President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, left, congratulates Minister of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology Nadiem Makarim, right, and Minister of Investment/ Head of BKPM Bahlil Lahadalia, center, during the ministers' inauguration ceremony at the State Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday. (Antara Photo / Rusman)

Jokowi Sticks With Bahlil, Nadiem, Appoints Theoretical Physicist to Lead BRIN


APRIL 28, 2021

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has inaugurated Bahlil Lahadalia as the new investment minister and Nadiem Anwar Makarim as education, culture, research, and technology on Wednesday, ending speculation about his second cabinet shakeup in five months with little surprises.  

Bahlil assumes the investment minister role following President Jokowi's decision to change the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) status from a governmental body that reports directly to the president into a ministry.


The change in status was supposed to give the new ministry more authority, albeit a similar role as BKPM, to oversee Indonesia's investments. Bahlil said he would commit to continuing reform and reducing the red tapes that hinder investment in Indonesia. 

"Investment is an entry point for future economic improvement. Therefore, the regulatory reform [as mandated by] the 2020 Law about Job Creation is one of the tasks we need to do well in the future," said Bahlil on the sidelines of his inauguration event on Wednesday.

Since he was appointed the investment czar in 2019, Bahlil's performance has been stellar. He managed to maintain the level of investment in Indonesia during the Covid-19 pandemic last year. The foreign direct investment in the first quarter this year even rose at the fastest pace since 2017

Meanwhile, Nadiem would head the new ministry resulted from merging the education and culture ministry with the research and technology ministry.

Nadiem position in the cabinet had been under much speculation since the cabinet reshuffle plan surfaced to the public several weeks ago. Many speculated the 36-year-old minister, the youngest in the cabinet, might be shown the door to make way for Jokowi's political appointee

Still, Nadiem retained his seat in the Jokowi cabinet that comes with expanded responsibilities. 

"I have great hopes to be able to improve the quality and innovation in our universities regarding research and technology," Nadiem said on the sidelines of his inauguration event on Wednesday.

Bambang Brodjonegoro, the research and technology minister, had to relinquish his position. Bambang also missed out on the chance to head the National Innovation Research Agency (BRIN), previously under his ministry's oversight but has become an independent body. 

Laksana Tri Handoko (Photo courtesy of LIPI)

Theoretical physicist Laksana Tri Handoko, the former head of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), would head BRIN and report directly to the president.

Jokowi said earlier that BRIN would focus on researches that can immediately be turned into manufactured products. Meanwhile, universities or LIPI should allocate their resources to fundamental research. 

Laksana was born in Malang on May 7, 1968. He earned a bachelor's degree in physics at Kumamoto University, Japan. Laksana earned a Master's degree in theoretical physics at Japan's Hiroshima University in 1995 and a doctorate from the same university two years later.

Laksana began his career as a researcher at LIPI's Research Center for Physics in 1987 and became the head of theoretical and computational physics at the center between 2002 and 2012.

He then served as LIPI's head of the informatics research center for two years before being appointed as LIPI's deputy for technical sciences.  In 2018, then Research, Technology, and High Education Minister Mohamad Nasir appointed Laksana to head the science institute.