Who are Indonesia's newly sworn-in ministers?

The six newly appointed ministers of Indonesian President Joko Widodo pose for photographs after the swearing in ceremony at the presidential palace in Jakarta on August 12, 2015.
PHOTO: AFP

Coordinating Economic Minister Darmin Nasution

Darmin Nasution, who has a doctorate in economics from Paris-Sorbonne University, is a respected economist with a diversity of experience in monetary and fiscal matters as he once led the central bank (2010-2013), the tax office (2006-2009) and the former capital market and financial institutions supervisor Bappepam-LK (2005-2006).

Originally from Tapanuli, North Sumatra, he was known as a strong thinker behind Bank Indonesia's monetary policies from 2010 to 2013. The 66-year-old lowered Indonesia's benchmark interest rate gradually to the lowest level ever in the country's history when he was in power at the central bank.

The chairman of the Indonesian Economists Association (ISEI) was also among the initiators of the Financial Services Authority (OJK), which took away the banking supervision function of BI in 2013. But Darmin later regretted the separation as it complicated macro-prudential policy setting and supervision by placing these issues under two different agencies.

Darmin, a close aide of former finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati who is now the managing director of the Washington-based World Bank, is also the one who began capping single ownership in domestic banks by 40 per cent and required exporters and debtors to bring back Indonesia-based banks' funds parked overseas, which irked oil and gas companies claiming the rule overlaped with another law.

He also froze permits of Citibank Indonesia to open new branches and acquire new wealth management clients.

Under his leadership at BI, the central bank also issued regulations that aimed to avoid a property bubble and the booming auto and motorcycle loans as it tightened the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio, meaning that down payment requirements for borrowers increased. Banks were also required for the first time to allocate 20 per cent of their lending portfolio for micro, small and medium enterprises in phases until 2018.

During his term at the Finance Ministry's directorate general of taxation, the tax office rolled out a landmark policy called the "sunset policy" that writes off tax fines in exchange for taxpayers settling their previously unreported obligations. The policy drew in trillions of rupiah to help lift state revenues.

Last year, Darmin had been questioned as a witness as part of the Corruption Eradication Commission's (KPK) investigation into the high-profile tax scandal involving the nation's third largest lender, Bank Central Asia (BCA). He served as tax office chief when probes into the high-profile tax graft case of former tax officer Gayus H. Tambunan were in the spotlight.

Trade Minister Thomas Lembong

Thomas Trikasih Lembong, nicknamed Tom Lembong, may be the least known by the public of the six new names. However, he has actually been doing behind-the-scenes work for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, being the economic adviser.

Thomas, 43, co-founded a Singapore-based private equity firm called Quvat Management Pte Ltd. in 2005 with Soegeng Wibowo and Bratanata Perdana, the latter of whom succeeded Thomas as the president commissioner of publicly listed cinema operator PT Graha Layar Prima, operates the Blitzmegaplex cinema chain.

Quvat prefers to invest in small to midsized companies in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, specialising in growth capital and buyout investments.

"We are really quite expert in lending and fixed income. Investing in distressed bonds can make you a lot of money," Thomas explained in an interview with the Forbes Indonesia magazine, as his company invests in what others think is risky but what the Quvat co-founders believe has a low chance of default.

During the 2008 global financial crisis, for instance, the firm bought Garuda Indonesia bonds paying 23 per cent and state electricity firm PLN bonds offering 18 per cent.

Thomas, who received his bachelor's degree from Harvard University in 1994, majoring in architecture and urban design, began his career in the equity division of Morgan Stanley Pte Ltd. (1995-1996) and later worked as an investment banker at Deutsche Securities Indonesia (1999-2000).

Afterward, he led the asset management investment (AMI) division at the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (BPPN) from 2000 to 2002 - following the massive 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis that left many local banks liquidated - tasked with managing the Bank Indonesia Liquidity Assistance (BLBI) big obligor funds, including the Sinar Mas Group.

Thomas was selected in 2008 as the Young Global Leader (YGL) of the World Economic Forum.

National Development Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil

Sofyan Djalil was previously the coordinating economic minister of Jokowi's initial Cabinet, before being reshuffled to lead the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) - a government agency at a ministerial level - to replace Andrinof Chaniago.

Born in Perlak, Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, on Sept. 23, 1953, he graduated from the University of Indonesia's (UI) law department, majoring in business law, in 1984. He then went to Tufts University, near Boston, United States, to get two master's degrees, one in public policy (1989) and the other in international economic relations (1991). Sofyan got his PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in 1993.

