Editorial: A Year of Power Plays and Little Else


SEPTEMBER 03, 2015

The speculation about the removal of Comr. Gen. Budi Waseso as the National Police’s chief of detectives highlights the endless tug-of-war between the State Palace and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, or PDI-P.

The promotion of President Joko Widodo’s most trusted aide, Luhut B. Pandjaitan, to the post of chief security minister, has proved to be a political boost for the president vis-a-vis his own party’s politicians.

Luhut, whose portfolio includes supervising the police, has the willingness to confront and control the squad, possibly now the country’s most powerful institution – and the hardest to control.

When Waseso, who is widely seen as supporter to deputy police chief Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan, and thus an officer loyal to the PDI-P, raided the offices of port operator Pelindo II with a media entourage, the company’s president director, Richard J. Lino, publicly protested and reported the matter to a number of ministers as well as Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

Sources inside the State Palace quickly released a statement to the media that Waseso would be removed, and the speculation escalated further.

Luhut then took over and reminded every investigating body, including the police, to obey the president’s order not to create “noise” that could disrupt economic development, signaling that Waseso’s removal was imminent. The PDI-P, meanwhile, promptly denied that he had been fired.

Nearly a year since taking office, Joko is still consolidating his power. It is crucial that he do this in order to be functional and effective. However, he must carry out this consolidation as quickly as possible to allow him to implement his development programs in a timely manner. Otherwise, he will have exhausted his time and resources on endless politicking.