Indonesia’s President Jokowi Preserves Modest Clout in Cabinet

Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s second-term cabinet is a mixture of old and new faces, professionals and politicians — including his bitter rival in the April presidential election. Jokowi, as the president is known, said the new cabinet will focus on three main things; the development of human resources, job creation and empowerment of small and micro enterprises.

Going into the October 20 inauguration for his second term, the president, whose power base is fragile, had appeared isolated and at the mercy of the Indonesian aristocracy which includes Megawati Sukarnoputri, the head of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P, who has made no bones about her uncontested leadership of the party and over the president, who she doesn't care much for in any case, and who was expected to use her influence to make the cabinet more hers than the president’s.

That was no more demonstrated than by his acquiescence into letting a bill go into law emasculating the powerful Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) prior to his inauguration. Political analysts regarded that as a harbinger of his loss of power and raised concerns about his own integrity. But as Indonesia often goes, there are no clear answers.

Of the 34 ministers and four ministerial-level positions announced on Wednesday, 22 are from professional ranks and 16 from political parties.

After the dust settled, it looks like Jokowi retained the top positions he wanted, including Coordinating Political Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD, the former Constitutional Court chief justice, who was a top choice for Jokowi as vice president before Mahfud was dropped in favor of influential Islamist Ma’ruf Amin in an effort to blunt suspicions of his religious credentials.

He also picked the Harvard-educated founder of the ride-hailing company Gojek, Nadiem Makarim, to the post of Culture and Education Minister. Nadiem is a rising star who gave up his position as CEO of the company, a media darling in Indonesia although fixing Indonesia’s disastrous education system will challenge him. Erick Thohir, named to the state-owned enterprises portfolio, is described as a sometimes ethically challenged hard charger, a former owner of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team in the US but the ministry he takes over is believed to be mired so deeply in debt, corruption and mismanagement that managing it will be equally problematic

Jokowi and coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, who held that portfolio in Jokowi’s first-term cabinet but added investment, are close allies. The investment portfolio raises his profile. Sri Mulyani Indrawati, the highly respected finance minister, also retains her position, a welcome signal to investors despite rising concerns over endemic corruption and oligarchic control of the country.

The appointment of Prabowo Subianto, chairman of the Gerindra Party and ex-army general accused of human rights abuses, as defense minister, is a depressing example of Jokowi's diminished presidential influence. The appointment stirred anger among Indonesian rank and file citizens. But Megawati and Prabowo, who ran together in 2005, have mended fences and remain allies in what appears to be utter disregard of the rising awareness and political aspirations of the country's 320 million population.

In addition, Susi Pudjastuti, the tough minister of maritime affairs and fisheries, who played an integral role in maintaining the integrity of Indonesian coastal waters, has been removed and replaced by Edhy Prabowo, the deputy chairman of Prabowo’s Gerindra Party and a close Prabowo ally from the military.

Apparently at Megawati’s insistence, Agus Yudhoyono, the son of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was shut out along with all members of SBY’s Democrat Party, putting a chill on Agus’s political career despite SBY’s lobbying for his son.

With the former special forces general Prabowo in the defense ministry, Indonesia is predicted to face various security challenges such as radicalism and terrorism and the threat of Papuan disintegration. However, a concern is the rise of political Islam after the presidential election, which is driven by Islamists including the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), both of which supported Prabowo who nonetheless has few scruples, religious or otherwise.

In addition to the Democratic Party, two other parties that were ignored are National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). They supported Prabowo in the presidential election. Jokowi thus supported 76.52 percent of the total seats in parliament.

Jokowi also did not appoint members from other supporting parties as ministers such as the Perindo Party led by Hary Tanoesoedibjo and the Indonesian Socialist Party (PSI). Perindo previously proposed Hary's daughter, Angela to become one of the ministers.

Other coordinating ministers – top cabinet positions -- in addition to Luhut, are Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy. The three were also in Jokowi's first cabinet but with different positions or have additional function.

