Former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono with his wife Ani Yudhoyono leave the Presidential Palace for the last time. (Antara Photo/Prasetyo Utomo)

SBY Questioning Jokowi’s Motives


JANUARY 21, 2015

Jakarta. Former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has accused his successor of “cleaning up his men” following President Joko Widodo’s decision to replace the National Police chief months ahead of time.

Gen. Sutarman, who was recently discharged from his post as National Police chief, was not due for retirement until October. But in a move that surprised many, Joko announced this month that he was replacing Sutarman with his sole candidate, Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan.

In another shocking twist, the president was forced to delay Budi’s appointment after the police general was named a suspect for bribery and money laundering by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

Yudhoyono has taken to his Facebook page to criticize Joko’s decision — not for naming a corruption suspect as his sole candidate for the role of the nation’s top cop, but for replacing Sutarman, appointed under Yudhoyono’s term.

The former president claimed that he had received word from one of his close associates telling him that Joko is planning to replace everyone installed during Yudhoyono’s administration, including those in the military and police.

“I was stunned. If [Joko is replacing] people perceived as SBY’s men in the politically appointed positions, the move still makes sense. But if those replaced are officers in the military and police who are doing their job professionally [...] then this is absurd,” Yudhoyono writes in a post published on Monday evening.

The former president insisted that he had made the appointments transparently and with accountability.

He then conceded: “I am not sure whether President Jokowi truly intends to conduct such a ‘clean up.’ But if it is the case, then Jokowi can expect the same actions by his successor,” he writes, referring to Joko by his popular nickname.

In true social media form, president responded to his predecessor’s comments on his own Facebook page.

“No such thing is happening; I am not ‘cleaning up SBY’s men.’ This is not a political clash, nor is this a ‘generational’ war,” he writes. “We aim to mend policies of the past that may not be very effective, and improve on those that are.

“If there are changes in the bureaucratic structure, it is merely to refresh the management of public policy and that is common practice.”

Joko maintained that any replacements made are based on the new appointee’s merit and has nothing to do with politics.

Analysts and former police officers have questioned Joko’s choice for Sutarman’s replacement, saying it was unprecedented  and triggered public suspicion that the president was forced by his party to make the move.

“I can’t find any faults in Sutarman that would lead to his replacement. I’m 100 percent sure that he has not made any fatal mistakes during his tenure. He’s clean and is not involved in any legal cases. Also, he still has nine months left  before he is set to retire,” said Comr. Gen (ret) Oegroseno.

Meanwhile, political science professor Salim Said offered up a reason politicians may be so focused on the post of National Police chief.

“The military is all about defense. The role of the National Police is more strategic. So don’t be surprised that [politicians] are trying to control the police force,” he said, adding that rivalries within the law enforcement agency may be working against each other to secure political backings.

To say that Budi’s appointment has nothing to do with the fact that he once served as security chief for the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairman Megawati Soekarnoputri during her reign as president, would also be naive, he added, pointing out the longstanding bitter rivalry between Joko’s political patron and Yudhoyono.

The relationship between the two soured when Yudhoyono resigned from Megawati’s cabinet to run for president, ultimately foiling Megawati’s bid for re-election in 2004.

But PDI-P politician Maruarar Sirait denied allegations Megawati was behind Sutarman’s ousting, insisting that her chairman bore no ill will toward Yudhoyono.

“SBY is being sensitive [for linking Sutarman’s replacement with his differences with Megawati],” Maruarar said.

He also denied that the president is attempting to replace all officials appointed under Yudhoyono’s term, saying the rumors may have been spread by those looking to stir up a new rivalry between Joko and Yudhoyono.

“Joko has met with the former president and the meeting could change the current political landscape because not everyone is happy about [the two seeing eye to eye],” Maruarar added.