New Indonesian Cabinet, a clean and realistic slate, say analysts

New Indonesian Cabinet, a clean and realistic slate, say analysts
An Indonesian officials hold a copy of the Koran next to Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Tedjo Edy Purdjianto and other members of the Working Cabinet during an inauguration at the presidential palace in Jakarta on October 27, 2014.

President Joko Widodo's Cabinet lacks the "wow" factor, but it is the cleanest slate in years and a realistic combination, given the compromises and political bargaining that inevitably went into the selection, say analysts.

The Jakarta Composite Index was down by 0.96 per cent and the rupiah weakened 0.48 per cent to 12,109 against the US dollar, a muted response reflecting a common view that reform will not be as far-reaching as expected.

"The problem is not with the choice of ministers, but with the unrealistic expectations that people have of President Jokowi, that he'll have the best of the best in his Cabinet," said Mr Lin Che Wei of consultancy Independent Research and Advisory Indonesia, referring to Mr Joko by his nickname.

"This Cabinet line-up is much better than the previous two administrations', and the economic team is the best compared to the other teams of ministers," he added.

Critics said the Cabinet includes individuals without proper qualifications or complete unknowns.

Some see the undue influence of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri in the appointments of her daughter Puan Maharani and her loyalist Rini Soemarno.

Still, the business community has given the thumbs up, citing the largely clean background of the ministers and how some of the key appointees are well matched to their portfolios.

Many cheer the selection of Mr Sudirman Said, a former anti-corruption activist, to head the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, one of the most graft-tainted agencies.

Mr Suryo Bambang Sulistyo, president of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce, rated the new Cabinet eight out of 10 for how good he thought it was for investors, adding that the choices took into consideration core factors such as integrity and the ability to work.

Said businessman Chris Kanter: "We shouldn't focus any more on the names.

We should see in the months ahead, the direction that the ministries will go... whether they can deliver."

zubaidah@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Oct 28, 2014.
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