Tag: Wiranto

Jokowi Reshuffle Accommodates Political Parties

 

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

(BKPM)

5. Wiranto, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister

6. Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Finance Minister

7. Eko Putro Sandjoyo, Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration

Minister

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

Indonesia’s future held hostage by old guard

It is a belief shared by many that political parties are a necessity for democracy to function. However, political parties and politicians generally have a reputation for forgetting their campaign promises as soon as they get people’s votes.

A political party is supposed to be a fertile ground for grooming  a nation’s future leaders, but this seems to be a pipe-dream in a country where politicians resort to corruption in order to “get back” what they have spent to be where they are.

Politics is not a cheap business and most major political parties in Indonesia remain dominated by old money with ties to Soeharto’s corrupt new order era.

President Joko Widodo rose to political prominence because he was seen as “a breath of fresh air” in Indonesian politics and part of a new generation of politicians with no connection to political aristocracy. “A new hope” was how Time magazine described Jokowi in its October 15 edition.

But things aren’t always what they seem. As it turns out, Jokowi has his hands tied, partly because he is not the main figure of his political party, PDI-Perjuangan.

It is widely believed that Jokowi is beholden to PDI-Perjuangan chairwoman Megawati Sukarnoputri, although few could have imagined the scale of her influence in the day-to-day running of the government.

The writings were on the wall when Megawati repeatedly alluded to him being “the skinny man” and “party officer”.

As if trying to show who the real boss is, Megawati refused to let Jokowi took the podium during a PDI-Perjuangan congress and hectored the party’s rank and file about their obligations as party functionaries, threatening to expel anyone refusing to toes the party line.

There’s not much Jokowi can do because he needs PDI-P’s support in parliament. But this does not bode well for Indonesia in the next four years.

The government’s lacklustre attempts at reform have prompted investors to adopt a “wait and see”attitude, while the rupiah continues to slide.

The Democratic Party is no different. Former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has just recently been re-elected as the party’s chairman.

The 65-year old retired general took over the party’s leadership from Anas Urbaningrum in 2013 after the latter was named a corruption suspect.

Co-founding the Democratic Party in 2001, SBY is considered as part of the old regime as he served in the military until he retired in 2000. “The thinking general,” as he has come to be known, served under the late president Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri before successfully running for president in 2004.

Yudhoyono’s re-election was considered inevitable, as the party struggled to look for a strong leader after several of its younger members, including Anas and former sports minister Andi Mallarangeng, were arrested for graft cases.

The other old guard politicians dominating politics in Indonesia include Prabowo Subianto, 65, Surya Paloh, 63, Aburizal Bakrie, 68, and ex-general Wiranto, also 68.

Dynasty politics is also very much alive today, spreading like disease from political parties to executives in the regions.

The 68-year old Megawati Sukarnoputri is grooming her daughter, Puan Maharani at the PDI-Perjuangan just as Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is grooming his son Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono at the Democrat party.

What they are doing is only inviting a wave of public cynicism.

This is a clear indication that the reform movement of 1998 was only successful in replacing Soeharto as president, but did not significantly change Indonesia’s political landscape.

Where do we go from here? We know it is almost impossible for young cadres to reach top positions in a political party while old figures with influence and money are still holding on to the command stick.

Young buds needs lots of sunshine to grow, and the old guard are just simply blocking it. Indonesia needs to move on and look for new leaders who can rise to the occasion.

Establishing a new political party is not cheap, and it will take a lot of work to make it popular. It would be wise, for the sake of injecting fresh blood, that the old generation of politicians to step aside and give the chance to the youth to start taking up the baton.

Barack Obama became president when he was 47. I am sure there are local Obamas who aspire to follow his path. It’s time that the old let some sunshine in.