President Joko Widodo, fourth left, introduces six new ministers at the State Palace, Central Jakarta, on December 22, 2020. (Photo Courtesy of the State Secretariat)

A Glimpse of Jokowi’s Six New Ministers: from Political Rival to Banker-turned-Health Minister

BY :THE JAKARTA GLOBE

DECEMBER 22, 2020

Jakarta. A cabinet shake-up triggered by the arrest of two ministers for graft allegation brought six new faces to the President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo administration on Tuesday. 

The appointment of Sandiaga Uno as the new tourism and creative economy minister comes as the biggest surprise: both Jokowi’s rivals in last year’s presidential elections are now in the same boat.

Jokowi already appointed former presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto as his defense minister soon after being sworn in for his second term last October.

It may not be a surprise that Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto is shown the door, but Jokowi’s pick for his successor could cause some to raise an eyebrow.

The new health minister, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, is better known as a veteran banker with no history of attending school of medicine. He is the president’s risky gamble in a time of the raging coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 20,000 people in the country.

Here are the new six ministers in the cabinet:

Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno

Sandiaga Salahudin Uno (Beritasatu Photo)
Sandiaga Salahudin Uno (Beritasatu Photo)


Sandiaga is one of three publicly elected officials who joined the cabinet in this reshuffle. He replaced “millennial” minister Wishnutama Kusubandio who has served since October last year.

Sandiaga, 51, was elected as Jakarta’s deputy governor in a heated election marred by sectarian and racial issues in 2017. He resigned after two years to become the running mate of Prabowo in the presidential election.

Before entering politics, Sandiaga has built a reputation as one of the country’s most successful young entrepreneurs. He started with investment company Saratoga Investama Sedaya which acquired other businesses from mining to telecommunication.

He is certainly the richest man in the cabinet, with a personal wealth of around Rp 5 trillion ($352 million), according to his 2018 report to the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK. The commission obliges all state officials or candidates for public offices to report their wealth.

Social Affairs Minister Tri Rismaharini

Tri Rismaharini (Antara Photo)
Tri Rismaharini (Antara Photo)


The mayor of Surabaya was appointed to succeed disgraced minister Juliari Batubara, who was detained by the KPK earlier this month for alleged corruption in Covid-related social assistance packages for the poor.

Better known as Risma, the veteran civil servant has earned national fame for her no-nonsense approach in dealing with the city’s problems. She often led in person city government actions  to better address issues that became public attention.

Risma, who turned 59 last month, is the first woman to be elected mayor in the East Java capital, the country’s second largest city, and won a second term in 2015.
 
“I thank the president and the vice president for trusting me to continue my service to the country,” she said at the State Palace in Central Jakarta.

Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin

Budi Gunadi Sadikin (Antara Photo)
Budi Gunadi Sadikin (Antara Photo)


Before his appointment, the last time an Indonesian health minister was not a doctor was in the late 1940s. 

Budi is a graduate of Bandung Institute of Technology’s nuclear physics major whose first public duty was the president director of state-owned Bank Mandiri, which rose to become one of the country’s best-performing banks under his leadership.

Another big acknowledgment for his service came when he led state mining firm Inalum in 2017-19, during which the company became the government’s arm to acquire a 51 percent stake in Freeport Indonesia. 

Prior to his executive posts at state-owned companies, he secured a managerial role at IBM Asia Pacific. 

The 54-year-old served as state-owned enterprises deputy minister before the Tuesday’s appointment.

Despite his lack of formal medical education, a new health minister could somehow deliver a relief to frustrated Indonesians amid surging coronavirus cases and deaths in recent months with little guidance from Terawan in how to cope with the outbreak.

The man Budi succeeded has earlier dismissed the seriousness of the coronavirus threat as a common flu. 

Indonesia first acknowledged coronavirus infections in early March despite many suspected cases with similar symptoms having been detected in many parts of the country weeks earlier.

When asked at that time why there was not a single case in the country, Terawan replied: “It’s a blessing from God.”

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Sakti Wahyu Trenggono

Wahyu Sakti Trenggono (Antara Photo)
Wahyu Sakti Trenggono (Antara Photo)


Certainly there is a disappointment for those wishing the return of celebrated ex-minister Susi Pudjiastuti after her successor Edhy Prabowo was arrested last month by the KPK for corruption.

Jokowi instead picked relatively unknown Sakti Wahyu Trenggono, who last served as a deputy for Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, to replace Edhy.

However, Sakti has been in Jokowi’s inner circle since last year when he became treasurer for his presidential campaign.

Born in Semarang, Central Java, on Nov. 2, 1962, Sakti made a fortune by establishing telecommunication firms Solusindo Kreasi Pratama and Tower Bersama Infrastruktur. His companies currently own a majority of telecommunication masts across the country, landing him the “king of towers” nickname.

Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas

Yaqut Cholil Qoumas (Antara Photo)
Yaqut Cholil Qoumas (Antara Photo)


Yaqut is a top politician from Jokowi’s ally the National Awakening Party (PKB), which has its root from the country’s largest Muslim group Nahdlatul Ulama. 

He is the son of respected cleric Muhammad Cholil Bisri, co-founder of the PKB.

Yaqut, 45, is the third elected official among the six new ministers, currently serving as lawmaker -- a deputy chairman of the House of Representatives’ Commission II overseeing elections and civil administration.

He earlier was a councilor in Rembang, Central Java and later elected as deputy district head of his hometown.

He is more popular as chairman of GP Anshor, the youth arm of the Nahdlatul Ulama.

No one outside the presidential office has expected a change of leadership in the Religious Affairs Ministry until Jokowi introduced him.

But the president’s initial pick of retired army general Fachrul Razi as the religious affairs minister already raised questions in October last year.

At that time, Jokowi argued that one of the minister’s main tasks was to tackle growing radicalism. 

It remains unclear why he abruptly fired Fachrul.

Trade Minister Muhammad Lutfi

Muhammad Luthfi
Muhammad Luthfi


The Indonesian ambassador to the US has been called home to retake the lead in the Trade Ministry. Muhammad Lutfi for the second time in his career was appointed as the trade minister replacing Agus Suparmanto.

He assumed the same role during the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono presidency in 2014.

In 2005, President Susilo appointed him as the head of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) at the age of 36, becoming the youngest person to lead the office.

Lutfi was the chairman of the Indonesian Young Entrepreneurs Association (Hipmi) before he assumed his first role in a government office. 
 

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