used to sit in the opposition coalition such as Airlangga Hartarto from the Golkar party and Asman Abnur from the National Mandate party (PAN) signal that this is a political accommodation that will seek to help iron out opposition from the House of Representatives.
Beyond that, the appointments are considered to be a mixed bag, with several reformers out.
Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said, a reformer who kicked off a huge scandal last November with charges that Setya Novanto, the former House of Representatives Speaker, was attempting to shake down mining giant Freeport McMoRan, has been dropped from the cabinet. Along with Anies Baswedan, the former education minister and a widely respected academician, as well as Transport Minister Ignasius Jonan, Sudirman makes three nonpolitical reformers who have been dropped from the cabinet completely.
Another name that inspires little confidence is Wiranto, the 69-year- old former general accused of atrocities as commander of the Indonesian military from February 1998 to October of 1999 during the tumultuous period when the strongman Suharto fell from power. He ran unsuccessfully for president in 2004 and for vice president in 2009.
Bambang Brodjonegoro, whom Sri Mulyani replaces as finance minister, will move to the National Development Planning Ministry (Bappenas).
The sour experience of being in opposition over the past two years has pushed Golkar, once Indonesia’s most influential political party, to vow allegiance to Jokowi. Not only has Golkar officially quit the Red-and- White opposition camp and pledged its allegiance to Jokowi’s ruling coalition.
Although its newly elected chairman is Setya Novanto, accused of a string of alleged graft cases, this pledge should ensure stable and cordial relations between the government and the House.
Golkar, founded by Suharto more than half-a- century ago, had been split into two factions, led respectively by Aburizal Bakrie and Agung Laksono, following Bakrie’s insistence on keeping his leadership and opposing Jokowi’s administration after the 2014 presidential election.
While it is difficult to dismiss Jokowi and his inner-circle as playing the “invisible hands” in this encroachment on the autonomy of Golkar, the ruling coalition currently wields enormous power, having secured 69 percent of seats in the House of Representatives – up from 40 percent a year ago. Aside from Golkar, the coalition also recently received a boost from defecting opposition parties the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the National Development Party (PPP).
The full list of new cabinet members:
1. Luhut Pandjaitan, Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister
2. Bambang Brodjonegoro, National Development Planning Board (Bappenas)
3. Sofyan Djalil, Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister
4. Thomas Trikasih Lembong, head of the Investment Coordinating Board
5. Wiranto, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister
6. Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Finance Minister
7. Eko Putro Sandjoyo, Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration
8. Budi Karya Sumadi, Transportation Minister
9. Muhajir, Culture and Education Minister
10. Enggartiasto Lukita, Trade Minister
11. Airlangga Hartarto, Industry Minister
12. Archandra Tahar, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister
13. Asman Abnur, Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister