Speculation Abounds on Question of Indonesia’s Next Cabinet

Speculation Abounds on Question of Indonesia’s Next Cabinet

By Erwida Maulia on 10:12 pm Jun 12, 2014

  1.  The campaign season for Indonesia’s presidential election enters a new phase this week with the media and observers alike speculating on who may occupy key cabinet posts, whichever candidate wins the race.

The strikingly different campaign teams behind the two tickets vying for the presidency offer a glimpse of which supporting members are most likely to become cabinet officials for the 2014-2019 period, in line with previous elections that saw the winners recruit most of their ministers from the very teams responsible for their victory.

This trend is expected to continue this year, according to some observers, including Fadjroel Rachman, executive director of the Soegeng Sarjadi School of Government, which announced last week the result of its most recent survey measuring the popularity of certain public figures for ministerial posts.

The poll includes a slew of prominent figures, such as State Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan; former trade minister Gita Wirjawan; Paramadina University rector Anies Baswedan; former Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud M.D.; and newly appointed chief economics minister Chairul Tanjung, among others, as respondents’ top favorites for several ministerial posts.

However, except for some names like Anies and Mahfud, political analysts suggest that the presidential tickets are likely to have their own opinions on the matter.

“I believe there’s a 99 percent chance that Anies Baswedan will be appointed education minister if Joko wins, just as surveys predict,” Fadjroel said, citing Anies’s position as a spokesman for the Joko Widodo-Jusuf Kalla campaign.

“I’m sure Pramono Anung will also get [a ministerial post] because he’s very close to Megawati. I’d say there’s a 75 percent chance for that,” he added, time referring to the House of Representatives deputy speaker from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), of which Joko is a member and which is chaired by former president Megawati Soekarnoputri.

In addition to Anies and Pramono, a number of young intellectuals on the Joko-Kalla side may potentially secure a role in the new cabinet, including Andi Widjajanto, a defense and international relations expert from the University of Indonesia, and Rizal Sukma, executive director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank.

“Andi may be encouraged to take the defense minister position, while Rizal may serve as foreign minister,” Fadjroel told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday. “They are active members of the campaign team, though they are not very well known to the public.”

Arbi Sanit, a political expert at the University of Indonesia, said last month that Andi was a strong choice for the position of defense or foreign minister because of his position as a core member of Joko’s campaign team. In contrast, another political observer, Bantarto Bandoro of the Indonesian Defense University, said it was unlikely that the key post would be given to a non-career diplomat.

As for the opposing camp of Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa, Fadjroel said those most likely to secure a seat in the cabinet of the former Special Forces commander were Mahfud, his campaign manager; and Suhardi, the chairman of Prabowo’s Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra).

“Mahfud may be appointed attorney general… and Suhardi the agriculture minister, because of his background in agriculture,” he said.

Other senior officials from the Gerindra-led coalition who are expected to join the new cabinet should Prabowo win include Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) chairman Anis Matta; Golkar Party secretary general Idrus Marham; and United Development Party (PPP) deputy chairman Lukman Hakim Saifuddin.

“Lukman would probably maintain his position as religious affairs minister,” Fadjroel said, adding it wasn’t clear yet what Anis and Idrus could be appointed as.

Djayadi Hanan, the research director at Saiful Mujani Research & Consulting, said he was nearly certain that Anies would secure a place in Joko’s cabinet — most likely as education minister, though he would also be suitable as cabinet secretary.

Meanwhile, in Prabowo’s camp, Mahfud may also be mooted for defense minister — a position he served during the presidency of the late Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid — or coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, Djayadi said.

As in previous election years, only senior politicians are expected to make the cut to the cabinet.

“Based on tradition and trends, we can safely predict that party chairmen will be given priority,” Djayadi said on Thursday. “Both presidential candidates have said they won’t allocate ministerial seats to coalition members. Instead, appointments will be based on expertise.”

These seasoned politicians are likely to secure less technical posts, such as coordinating minister for welfare, religious minister, social services minister or minister for disadvantaged regions.

“Those are usually given to [coalition] party members,” Djayadi said.

Retired military generals from either camp have a large chance of clinching security-related posts, such as chief political and security minister, defense minister, and chief of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN).

“One thing’s for sure: both candidates will form a cabinet that is representative of various groups — women, activists and academics,” Djayadi said.

A growing number of groups representing the public, including the University of Indonesia’s student council and several political analysts, have called on both camps to reveal the composition of their prospective cabinets before election day, as the information may help undecided voters make up their minds.

Neither camp has heeded the call, saying it was “unethical” to reveal any cabinet makeup before each ministerial appointment was fixed.

“We haven’t given any thought to the matter,” said M. Romahurmuzy, the deputy campaign chairman for the Prabowo-Hatta team. “Why would we draft a cabinet when no one is elected yet?”

Romahurmuzy denied rumors of Gerindra-led coalition members requesting ministerial posts as a condition for their support. The Golkar Party is rumored to have asked for a senior ministerial position for its chairman, Aburizal Bakrie, while the PKS is said to have demanded four seats.

Poempida Hidayatullah, a spokesman for the Joko-Kalla team and a close aide to Kalla, also denied allegations of granting political favors, though he did give hints as to who would most likely join the cabinet should Joko be elected president.

“To ensure a solid cabinet, loyalty is clearly a condition for this pair, aside from experience,” he said. “Professionals who don’t share the same policy with them will be a source of disharmony.”


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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