Several ministers in the first cabinet were also retained and hold the same position including State Secretary Pratikno, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi, Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna H. Laoly, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani, Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi, and Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya.

Sri Mulyani, Nurbaya and Basuki will collaborate with several other ministers in the economic sector under Coordinating Economic Minister including Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto, Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Minister Teten Masduki (former expert staff under Jokowi), Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah (PKB politician), Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo (NasDem politician), State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir (Jokowi’s former campaign team chairman), and Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil (NasDem Party politician).

Unlike the previous practice in which the religious ministry was headed by an Islamic figure, the new religious minister Fakhrul Razi is a former military deputy commander, a strong message concerning rising religious fervor, which Megawati in a strong speech in August called attention to.

Nadiem and Fakhrul will work under the Coordinating of the Human Development and Culture Minister together with several other ministers including Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Minister I Gusti Ayu Bintang Darmawati, Research and Technology and Higher Education Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro (former national development planning minister), Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto (former Gatot Subroto Army Hospital head), Social Affairs Minister Juliari Batubara (PDI-P politician), Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration Minister Abdul Halim Iskandar (PKB politician), and Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali (Golkar Party politician).

National Police Chief Tito Karnavian, who was once the chief of police in Papua and is known to have extensive knowledge related to terrorism, was appointed interior minister. Tito will work under the Coordinating Political Legal and Security Affairs Minister along with other ministers including the minister of communication and informatics Johnny G. Plate (Nasdem Party), Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister Tjahjo Kumolo (former home minister), police chief, army chief, foreign minister, defense minister and law and human rights minister.

Other ministers include Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Wishnutama Kusubandio (NET TV cofounder), Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Arifin Tasrif (former Indonesian ambassador to Japan), and the minister of transportation.

The president also appointed four other minister-level officials namely Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, Investment Coordinating Board chief Bahlil Lahadalia (Indonesian Young Entrepreneurs Association chairman), Attorney General ST Burhanuddin (former deputy attorney general for civil and state administrative court affairs).

Jokowi closed the announcement by warning against corruption and urged focus on duties and responsibilities, hard work and productiveness. "Finally, all must work seriously. If not serious, be careful because I will fire you in the middle of your term," Jokowi said.

Five Major Platforms

In his inauguration speech, Jokowi mentioned five plans for his second term, of which the main focus was on economic progress and thus needed political and economic stability. "First, the development of human resources will be our main priority, building a workforce that is hard-working, dynamic, skilled, with a mastery in science and technology, [as well as] inviting global talents to work together with us.

Second, he said, he will continue infrastructure construction intended to connect production areas to distribution areas, facilitate access to tourist areas, boost new employment, and accelerate the added value of the people's economy.

"Third, we must simplify, cut down on and trim all forms of obstructive regulation. The government will invite the House of Representatives to pass two big laws – first, a job creation law and, second, a small and medium enterprises empowerment law," He said.

Fourth, he will seek to continue to massively simplify the bureaucracy. "Investment to create jobs must be prioritized. Long procedures must be cut down. Convoluted bureaucracy must be trimmed," He said.

The fifth is economic transformation. "We have to transform from a dependence on natural resources to a competitive and modern manufacturing and service-based economy that has high added value for the prosperity of the nation and social justice for all the Indonesian people," He said.

He said Indonesia had ambitions to escape the middle-income trap by 2045 with becoming an advanced country with an annual income of Rp320 million per capita or a monthly income of Rp27 million. "Our dream is that by 2045, Indonesia’s gross domestic product will have reached US$7 trillion. Indonesia will have become one of the top five world economies with a poverty rate nearing zero percent," He added.

Indonesia, he said, is at the peak of the demographic bonus, where the productive-aged population far outnumber the non-productive. "This could be a big problem if we cannot provide jobs, but it will be a big opportunity if we are able to develop superior human resources, supported by an advantageous political and economic ecosystem," he said.