Carlos K.Y. Paath, Jakarta – Prabowo Subianto has denied reports that he would forgo his ministerial salary and decline the use of state facilities, including an official vehicle and residence.
"I don't know where [the information] came from. Why would I not accept my salary? I will accept my salary and use it for the best cause," the newly appointed defense minister told journalists at the State Palace in Jakarta on Thursday.
However, it was Prabowo's own spokesman, Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, who tweeted about the former Army general's generosity and sense of nationalism just a day earlier.
"I would like to confirm to all my friends, especially journalists, that information stating that Mr. @prabowo will never take his salary as defense minister is TRUE. From the start, since entering politics, he has been committed to serving his country and his nation," Dahnil tweeted.
In addition to his salary, Prabowo also confirmed that he would indeed be using an official vehicle and residence – benefits to which he is entitled as minister. "Sure, I will use them," he said.
It did not take long for the report to reach Dahnil. "To all my friends, upon receiving information from the Ministry of Defense that the salary and other benefits must be accepted, Mr. @prabowo must accordingly obey the rules and he will accept them, but he will be channeling it to the cancer foundation, charity foundation, places of worship and others," he said in a second tweet on the matter.
Prabowo, who ran against Joko "Jokowi" Widodo in two presidential elections, was surprisingly appointed as defense minister last week. This became the focus of media attention, given how hard some of Jokowi's close aides had campaigned against him. They included Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who during the campaign released a list of reasons people should vote for Jokowi and avoid Prabowo.
But Prabowo and Sri Mulyani seem to have buried the hatchet; they were seen in a somewhat intimate conversation before Thursday's cabinet meeting at the State Palace. The finance minister even asked him to pose with her for a selfie, but the president entered the room before they had time to do it.
When reporters asked Prabowo about it later, he half-jokingly responded by saying: "Of course I must get along well with her, she is the finance minister."
Sri Mulyani earlier stated that she did not have any objections to Prabowo's inclusion in the cabinet. "No problem with that, because we are here to work under the leadership of Mr. President," she said last week.