Politicians, Government Officials Debate the Chances of a Cabinet Reshuffle
Jakarta. The National Awakening Party, or PKB, has called on the government to set up clear parameters in evaluating the performance of ministers should President Joko Widodo decide to reshuffle cabinet.
A specific set of criteria would prevent instability during the political transition, the PKB suggested.
Abdul Kadir Karding, chair of the PKB central executive board on Wednesday clarified that Joko has not discussed a cabinet reshuffle with the party
Commenting on the issue, State Secretary Pratikno confirmed that Joko has always intended to regularly review his ministers’ performance, but denied the president would soon be rearranging cabinet positions.
Cabinet Secretary Andy Widjajanto has previously said Joko would replace ministers if they failed to meet his expectations after three years, despite recent mounting calls to dismiss those deemed to be underperforming at their jobs.
Head of Vice President Jusuf Kalla’s economic team Sofyan Wanandi echoed Pratikno in saying the administration has no plans for a reshuffle so far.
Officials must first evaluate the avenue of communication between the president and his ministers, Sofyan said, referring to Joko’s most recent blunder.
Reports surfaced last week of the president having signed a document that awarded 753 state officials Rp 211 million ($16,300) each to make a down payment on a new car, triggering widespread public outcry.
Joko attempted to defend himself by claiming he had no knowledge of the allowance, and it was impossible for him to read every piece of paper he signed, shifting the blame on his ministers for allowing the draft regulation to reach his office.
The president said it wasn’t “the right time” for approving higher allowances and revoked the policy, “first, because of the economic situation; second, from the perspective of justice; and third, we should be reducing fuel consumption.”
Blaming the debacle on a severe lack of effective communication within the cabinet, Sofyan said Joko must first “make sure he is making right decisions and not repeat [the down payment blunder].
“It’s embarrassing. The president should have read the documents before he signed them,” Sofyan said on Wednesday.
He added the cabinet’s economic team, which is under the supervision of Kalla, was planning to conduct a self evaluation at the end of their first six months in office, which will be later this month.
A survey by Indobarometer released earlier this week indicates that Joko’s popularity has taken a sharp dive following a slew of controversial policy initiatives.
Observers point to the low ratings for the ministers for dragging down Joko’s popularity rate, arguing the president should consider a cabinet reshuffle.
A political observer from Bandung’s Padjajaran University (Unpad), Muradi,
asserted the need for Joko to evaluate his ministers’ performance before deciding on any reshuffle.
“A reshuffle is needed because the government’s current situation is no longer conducive [to development]. But remember: a reshuffle should be a part of an evaluation. Now, has a review been done on the ministries’ performances?” Muradi said. “The palace must have a strict guideline for evaluating its ministers.”
If a reshuffles, Muradi zeroed in on four members of the cabinet who he believes should be replaced due to their poor performances thus far: Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman, Trade Minister Rachmat Gobel, Chief Security Minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno and State Administrative Minister Yuddy Chrisnandi.
The Unpad lecturer added, however, that Joko should have his own evaluation parameters rather than simply bowing to public pressures regarding whom should be replaced or should be maintained in the cabinet.
Arbi Sanit, a political analyst from the University of Indonesia, earlier said he was skeptical of any positive changes in the administration even if Joko did reshuffle his cabinet, noting that the president would still need to make concessions to the parties in his coalition.
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Source: The Jakarta Globe