Jakarta. The incoming head of Indonesia's intelligence body has admitted that his appointment was a political favor from President Joko Widodo, who his party endorsed in last year's election.
Sutiyoso, the chairman of the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party, or PKPI, also boasted to reporters on Saturday about not needing to prepare for his confirmation hearing at the House of Representatives at the end of the month.
Asked whether he expected his party to get seats in a potential cabinet reshuffle, after being left out of the inaugural lineup last October, Sutiyoso said his nomination to head the State Intelligence Agency, or BIN, was a political concession by Joko.
"I've already got a seat, right? One is enough for now," he said.
"That's what politics is like. The other parties get ministerial [posts], and so do I. I went seven months without getting anything, but I didn't complain."
Sutiyoso, a retired Army general and former governor of Jakarta, said there was nothing wrong with the president farming out key posts to political allies, as long as they were capable of the job.
He also made light of his upcoming confirmation hearing with legislators, which is expected to take place between June 28 and 30.
"I'm ready for it. I've prepared by sleeping a lot," Sutiyoso said.
He added he expected to face a grilling from legislators, some of whom have criticized Joko for his controversial selection of a political backer rather than an experienced professional to serve as the country's intelligence chief.
"It wouldn't be fun if there wasn't some opposition," he said.
Joko's nomination of Sutiyoso is the latest in a list of questionable appointments, all seemingly politically motivated, that the president has made since taking office last October.
In January, he drew the ire of antigraft activists, and the attention of the national anti-corruption commission, by nominating Budi Gunawan, a close aide to Megawati Soekarnoputri, his political patron, as the next chief of police. Joko later withdrew the nomination in the wake of a public outcry, but did nothing to stop Budi being appointed the deputy to a police chief, Badrodin Haiti, who retires early next year.
The president also courted controversy with his pick of H.M. Prasetyo, of the National Democrat Party (NasDem), another member of his coalition, as the country's attorney general. Prasetyo has since become the internationally reviled face of Indonesia's widely condemned execution of foreign drug convicts, including Rodrigo Gularte, a mentally disabled Brazilian, and Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who were praised as model reformed prisoners and who were helping other inmates turn a new leaf through vocational and arts classes and prayer groups.
Joko's ministerial picks have also grated with the public for the large number of party officials and politically connected individuals in the cabinet ̶ after he expressly declared during campaigning that his would be a cabinet not beholden to party interests.
Among those who have come in for criticism are Justice Minister Yasonna Laoly, from Joko and Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), who has pushed a series of policies seen as undermining the fight against corruption; Megawati's daughter, Puan Maharani, the chief welfare minister, who publicly belittled the president as just another party flunky and answerable to her mother; and the manpower minister, Hanif Dhakiri of the National Awakening Party (PKB), who publicly contradicted the president by ruling out Joko's promise to end to the controversial transmigration policy for Papua province.