Norman Harsono, Jakarta – State-owned oil company Pertamina inaugurated on Monday former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama as its new president commissioner.
Pertamina spokeswoman Fajriyah Usman told reporters after Ahok's inauguration in Jakarta that the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry had issued the appointment letter on Nov. 22 and that he would begin work immediately.
"His responsibility is to oversee the company and advise the board of directors on strategic moves," she said.
Ahok himself said the position entailed "sitting on the board, as a citizen, to help oversee developments in [Pertamina's] performance, field operations and teamwork".
"It's different from when I was governor, I could tell [reporters] about everything. Only certain positions have such authority. In this case, Pertamina's president director and the SOEs minister," he said.
The inauguration follows SOEs Minister Erick Thohir's headline-grabbing announcement on Friday evening that Ahok would be appointed for the position.
The appointment aimed to reduce oil and gas imports that had long burdened the country's trade balance, said Erick, adding that he needed a good team to help accelerate the development of six oil refineries.
"I think we need a groundbreaking figure [to lead the SOEs] so we can achieve our targets," said the businessman-turned-bureaucrat.
During his time as governor, Ahok was known for his no-nonsense leadership until his fall from power and two-year imprisonment for violating the problematic Blasphemy Law.
Arya Sinulingga, an aide to Minister Erick, said on Monday that appointing public figures such as Ahok and Central Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Condro Kirono as Pertamina commissioners was also meant to improve the oversight of the company, without introducing new powers for the commissioners.
"We want the commissioners to perform their jobs well such that they can handle the day-to-day monitoring of these companies instead of the ministry," he said.
Pertamina's Fajriyah added that the company expected its new commissioners to "turn Pertamina into a global player".