President Joko Widodo smiles as he departs after addressing parliament in Jakarta on Friday. Joko delivered three speeches on the day, deemed a 'historical' move by a supporter. (Reuters Photo/Darren Whiteside)

Joko's Address Draws Praise, Criticism

AUGUST 14, 2015

Jakarta. President Joko Widodo’s first state of the nation address received mixed responses from politicians, lawmakers and observers.

The president delivered three scripted speeches in separated sessions before the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) and state figures in Jakarta.

In the first two scripts, Joko identified the key issues the nation was still facing and also expressed his appreciation for the achievements his administration had made since taking office last October.

Chief welfare minister Puan Maharani said everyone in the government must act on the president’s instructions laid out in the speech to resolve the problems facing the country.

“The president said we should work together, synergize and unite so we can face every problem in this nation optimistically as we welcome Indonesia’s Independence Day,” Puan said as quoted by Antara.

Luhut Pandjaitan, the newly installed chief security minister, said that the president’s speech was “realistic” in pointing out issues in different sectors, including law, politics, maritime affairs, food, health, environment and human rights.

“[The president’s speech] addresses issues that the country is facing and efforts to tackle them in the future,” Luhut said as quoted by Viva.co.id.

Agung Laksono, the head of a faction of the Golkar Party, said he felt the president’s stance on politics was “neutral” and “objective,” and that this was reflected in Friday’s address.

Democrat Party spokesman Ruhut Sitompul said Joko’s speech covered every possible topic the head of state must address in the annual event.

“It was a good speech. He explained about the recent reshuffle, talked about the relations between state institutions, everything,” Ruhut said as quoted by Rimanews.com.

On Thursday, Joko appointed five new ministers and redeployed one minister in his cabinet in a bid to improve the country’s flagging economic performance.

“I recently reshuffled the cabinet. I took this decision in order to boost the government’s work in accelerating the implementation of development policies,” Joko said on Friday.

“The nation’s best men and women must be willing to work very hard to build the country and nation. For me, reshuffling the cabinet is one of the best ways to fulfill my promise to the people to improve their prosperity.”

Ruhut also praised Joko’s decision to conduct three state-of-the-nation speeches in one day, claiming it was “historical.”

“This is the first time ever. It shows that Jokowi is very flexible,” he said.

However, Joko’s address also garnered negative reviews, including from Fadli Zon, a deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, who said it was “all rhetoric.”

“There’s still gap between his words and his actions. Great words, but different in actions. [Joko] stressed about unity multiple times but has ceased to prove this in practice,” said Fadli, a politician from the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), the biggest faction in the House opposition.

Still, Fadli said the House would continue supporting what Joko said in his address.

Igor Dirgantara, a political expert from Jayabaya University, accused Joko of failing to be specific in his speech, especially about the decision to reshuffle his administration.

“The president also praised the work by state institutions without giving a single criticism – and this was unexpected for the public,” Igor said, referring to a nasty conflict between the police and the antigraft commission, in which activists contend that the president has tacitly backed the hugely corrupt police force’s attempts to undermine the vaunted anti-corruption commission.

“Accusations of the weakening of the antigraft commission are even worse now than in the previous government,” Igor said.

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