President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo seen during a visit to the head office of state-owned utility company Perusahaan Listrik Negara in Jakarta on Monday. (Antara Photo/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

Jokowi Freezes Reshuffling of SOE Execs After Scandals

AUGUST 07, 2019

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has ordered his ministers not to change the directors of state-owned companies until at least October, when the first term of his presidency ends.

A report by CNN Indonesia quoted Moeldoko, the presidential chief of staff, as saying that Jokowi had asked ministers on Monday to hold off on strategic policies and replacements on boards of directors for the next two months.

"The ministers were advised not to adopt any new strategic policies, or appoint or replace people in certain roles or positions," Moeldoko said on Tuesday.

The order came after several embarrassing incidents at state-owned enterprises in recent months. National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia must pay billions of rupiah in fines for cooking its annual report, while Bank Mandiri also came under scrutiny by the Financial Services Authority (OJK) after a mishap with its customers' account balances.

The latest was a slip-up by state-owned utility company Perusahaan Listrik Negara, which caused a massive power outage  on Sunday that crippled a third of the country's economy. 

Moeldoko said Jokowi issued the order because he wants to avoid an additional burden ahead of his inauguration. The former general said the order applied to all ministries. 

"That is the order, not only to Rini, but to everyone. All ministers were asked not to replace officials on certain levels," he said, referring to State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno.

Jokowi is widely expected to reshuffle his cabinet at the start of his second term in October, as he seeks to strike a balance between accommodating coalition partners and the need for capable professionals. 

In the past, ministers who sensed that they may be sacked or redeployed tended to replace top officials in their ministries with loyalists to ensure that their agendas would remain in place after their departure. 

However, Rini has denied plans to reshuffle boards of directors at any state-owned companies.

"There were stakeholders' meetings already, so reshuffles are unnecessary," the minister said on July 19, referring to Bank Mandiri, Bank Negara Indonesia, Bank Tabungan Negara, Bank Rakyat Indonesia and Perusahaan Gas Negara.