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Indonesia's PDI-P objects to President-elect Prabowo's bigger Cabinet plan which critics say is unnecessary

Channel News Asia - May 14, 2024

Jakarta – The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) is opposing any moves by President-elect Prabowo Subianto's incoming administration to form a larger Cabinet with new state ministries.

PDI-P Secretary-General Hasto Kristiyanto said the party will object to any plan to get parliament to amend the law concerning the maximum number of ministries every Indonesian government can form.

"The goal of forming every ministry is to achieve the objectives of the state, and not for accommodating to political forces," said Mr Hasto as quoted by CNN Indonesia on Monday (May 13).

PDI-P is the current ruling party, and is set to make way for Mr Prabowo's coalition following his presidential inauguration on Oct 20. PDI-P is set to hold a national working meeting next week to decide whether to join the coalition or be in the opposition camp.

PDI-P's public opposition follows reports that President-elect Prabowo plans to restructure and reorganise his upcoming Cabinet by increasing the number of ministries from 34 to over 40.

The plan requires an amendment to a law which states that the government shall have no more than 34 ministries.

Since his landslide victory in the February presidential election, Mr Prabowo has repeatedly expressed his intention to form a much bigger Cabinet in his bid to ensure a more stable government comprising members from other parties in his grand coalition.

Four parties including Mr Prabowo's Gerindra, Golkar, National Mandate Party and the Democratic Party declared soon after the election that they would join the former general's Advanced Indonesia Coalition.

Two more – NasDem Party and National Awakening Party – joined the club in April after the elections commission formally declared Mr Prabowo and his running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka as the official winners of the election.

Gerindra Secretary General Ahmad Muzani has said the current law limiting the number of ministries to be formed needs to be amended as it is rigid and not responsive enough to address new challenges faced by the incoming government.

"Every president has different policies; hence, they always change the names and structures of the ministries to fulfil their respective agendas. The law must be flexible regarding the number and names of the ministries," said Mr Muzani as reported by local media.

He said the amendment to the law might happen before Mr Prabowo's inauguration on Oct 20.Some observers note that a bigger Cabinet is part of Mr Prabowo's attempt to facilitate his incoming government's ability to fulfil its election promises, including the provision of a free lunch initiative.

However, critics such as constitutional law expert Bivitri Susanti as quoted by Kompas.com have described it as pork-barrel politics between Mr Prabowo and the political parties that supported him during the election.

Former vice-president Jusuf Kalla, who endorsed defeated presidential candidate Anies Baswedan, also cautioned against the "politicisation" of expanded ministerial positions in the Cabinet.

He instead urged for greater focus on the implementation of government programmes and not the number of Cabinet positions.

PDI-P's defeated presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo has also raised concerns that the planned expansion could be a means for Mr Prabowo to reward allies with political patronage through Cabinet positions.

Observers have noted that Mr Prabowo may not face any serious obstacles to amending the law, considering the supermajority status his coalition is likely to have in parliament.

So far, the only parties likely to end up in opposition to the Prabowo government are PDI-P and the conservative-leaning Islamist Prosperous Justice Party (PKS). Both parties are likely to control about 28 per cent of parliamentary seats.

According to observers, other than amending the law in parliament, Mr Prabowo can also get his way by issuing what is known as a Government Regulation in Lieu of Law (Perppu).

Observers stated that Perppu can be issued in certain emergencies where a new law can be implemented without going through the legislative process.

Source: https://www.channelnewsasia.com/asia/indonesia-pdip-object-president-elect-prabowo-bigger-cabinet-plan-433418