Budi Sutrisno, Jakarta – Ever since President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo named his expert staff team last year, the wait has been on for the millennial members of the team come up with what Jokowi hoped would be "out-of-the-box ideas" and "leaping breakthroughs" to support the programs of his second and final term in office.
But one year into office, the staff members' performance have instead been met with voices of disappointment, with critics highlighting their lack of significant contributions to the Jokowi administration and a series of controversies surrounding them.
In the latest case, a member of Jokowi's millennial staff, Aminuddin Ma'ruf, caught flak after issuing a letter "ordering" the Student Executive Council of the State Islamic Religious College (DEMA PTKIN) to send representatives for a discussion related to the controversial Job Creation Law at the Executive Office of the President last week.
The order was beyond Aminuddin's authority, according to Indonesian Ombudsman commissioner Adrianus Meliala, who said the President's special staff and DEMA PTKIN shared equal positions and the former did not have the executive authority to issue any instructions.
Those authorized to issue instructions or assignment letters were working unit chiefs, not members of the special staff, and they were administratively responsible to the Cabinet Secretariat, as stipulated in Presidential Regulation No. 39/2018, he said.
In response to the criticism, Aminuddin said the letter was only for internal use and was already in accordance with the standard operating procedures of the Presidential Palace compound for inviting guests.
Previously, another original member of Jokowi's millennial staff, Andi Taufan Garuda Putra, was also said to have violated correspondence procedures after he sent a letter to district heads across Indonesia to support a COVID-19 relief program led by PT Amartha Mikro Fintek, a fintech lending startup that he owns.
He resigned from his position on April 24 following the controversy.
These repeated blunders indicated that the special staff did not understand the working procedures of government agencies or institutions, as well as the general principles of good governance, Adrianus said.
"The staff are meant to be the President's think tank. They must be competent and knowledgeable in various ways. If they don't even understand the government's administrative matters, their quality as think-tankers is questionable," he told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
The Indonesian Ombudsman called on the President to conduct an evaluation regarding the presence and functions of the millennial staffers and issued a warning to prevent similar incidents in the future.
"The special staff should have a concrete role and give a positive image to the President, not the other way around," said Adrianus.
Separately, Parameter Politik Indonesia executive director and political analyst Adi Prayitno said Jokowi's millennial staff were "not credible", arguing that the controversies made by some of the members had been detrimental to the President's image.
"These controversies happen repeatedly. Sooner or later the President will become the target of criticism only because of such unsatisfactory performances of his staffers," Adi told the Post.
He went on to say that Jokowi should evaluate his millennial staffers and replace them, if necessary. "These incidents show that they are not mature enough to be assistants to the President. They deserve to be evaluated."
Aminuddin and Andi were among seven people appointed to what is dubbed Jokowi's millennial expert team in late November last year.
Besides Andi, staffer Adamas Belva Devara also resigned from his position on April 21 after facing public backlash over conflicts of interest following the naming of education technology start-up Ruangguru, which he cofounded, as one of the government's eight partners in the pre-employment card program.
Two other millennial staffers, social entrepreneur Angkie Yudistia and education activist Billy Mambrasar, have also come under scrutiny for different cases since their appointments.
Angkie was criticized after posting false information about coronavirus detection on her Instagram account in March, while Billy was publicly condemned after posting a tweet that demeaned the government's opposition in November last year.