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Cabinet to keep fights in private

News & Blog

THEJAKARTAPOST.COM – President Joko ‘€Jokowi’€ Widodo’ has again urged his Cabinet members to avoid making contradictory statements that will only encourage public polemics ‘€” a call he has already repeated at least three times in the past year. 

With power being fragmented among factions in his Cabinet, analysts have warned that a failure to enforce discipline on his ministers will lead the public to perceive Jokowi as a weak president. 

During a Cabinet meeting on Monday at Bogor Palace in West Java, Jokowi told his ministers that all dissenting opinions should be conveyed and resolved internally in formal meetings and that the Cabinet should consolidate itself immediately. 

‘€œI emphasize again the need to avoid conflicts between ministers. There should no longer be any polemics in public highlighting our differences,’€ he said.

‘€œDissenting views should only be conveyed in Cabinet forums and I truly hope that consolidation among different ministries can be immediately settled,’€ said Jokowi, urging all government elements to forge unity to support all objectives he has already outlined and to avoid being influenced by sectorial egos. 

The President also ordered ministers to focus on strategic issues that had huge impacts on the public instead of dealing with trivial ones. 

While Jokowi did not address specific ministers, his order was made amid a recent rift between Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Panjaitan and Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said, who receives backing from Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

Sudirman submitted a report to the House of Representatives’€™ ethics council last week, accusing House Speaker Setya Novanto of trying to broker a deal with an executive of PT Freeport Indonesia, a unit of US mining giant Freeport-McMoRan. 

The report annoyed Luhut because his name was mentioned several times by Setya and politically connected him to oil and fuel import kingpin Muhammad Reza Chalid in purported transcripts of recorded conversations that accompanied the submission.

According to the transcripts, Setya and Reza mention Luhut as having a role in making the deal successful.

Although Sudirman has repeatedly claimed the President had sanctioned his action, Luhut has insisted otherwise. ‘€œThe President told me that he had never instructed Sudirman to file the report,’€ Luhut said in earlier reports. 

As Sudirman refused to strike back at Luhut, Kalla threw his weight behind Sudirman, insisting that the President had endorsed the report to the ethics council and that Luhut should accept the decision. 

Earlier, a rift also erupted between Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Rizal Ramli, who was appointed to the Cabinet based on Luhut’€™s recommendation, and Sudirman over Freeport, the Masela oil block strategy and a plan to build new power plants to generate a total of 35,000 megawatts of electricity.

Rizal and Kalla have also traded barbs over the power plant projects. 

Early this month, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti made her fury public when Trade Minister Thomas Lembong issued a revised regulation she deemed damaging to local fishermen. 

In October, Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman traded jabs with Kalla, opposing the Vice President’€™s decision to import rice. 

‘€œThe President has not finished enforcing discipline on his ministers. He should display strong leadership,’€ said political expert Hanta Yuda of Poltracking Indonesia.

‘€œRifts between Cabinet members should no longer be tolerated. There are signs that the President’€™s orders have been repeatedly ignored [by ministers],’€ he said.

As an outsider to the ruling political and economic elites, Jokowi formed his Cabinet largely through compromises. Few of his Cabinet members were his own pick. 

‘€œThere seems to be a lack of chemistry between ministers because of their different political backgrounds and personal agendas,’€ said Gadjah Mada University political expert Arie Sudjito. 

‘€œIn the case of a dispute among ministers, Jokowi should summon them, convey his clear orders and tell them not to continue, but I guess that does not happen,’€ he said.
Sumber : http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/11/24/cabinet

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