President Joko Widodo, left, accompanied by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, prepares to lead a Plenary Cabinet Session at the Bogor State Palace on Monday. (Antara Photos/Wahyu Putro A.)

Jokowi Woos Millennials for His New Cabinet


JULY 08, 2019

Jakarta. After his re-election, President Joko Widodo said his new cabinet for the second-term of his presidency might include millennials or youths under 30 years old.

"The world is getting more dynamic, we need young people who are dynamic, energetic and flexible to changes. Maybe [this time] we'll have a 20-year-old or 25-year-old minister," Jokowi said in an exclusive interview with Antara on June 12.

A fast-moving world needs fast-moving youths who could execute government programs swiftly, the president said, as he focuses on human capital development in his second term.

"We need ministers who are dynamic, energetic, flexible, adaptable and not reliant on routines. I don’t like routines... we'll get left behind [if we only follow routines]," he said.

United Development Party secretary-general Arsul Sani said his party supports the president's agenda to include youths in his cabinet. He also said that parties that had just joined his coalition should get more than one position in the cabinet.

Jokowi has not revealed his cabinet structure.

Youths in Government

Young people have taken a central role in the administration of the country since the famous "Youth Oath" in 1928. Young Indonesian fighters, known as "pemuda," were also heavily involved in the Independence War after the Second World War. 

This year's election involved a newly created "millennials' party" called the Indonesian Solidarity Party, who did not make this year's parliamentary threshold but has vowed to continue supporting Jokowi.

Globally, there has been a trend of young people occupying ministerial or other important government positions. Malaysia's current Youth and Sports Minister is 25-year-old Syed Saddiq. United Arab Emirates' Youth Affairs Minister is even younger, 22-year-old Shamma Al Mazrui.

The United States also has the youngest woman sitting in its Congress, 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, known for her championing of youth, immigration and other controversial issues in the babyboomer-dominated congress.

A researcher in political governance at the Gadjah Mada University Research Center, Ignasius Juru, said age should not be a prerequisite to become a minister. But young people should possess at least three of the following qualities if they were to occupy important positions in the government. 

First, according to Ignasius, they must have agency, which means they should represent a clear vision and also understand statesmanship. He said a smart young politician should have the potential to become a leader of the future. 

Second, they must have a huge political capacity and conduct themselves professionally. This would allow them to draft policies and negotiate with different political interest.

Third, they must have a strong geopolitical knowledge to be able to navigate their way through regional and global politics. 

Support From Millennials

Jokowi's intention to include millennials in his cabinet has been welcomed by young Indonesians. Cania, a 24-year-old vlogger, said young people should occupy the Youth and Sports Minister and Communication and Informatics Minister posts.

"It's a bit ironic if the Youth and Sports Ministry can't live up to its name," Cania told Antara on Thursday.

Young people are also more suitable for the Communication and Informatics Minister post because they are more adaptable and more up-to-date with the flow of information in the world, according to Cania. However, she also said that they should have the right qualification for the job. 

"I have not seen people my age producing breakthrough policies to solve Indonesia's myriad of problems," Cania said.

R. Adysurya, a 22-year old student and software engineer, said having the right qualification is very crucial.

"This is the age of the millennials. Jokowi is on the right track, but selection must be tight," he told Jakarta Globe on Monday.

On the other hand, Iffah, a 23-year old accountant, said she doesn't think 20-year-olds should occupy ministerial positions. 

"20-year-olds are still unstable. People in their 30s are more assured and have more direction," Iffah told Jakarta Globe on Monday.