Prabowo accepts role in Jokowi's new Cabinet

Gojek co-founder Nadiem Makarim yesterday confirmed he has been offered a position in the new Indonesian Cabinet. PHOTO: REUTERS Indonesia's opposition leader Prabowo Subianto speaking to reporters after meeting President Joko Widodo yesterday. With
Indonesia’s opposition leader Prabowo Subianto speaking to reporters after meeting President Joko Widodo yesterday. With him was Gerindra party deputy chairman Edhy Prabowo. ST PHOTO: WAHYUDI SOERIAATMADJA
Gojek co-founder Nadiem Makarim yesterday confirmed he has been offered a position in the new Indonesian Cabinet. PHOTO: REUTERS Indonesia's opposition leader Prabowo Subianto speaking to reporters after meeting President Joko Widodo yesterday. With
Gojek co-founder Nadiem Makarim yesterday confirmed he has been offered a position in the new Indonesian Cabinet.PHOTO: REUTERS

Opposition leader Prabowo Subianto will join the new Cabinet of Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, who defeated him in the last two bitterly-fought presidential elections.

Mr Prabowo, 68, who heads the Gerindra party, confirmed yesterday that he had been asked by Mr Joko to join the Cabinet to help with the defence portfolio.

"We have been asked to strengthen the Cabinet and we are ready to help," he told reporters at the presidential palace in Jakarta, after meeting Mr Joko, 58.

The former general would not say if he had been asked to become defence minister, as widely speculated, but would only say that he had been asked to assist the President in the area of defence.

"I will work as hard as I can to meet his goals and expectations," he added.

The Cabinet line-up, due to be revealed tomorrow, will include ride-hailing firm Gojek co-founder Nadiem Makarim.

Mr Nadiem confirmed he had been offered a position following a meeting at the presidential palace yesterday.

The chief executive of Gojek told reporters he has resigned from all positions at the ride-hailing firm.

 
 
 
 

"The President discussed with me about human resources, bureaucratic reform and efforts to boost investment," Mr Nadiem said, without elaborating on the position he will be filling. The 35-year-old had previously been linked to a possible Cabinet post in a new digital economy ministry or in education.

The firm, valued at US$10 billion (S$13.6 billion) confirmed the news in a statement, saying Gojek group president Andre Soelistyo and co-founder Kevin Aluwi are taking over as co-CEOs.

Mr Joko, popularly known as Jokowi, hinted after his inauguration on Sunday that he would be introducing the members of his Cabinet the next day. But the media soon realised this meant candidates would turn up at the palace yesterday for interviews.

Former constitutional chief Mahfud MD, who was at the palace, said the final line-up will only be known tomorrow. Mr Mahfud said he was asked to join the Cabinet, to help improve law enforcement and human rights in Indonesia.

"The President discussed with me quite thoroughly about human rights, law enforcement... and cited a survey that revealed a weakening of law enforcement in Indonesia in the past year, and said there was a need to work harder in this area," Mr Mahfud said.

He added, however, that he was not told by the President which Cabinet position he would fill.

A palace presidential officer said President Joko was scheduled to meet and interview up to 15 candidates yesterday.

South Minahasa regent Christiany Eugenia Paruntu, a Golkar politician, was among the candidates who turned up.

Mr Airlangga Hartarto, who has been serving as industry minister and is chairman of the Golkar party, which has the second largest number of Parliament seats, also had a meeting with Mr Joko.

Mr Airlangga said that they discussed the country's trade numbers and the overall economy.

Another candidate who showed up at the presidential palace was Mr Erick Thohir, a media tycoon and chairman of Mr Joko's re-election campaign team, who could potentially be the new trade minister.

Television veteran Wishnutama, who goes by one name, also turned up, and could be put in charge of innovation, arts and culture.

Mr Joko was expected to vet candidates proposed by political parties, as well as non-partisan technocrats and professionals.

While he has the prerogative to appoint ministers and replace any underperforming Cabinet member at any time during his five-year term, Mr Joko can be hobbled by an active Parliament if he chooses to go against its wishes.

Analysts say that in filling Cabinet posts, the President has to balance political stability with competency when considering candidates proposed by parties backing him.

They add that Mr Joko plans to appoint candidates with no party links for certain posts, such as that of Attorney-General and those overseeing law and human rights, state-owned enterprises and energy and mineral resources.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 22, 2019, with the headline 'Prabowo accepts role in Jokowi's new Cabinet'. Print Edition | Subscribe