JAKARTA – Indonesian President Joko Widodo fired five ministers and transferred one in a long expected cabinet reshuffle announced Wednesday afternoon. Trade Minister Rachmat Gobel was replaced by Thomas Lembong, a Harvard graduate and former investment banker. Coordinating Economic Minister Sofyan Djalil was replaced by Darmin Nasution, the central bank governor from 2010 to 2013. Djalil’s new post is minister of national development planning. The appointment of Nasution and Lembong has been welcomed by those who feared party hacks might be appointed based on political connections. “As a former central bank governor, [Nasution] knows very well the fiscal and macroeconomic matters that need to be addressed,” said Djayadi Hanan, executive director at Saiful Mujani, a Jakarta political consultancy. Gobel’s decision to slash cattle imports led to beef prices surging and protests from consumers already struggling with a sliding rupiah and growing inflation.”It is no surprise that the trade minister was replaced,” said Yohanes Sulaiman, a lecturer at the Indonesian National Defense University. “Many business people said he was incompetent.”
JAKARTA – The power struggle surrounding Indonesia’s search for a new chief of police escalated Friday morning with the arrest of prominent anti-graft official Bambang Widjojanto on charges of inciting perjury. Widjojanto is deputy head of the Corruption Eradication Commission, known by its Indonesian initials as the KPK. The agency had earlier indicted Budi Gunawan, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s nominee for police chief, on charges of accepting gifts and bribes.Nursyabani Katjasungkana, a lawyer with the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation, said that Widjojanto’s arrest was a retaliation against the KPK by the police. “This cannot be separated from the context of the KPK investigation into the nominee for chief of police, Katjasungkana said, speaking at the Jakarta police station where Widjojanto was being detained.
JAKARTA – Djayadi Hanan, a politics lecturer at Jakarta’s Paramadina University, believes Yudhoyono has tarnished his reputation as a democratic leader. “People and history will remember SBY as a president who put a halt on the progress of Indonesia’s democracy,” Hanan told the Nikkei Asian Review. “He had the power to stop it and save Indonesian local democracy.”