Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja, Jakarta – Former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, is set to make a comeback to public office, more than two years after he was convicted of blasphemy.
He has been touted to take up the role of president commissioner of state oil and gas company Pertamina, one of the country's most strategic state-owned enterprises (SOE) that has often been plagued by inefficiency and corruption.
President Joko Widodo's government is currently selecting leaders to help reform the active SOE sector, which has played an important role in the economy, although some quarters have said the country's SOEs have crowded out private investment.
Other figures who may fill the top posts at SOEs include former anti-graft commissioner Chandra Hamzah, who may be appointed as president commissioner to help keep watch over state-owned Bank Tabungan Negara, and former communications and information minister Rudiantara, who may serve as the president director of state power company PLN.
Corporate organisational layout in Indonesia differs slightly from that in many other countries. Indonesian companies have what is locally termed as the Board of Commissioners (BOC). Chaired by a President Commissioner, the BOC supervises management policies and advises the Board of Directors (BOD).
The chief executive officer, referred to as the president director in Indonesia, chairs the BOD which is mostly responsible for the company's management and operations.
The SOE ministry, which oversees Indonesia's 115 state-owned and state-controlled companies, is currently doing an internal restructuring to streamline bureaucracy.
Earlier this week, newly appointed SOE Minister Erick Thohir scrapped six senior assistant to minister positions, which had the role of supervising the different SOEs operating in sectors that range from transportation, finance and service, to construction.
The latest move would pave the way for the supervision of the SOEs to be shifted from the ministry to each of the SOEs' Board of Commissioners, which would have greater authority and veto powers over key strategic decisions taken by the Board of Directors.
Mr Basuki battled corruption and improved healthcare when he was Jakarta governor between 2014 and 2017. Under his leadership, the city administration had the most transparent annual spending budget system, making detailed spending items accessible online, allowing the public to help monitor and make early detection of any irregular spending plan.
But known for his blunt remarks and unforgiving attitude towards underperforming civil servants while in office, Mr Basuki has faced resistance from the head of Pertamina employees' association, Mr Arie Gumilar, who claimed that Mr Basuki would demoralise employees and in turn affect the distribution of petrol to fuelling stations, which is one of Pertamina's main tasks.
Mr Basuki, an ethnic-Chinese Christian who is a political ally of Mr Joko, was accused by political opponents of blasphemy after he made a speech in September 2016 that referred to a Quranic verse, arguing that the verse had been misused to deceive Jakarta residents into voting against him. He was convicted and later sentenced to two years' jail in 2017 for blasphemy.
For now, Mr Basuki has taken lightly the resistance by a group of Pertamina employees, saying that it is normal.
"In life, you cannot have 100 per cent of the people agree with you. Even God sees some people who oppose him," Mr Basuki told reporters on Wednesday, adding that he would accept the offer if asked to join Pertamina.