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Multiple govt roles amassed by Luhut Pandjaitan criticized by DPR member

Tempo - May 25, 2022

Dewi Nurita, Riani Sanusi, Jakarta – The decision that was taken by President Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, in appointing the Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investments Luhut Pandjaitan to specifically handle the cooking oil fiasco garnered criticism from a member of the House of Representatives (DPR) Deddy Yevri Sitorus.

The legislator, who is also a PDIP politician, argues that the President may have not made a wise decision as the problems surrounding cooking oil scarcity and rising prices stem from issues that are overseen by the three state ministers, and appointing Luhut basically takes over the responsibilities of the Coordinating Minister of Economics, Minister of Trade, and Minister of Industries.

"This is taking over the work of three state ministers. Apart from increasing [Luhut Pandjaitan's] workload that is already stacking, it also gives the impression that Luhut is the only solution from the government and can potentially create disharmony among Cabinet members," Deddy wrote in a written statement on Tuesday, May 24.

He also fears that this move will create a mindset "as if there is nobody else that can do the job other than Luhut."

Apart from Pandjaitan's main job as the Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investments, he has also been appointed as the coordinator for the public mobility restriction (PPKM) in Java and Bali and chairperson of the national water resources council.

The DPR legislator also fears Luhut's appointment will give rise to a conflict of interest as he is known to have close ties with current individuals that are facing legal issues related to the cooking oil problem. Luhut was also once incriminated in another controversy after there were reports of a conflict of interest between him and the Covid-19 test services business.

"I'm worried that Luhut's close relationship with palm oil players will be a public discourse. It would be unfortunate if [Luhut Pandjaitan] becomes the subject of yet another rumor," he wrote.

According to Deddy, the solution to the cooking oil dilemma is actually a matter of enforcing consistent law enforcement and building a distribution system that does not give space to speculations, manipulation, and smuggling.

"The keyword is in the law enforcement process, it is the system and not the individual because there is a mechanism already set in place for that," Deddy explained.

The Maritime Affairs and Investments Coordinating Ministry's Deputy of Coordination, Septian Hario Seto, said Luhut Pandjaitan will not exceed his authority as a coordinating minister.

"We are here mainly to assist and not take over [any job]," said Seto.

Meanwhile, Maritime Affairs and Investments Coordinating Ministry spokesperson Jodi Mahardi said Luhut will only help manage the availability of cooking oil across Java and Bali, and that the nature of the President's instruction will mainly be a partnership between state ministries

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1594921/multiple-govt-roles-amassed-by-luhut-pandjaitan-criticized-by-dpr-membe