Sofyan, a father of four, served as state-owned enterprises minister from 2007 to 2009 during former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's first tenure along with Jusuf Kalla, vice president at the time, who is known as a close ally of Sofyan's. He was also communications and information minister from 2004 to 2005.

Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Rizal Ramli

Rizal Ramli was most notable for his role as the coordinating economic minister between 2000 and 2001 and then finance minister in 2001 under the leadership of former president Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid, just as the country was recovering from the hard-hitting 1997/1998 Asian financial crisis.

He was also chairman of the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) in 2000 and had been known to represent the local economic think-thank organisation, the Institute for the Development of Economics and Finance (Indef), which hosts notable economists such as Imam Sugema, Aviliani and others.

Rizal, who received his PhD in economics from Boston University in 1990, has strong nationalistic views and is widely known to have an ambition to become president.

Born in Padang, Dec. 10, 1954, Rizal is a former member of the board of commissioners for conglomerate Lippo Group's media arm, First Media.

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister

Few would deny the meteoric rise of Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, 67, a retired general and former advisor to the presidential election campaign team of President Jokowi, who after commanding respect as one of the President's closest confidants, has been appointed to lead the Office of the Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister.

Luhut said he would bring all the ministries operating under his watch in perfect harmony to prevent any "unwarranted interpretations in the field".

Luhut denied the fact that his approach was inspired by the performance of his predecessor, Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, who was prone to making controversial public statements.

"No, no - that's just my style: one team, one frequency. There will be no uncoordinated statements," he said. "Even when I speak, I will consult with the ministries under my watch, so that nothing is conflicting."

Luhut, a former commander of the Army's Special Forces' (Kopassus) terrorism squad Detasemen 81, had previously played a strategic role on behalf of Jokowi in negotiations with political allies and adversaries.

As chief of the presidential staff, Luhut, a Christian of Batak descent, helped instigate communication between the President and other institutions.

More importantly, he exercised great caution in bridging communications between Jokowi and the House of Representatives, allowing the President to navigate the political terrain without being sidelined by his detractors; a task that needed skill in diplomacy, something that he learned while working for the foreign service.

Luhut was the ambassador to Singapore between 1999 and 2000, before he was appointed as trade and industry minister during the administration Gus Dur.

He also holds a master's degree in public administration from George Washington University in the US.

He is also known as a businessman who founded the Toba Sejahtra, a group of companies involved with agriculture and forestry, mining and power plants.

Furniture company PT Rakabu Sejahtra, which produces wooden door frames, decks and flooring for the export market in Central Java, is a joint venture that was established in 2009 between Toba Sejahtra and Jokowi's furniture flagship PT Rakabu.

Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung Wibowo

Jokowi's appointment of Pramono Anung Wibowo, a senior politician from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), comes as no great surprise, considering his vast network of relationships and his proven political communication skills, both of which have launched him into the elite of Indonesia's political sphere.

Jokowi inaugurated Pramono as his new Cabinet Secretary, replacing international relations and defence expert Andi Widjajanto, who seemed to have often missed the mark in interpreting the President's position to the public.

Pramono's appointment is also seen as a move by the PDI-P to maintain its grip on the President, with recent speculation that Jokowi's relationship with party matron Megawati Soekarnoputri had soured.

Pramono has been active in the PDI-P since the reformation era in 1998, before quickly climbing the party ranks as deputy secretary-general in 2000, and eventually as secretary-general in 2005, when he became Megawati's right-hand man.

He showed his political mettle by securing his appointment as deputy speaker of the House of Representatives in the 2009-2014 period, during which time he managed to make friends out of foes and commanded respect from all his colleagues in the legislative body.

Following the 2014 legislative elections, when the House was split into two political camps - the Great Indonesia Coalition (KIH) led by the PDI-P and the Red-and-White Coalition (KMP) led by the Gerindra Party - Pramono went against his party's wishes and forged ties with his adversaries, bridging a gap with the camp led by failed presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.

"I was called up by the President, he gave me the order to bridge communications with a number of state institutions, as well as political parties. This not only counts for the KIH but also the KMP," Pramono said.

He once criticised the President's penchant for "blusukan" or impromptu field visits, which he deemed ineffective.

Pramono was born in Kediri on June 11, 1963. His family was a great admirer and supporter of former president Sukarno, Megawati's father. His father once was a guardian of the Sukarno family when they resided in the Yogyakarta State Palace, also known as Gedung Agung.

He graduated from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) in 1988. He also holds a PhD in communications from Padjajaran University, graduating top of the class in 2013.

Pramono started out as a businessman who held managerial positions in a number of companies involved in coal and gas.

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