Indonesian president needs 'effective ministers' to restore public trust

Indonesian president needs 'effective ministers' to restore public trust
PHOTO: AFP

The Presidential Advisory Board (Wantimpres) told President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Monday that the President needed to replace politically-wired ministers in the next cabinet reshuffle if he wanted to regain the public trust.

Wantimpres chairman Sidarto Danusubtoro made the statement following his meeting Jokowi at Merdeka Palace amid speculations that a Cabinet reshuffle was imminent.

"President Jokowi's administration needs to build trust and in order to build trust the President needs assistance from those who are not preoccupied with themselves and their families. People who are no longer focusing on their personal interests," Sidarto said.

Sidarto, however, declined to give details on whether he and other board members had discussed the imminent cabinet shake-up with the President.

"I don't comment [on reshuffles]. The point is that trust must exist [because] the country's economy is also about trust, whether that trust comes from the public in the country or from people outside of the country," Sidarto said.

Sidarto, a former People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) speaker and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician, also declined to give his assessment on whether or not he believed that the current members of the cabinet had failed to build trust.

Last week, Jokowi held a meeting with a number of economists to seek advice on how to improve the performance of his economic ministers who have been unable to stop the current economic slowdown.

The economists, at that time, revealed to media that Jokowi fully understood that reform was needed within the Cabinet's economic team. The President acknowledged that although the economic ministers had good skills, they had failed to gain market confidence as a result of poor communication abilities.

Another member of the board economist, Sri Adiningsih, also declined to confirm if they had talked about a possible cabinet reshuffle.

"We did not specifically discuss the performance of ministers but we gave advice on how to fix our economic performance," she said.

The Palace had previously played down speculation. On Monday, however, presidential communication team member Teten Masduki said that a signal on a possible reshuffle was imminent.

"The signal that the President needs to reshuffle is quite clear. However, the President has not yet discussed specifically about when and who would be the candidates," Teten said.

Jokowi's recent statement revealing his intention to fire officials, including ministers, for their failure to overcome problematic dwelling times at Tanjung Priok Port, has also increased speculation over a possible Cabinet shake-up.

After a meeting with Jokowi last week, Ahmad Syafii Maarif, the former leader of Muhammadiyah, the country's second-largest Islamic organization, also said that he believed a reshuffle was imminent. Speculation over a Cabinet reshuffle was also rife last week after Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo revealed that there was a minister who liked to belittle the President behind his back.

However, Tjahjo, a member of the ruling party PDI-P, declined to mention the person by name.

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