Jokowi postpones unveiling of Cabinet line-up

Jokowi postpones unveiling of Cabinet line-up

A day after his inauguration celebrations, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo was faced with the realities of governing and forced to postpone unveiling his Cabinet line-up in order to resolve differences with his backers.

He has up to 14 days to name his team, though previous presidents usually did so soon after their swearing-in.

A headache for Mr Joko is that about a quarter of the 43 names under consideration for Cabinet posts and high-level appointments have been flagged by the corruption eradication commission (KPK) as potentially problematic.

The Straits Times understands that those flagged have been questioned in connection with graft investigations or could be suspects.

As a result, say the President's aides, the planned Cabinet line- up has to be reviewed. And an announcement may be made only later this week or early next week.

Mr Joko has pledged to make the fight against graft a key focus of his administration. Last week, he submitted the names of possible appointees to the KPK and the anti-money laundering agency, PPATK, for screening.

Kompas, the country's largest newspaper, reported that hours before his inauguration on Monday, KPK officials met Mr Joko to say it had flagged several names as "red", which denotes that they could be potential graft suspects.

A KPK deputy chairman, Mr Zulkarnaen, told the newspaper several others were flagged "dark yellow", after questions surfaced over their wealth reports. A "light yellow" label means that members of the public had filed reports against them and these had to be looked into.

Senior public officials are required to file personal wealth reports - discrepancies between their incomes and their bank accounts are often indications of gratification.

Mr Sidarto Danusubroto, former parliamentary Speaker and a member of Mr Joko's Indonesian Democratic Party - Struggle, told The Straits Times that the President had to act in line with the KPK's recommendations.

"The thousands of people who voluntarily took to the streets to celebrate Jokowi's inauguration on Monday show the public has such high expectations of Jokowi that he has no choice but to appoint credible ministers," he said.

Mr Donal Fariz, a researcher at Indonesia Corruption Watch, urged the President to spend ample time to evaluate the names and find replacements.

Mr Jokowi has to appoint persons of integrity to help fend off possible pressures from an opposition-controlled Parliament, he told a panel discussion, adding that persons who could not explain their finances should not be picked.

Potential candidates for new Cabinet

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has said he will have four coordinating ministers and 29 ministers in his Cabinet. He wants 18 posts to be filled by professionals and technocrats and the rest by professionals who belong to a political party or are named by the party.

A postponement of the formal announcement of the new Cabinet has led to several lists making the rounds.

A front runner for Coordinating Security Minister is former trade and industry minister Luhut Panjaitan, 67.

Ms Sri Mulyani Indrawati, 52, now World Bank managing director, is a strong candidate for the post of Coordinating Economic Minister. Another candidate is outgoing Finance Minister Chatib Basri, 49.

Mr Ignasius Jonan, 51, head of national railway operator Kereta Api Indonesia, who turned the ageing railway service around, has been tipped to head the Transport Ministry or the state-owned Enterprise Ministry.

Mr Basri, if picked, may join a small group of ministers retained from the previous Cabinet. This group is said to include outgoing Religious Affairs Minister and United Development Party politician Lukman Hakim Saifuddin.

This article was first published on Oct 22, 2014.
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