Former Energy Minister Sudirman Said takes down a photo of himself in his office after President Joko Widodo announced he was going to be replaced in a cabinet reshuffle on Wednesday (27/07). (Antara Photo/Muhammad Adimaja)

Cabinet Reshuffle a (Political) Game of Give and Take: Political Commentator


JULY 27, 2016

Jakarta. Sirajudin Abbas, a senior researcher and program director of the Saiful Mujani Research and Consulting polling firm, said the second cabinet reshuffle announced by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo will work better and get a better reception from the public than the previous reshuffle.

“I think the second reshuffle is better than before. The new line-up is more likely to be able to find solutions for pressing issues and public complaints, especially on territorial integrity, economy and public welfare,” said Abbas in Jakarta, Wednesday (27/07).

The return of Sri Mulyani

The return of Sri Mulyani Indrawati as finance minister, replacing Bambang Brodjonegoro, telegraphs Jokowi's intention to improve state budget management and increase state income, especially from tax – which so far has not reached the government's own target.

“There in now optimism on a macroeconomic level. Sri Mulyani is smart, she has the capacity and a good track record to go with her strong international connections,” Abbas said.

Meanwhile, new Minister of Industry Airlangga Hartarto, according to Abbas, is the right man to strengthen and expand the industry sector and create more employment opportunities especially for fresh graduates.

The current reshuffle also seems to have addressed public complaints over inefficient food supply, especially ahead of major religious holidays like Idul Fitri.

“The new Trade Minister Enggar [Enggartiasto Lukito] is experienced and a strong leader. He'll right the ship,” Abbas said.

Political games

Abbas said that Jokowi has also deftly accommodated demands from political parties supporting his administration, bringing back in People's Conscience Party (Hanura) chairman and Wiranto as Chief Security Minister — replacing Luhut Pandjaitan who was given the Coordinating Maritime Minister’s seat — but also flushing out two Hanura ministers in the previous cabinet, Yuddy Chrisnandi and Saleh Husein.

“Asman Abnur, the new Bureaucratic Reform Minister, is there to accommodate the interests of the National Mandate Party (PAN); Airlangga is there because of Golkar; the new Education Minister Muhajir is Muhammadiyah's man; and Eko Putro, the new Minister of Villages and Underdeveloped Regions, is there to represent the National Awakening Party (PKB),” Abbas said.