President Joko Widodo finally overhauled the Onward Indonesia Cabinet. As many as six ministries received new leaders, most of whom were new faces.
The two ministries that received the most public attention, namely the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Affairs (KKP) and the Ministry of Social Affairs (Kemensos) finally had new leaders after the previous ministers stumbled into corruption cases.
Seeing this, Political Expert at Universitas Gadjah Mada, Abdul Gaffar Karim, agreed that the change of ministers was due to various causes. Apart from the reason for the two ministers above, the replacement occurred because there was a minister who often caused controversy, such as the Health Minister, who triggered a conflict with IDI (Indonesian Doctors Association).
There was also the Tourism Minister, who was not able to translate President Jokowi’s ideas of putting efforts to seek income and preventing the Covid-19 spread.
“Reasons for replacement vary. In the case of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, it looks very political because, traditionally, NU has a great influence on it. The previous minister is of military background,” he said on Wednesday (23/12) by telephone.
According to Gaffar, the most important issue for this cabinet change is whether the president can really control and coordinate the newly-appointed ministers, so their decisions are fully under his control. Their capability will only reveal once they start working.
“We do not yet know their track record. They have done things before, but the authority they have now is greater and different. Let us wait for their performance results,” he said.
Another interesting pattern, said Gaffar, is President Jokowi's tendency to include rivals or critics within his administration structure, providing authority for the opposition in the government.
“On the one hand, it is good for the effectiveness of the government. But, there should be balance and control within the body,” he explained.
According to him, if the opposing parties have now entered the cabinet, we only need to hope that the House of Representatives will carry out its checks and balances on the government. Apart from that, the other hope for monitoring function is from civil society.
Gaffar hopes that the habit of embracing rivals into the government will only apply in President Jokowi's era. It should not occur in the next presidents’ reign as democracy needs a balance somehow.
He emphasized that the presidential system needs a strong balance between the executive and the legislature. If opposing forces, as seen in the presidential election, are then subdued, democracy will lose its balance resulting in the potential of aristocratic leaders.
“This may bring negative impacts to Indonesia’s democracy. With these conditions, community control through student movement should not be submissive. This political style of opposition involvement in the governing body should not be followed. Alternative voices have to be present to keep the government under public supervision,” he said.
UGM Rector, Prof. Ir. Panut Mulyono, M.Eng., D.Eng., IPU, Asean. Eng. expressed his appreciation for the appointment of Prof. Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej, S.H., M.Hum as Deputy Minister of Law and Human Rights. He hopes that Prof. Eddy Hiariej can carry out this mandate well and meet the expectations of the community.
Author: Agung Nugroho