Jakarta – Setara Institute for Peace and Democracy National Council Chairperson Hendardi says that the reshuffle of the Indonesia Onward Cabinet on Monday July 17 is the worst kind of political display at the end of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's last term in office.
"The filling of the ministerial and deputy ministerial posts along with two Wantimpres [Presidential Advisory Board] officials is one of the worst reshuffles and political displays [yet] by Jokowi at the end of his term in office", said Hendardi in a statement on Tuesday July 18.
Hendardi believes this because Widodo did not appoint a new communication and information minister with the capacity or a track record in fields related to the Communication and Information Ministry (Kemenkominfo).
"Instead of finding a minister with competence and integrity as an antithesis of the previous minister, Jokowi in fact appointed a figure who has no capacity or track record in the fields need by the Kemenkominfo", he said.
He also highlighted other individuals appointed by the president to fill government posts during the cabinet reshuffle. According to Hendardi, Widodo chose these people so that he could realise his personal ambitions and for a handful of groups close to him.
"The figures filling these new posts are Jokowi's people who are an extension of his influence and to realise his personal desires and those of his groups", he said.
Hendardi claimed not to see the reshuffle as a representation of the coalition parties, which should have been considered in a healthy way, but instead was a waste of his final term in office and nothing more than a consolidation of political capital.
"For the elections, as a bridge of power for the groups Jokowi's been nurturing, including protecting the political interests of his family. The prerogative rights attached to Jokowi have been carried out procedurally in a valid manner but will not bring any benefits to the republic", he said.
Yet, he said, the time or remainder of his term in office could have been used to create justice and welfare for the ordinary people. He believes that Widodo is making preparations for matters related to his family and the political parties.
"(Jokowi) is not just busy preparing his children to continue his desire for power, but also preparing cross-political party groups he's nurtured that can be used as protectors after he has ended his term in office", said Hendardi.
CNN Indonesia has contacted Presidential Staff Office (KSP) expert staff member Ali Mochtar Ngabalin and State Secretary Ministry special staffer Faldo Maldini for a response to Setara's criticisms, but neither have responded as of this article being published.
During the reshuffle this time round, Widodo inaugurated a new minister, five deputy ministers (wamen) and two Presidential Advisory Board members at the State Palace.
Those that were inaugurated at the Palace yesterday included Budi Arie Setiadi, the head of the pro-Jokowi volunteer group Projo, as Communication and Information Minister, replacing Johnny G Plate who has been indicted on corruption charges.
Paiman Raharjo was inaugurated as the new Deputy Minister for Villages, Underdeveloped Regions and Transmigration (Wamendes PDTT), filling the position left vacant by Setiadi.
Then the position of Deputy Communication and Information Minister was filled by Nezar Patria, and Pahala Mansury became the Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister.
Next, the post of State-Owned Enterprises Deputy Minister (Wamen BUMN) was taken by Rosan Roeslani and the position of Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs by Saiful Rahmat Dasuki, replacing Zainut Tauhid Sa'adi.
Aside from the deputy ministers, on the same day Widodo inaugurated two Presidential Advisory Board members, namely Djan Farid and Gandi Sulistiyanto.
Following the reshuffle at the Palace, Widodo did not give any clear reasons for choosing Setiadi as the Communication and Information minister. He only said that in the one-and-a-half years remaining for his administration, the 4G base transceiver station (BTS) project will be continued by the ministry.
"One-and-a-half years or less, so I want first of all, the Kemenkominfo to finish the BTS, that must be prioritised, the resolution of the legal [case against Plate], let it proceed, we will respect the legal process", said Widodo at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Monday July 17.
Widodo said that does not want the project to be abandoned because it involves services for 3T regions (boarder, remote and disadvantaged), and that the completion of the project would be a tough task for Setiadi.
Setiadi will be assisted by Patria as the deputy minister. Widodo said that Patria is a figure who has experience in the media industry and state-owned enterprises so it is hoped that he can help Setiadi.
Setiadi himself stated that he fully accepts the responsibility associated with the job as Communication and Information Minister because it is a direct order and a sign of trust by the president.
"Yes, actually we're soldiers, right, we're pawns ready to go anywhere. We're like pawns, right, our duty is to move forward, just move forward like that. What is certain is that we are ready and determined to perform and be secure because for us, with this extraordinary trust, we cannot disappoint Pak [Mr] President Joko Widodo", said Setiadi in a CNN Indonesia TV interview at the Ligamas Indah Complex in Pancoran, South Jakarta, on Monday July 17. (psr/chs)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Setara Institute: Reshuffle Kabinet Jokowi Peragaan Politik Terburuk".]