Indonesian President Jokowi eyes young people in next Cabinet

Indonesian President Joko Widodo is set to lead a strong government with greater support from the House of Representatives.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo is set to lead a strong government with greater support from the House of Representatives. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - While he keeps reminding the nation about the potential of its young generation and the importance to adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Indonesian President Joko Widodo has expressed his intention to appoint young professionals in his next Cabinet.

Mr Joko, who has been declared the winner of the recent presidential election by the General Elections Commission (KPU), has stated his intention to pick young professionals and politicians for key positions in the next five years.

Campaign chairman Erick Thohir said the incumbent needed the young figures to support his focus on the development of human resources in his second term.

"(Mr Joko) sees such figures as supporting his vision," he said.

As the country awaits the outcome of a lawsuit lodged by rival presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto against Mr Joko's electoral victory, political parties are lobbying the president for ministerial positions.

A number of names have been mentioned as options for filling the ministerial seats. Most recently, Mr Joko suggested that the chairman of the Association of Young Indonesian Businessmen (HIPMI), Bahlil Lahadalia, was qualified.

"The way I see it, Bahlil is suitable to be a minister. He has good social skills and is very smart," Mr Joko said when attending an event held by HIPMI in Jakarta on Sunday night.

 
 
 

The President later asked the audience for their opinion about choosing the 42-year-old businessman as a minister, drawing cheers of support.

"(I want) a Cabinet that can work, that's why it is called the Working Cabinet. I've said it so many times, I need people who can execute programmes, who have good managerial skills," he said.

Mr Joko is set to lead a strong government with greater support from the House of Representatives, since political parties backing him are projected to control about 60 per cent of the seats at the legislature.

During his first term in office, Mr Joko had to make compromises with political parties in return for their support of his administration.

Now, observers have said, he has more freedom to realise his vision and programmes, including making personal choices for his Cabinet.

Other young figures that have surfaced as potential candidates are Mr Erick himself and Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) chairwoman Grace Natalie.

Figures from the opposition camp, including Sandiaga Uno, the businessman-turned-politician who was Mr Prabowo's running mate in the presidential election, and Agus Harimurti, the son of former president and Democratic Party patron Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, have also been touted for Cabinet positions.

Parties of Mr Joko's political camp, however, quickly responded to the president's intention.

National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin Iskandar has handed Mr Joko a list of 20 PKB cadres and appears to expect at least 10 ministerial posts for his party.

"I pray that 10 Cabinet ministers in the next period are from the PKB," Mr Muhaimin said.

The Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) has also been lukewarm about the idea of a "young Cabinet."

PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto said the consideration for appointing ministers should not be based on the age of potential ministers but on their capability, quality and readiness.

"We can't simply appoint a person (to fill the post). It's not only about the young age. A minister is a leader, thus he or she should really understand the ministerial duties and has to have leadership skills," Mr Hasto said.

Political expert Djayadi Hanan from Saiful Mujani Research & Consulting (SMRC) mentioned three criteria Mr Joko should consider for future ministers: technocratic competence, political skill and communication skill.

"The challenge for Mr Joko is to accommodate the demands of all political parties in his coalition. Therefore, Mr Joko should also be firm and focus on those criteria when discussing (the Cabinet composition) with the parties," Mr Djayadi said.