Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is expected to reshuffle his cabinet again this week after the House of Representatives greenlighted the president's plan to reorganize the ministries, the President's close aide said on Tuesday.
Under the plan, the Research and Technology Ministry would merge with Education Ministry, terminating a seat in the cabinet currently held by Bambang Brodjonegoro. The president would also create Investment Ministry, a new entity that will replace the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM).
These shake-ups have prompted many political analysts to speculate that another cabinet reshuffle was imminent. On Tuesday, Ali Mochtar Ngabalin, expert staff at the Presidential Staff Office (KSP), confirmed that Jokowi was planning a cabinet reshuffle this week.
"If there is nothing gets in the way, it will be this week," Ngabalin said as quoted by BeritaSatu news website. "Or at least this Thursday we have got complete information," said Ngabalin.
Ngabalin said that President Jokowi often worked fast in making a decision, especially if he has obtained approval from the House. "Look, the precedents show that the President is quick to decide on approval from the House," he said.
While the President can appoint ministers, any change to ministries nomenclature must secure the House approval as it will alter the state budget.
Jokowi sent a letter to the House on March 30, asking for legislators' approval to merge the Research and Technology Ministry with the Education and Culture Ministry and create an Investment Ministry.
The House green-lighted the plan on April 8, clearing the way for the second reshuffle since Jokowi started his second term in 2019. The last reshuffle was less than four months ago when the president replaced six ministers – including then Health Minister Agus Terawan Putranto with Budi Gunadi Sadikin as a health minister – and added five new deputy ministers.
Research and Technology Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said that he would no longer be a minister but expected to see a transition period to ensure a smooth handover to the new ministry, called the Education, Culture, Research, and Technology Ministry.
"In essence, we hope that the transition period can be smooth so that it does not interfere with priority research agendas," Bambang said last week.
The merger would also affect the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), a governmental body established in 2019 and tasked with coordinating research initiatives across government institutions and state-owned enterprises.
Bambang has been advocating for keeping BRIN to remain with the research ministry. However, Jokowi's latest decision would mean that BRIN would become an autonomous body directly under the President, he said.
Observers said the merger also created an opportunity for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to appease Muhammadiyah, the second-largest Islamic organization in Indonesia after Nahdlatul Ulama (NU). Indonesia's presidents usually reserve education ministerial seats for Muhammadiyah and religious affairs minister seats for NU, recognizing the organizations' large follower and political influence.
Jokowi break away from the long-held tradition in 2019 by appointing start-up millionaire Nadiem Makarim, who co-founded the country's largest ride-hailing company Gojek Indonesia, as education minister.
According to M. Qodari, the executive director of political polling and research firm Indo Barometer, Muhammadiyah was offered a seat as the deputy minister at the time. "But that did not come through. Muhammadiyah was reportedly dissatisfied because Yaqut Cholil Qoumas from NU become religious affair minister," Qodari said.
Qodari said Abdul Mu'ti, Muhammadiyah secretary-general, was an ideal candidate to replace Nadiem, underlining the latter's experience in managing the organization that operates a wide range of schools from elementary to universities.
Abdul was actually offered a deputy minister position in December, but he said at the time that he must decline "after measuring his own abilities."
Others hoped Nadiem to remain at his current post. "Nadiem has the potential to innovate. But he has to keep learning because managing a non-profit ministry is different from the profit-oriented institution Nadiem worked on before," Suyanto, a professor at Yogyakarta State University (UNY), told Beritasatu.com on Tuesday.
For the investment minister post, KSP's Ngabalin said Jokowi was likely to stick with the current BKPM head, Bahlil Lahadalia. For one, it would be easier from an organizational perspective to change BKPM status to a ministry.
Ngabalin said that Jokowi was pleased with Bahlil Lahadalia's work during his tenure as BKPM head. Indonesia managed to buck the trend amid the Covid-19 pandemic that decimated foreign direct investments (FDI) in the Southeast Asia region.
The country attracted $7.7 billion in foreign direct investment last year, down 2.4 percent from 2019. In comparison, Southeast Asia's FDI fell 31 percent during the period.