From Nadiem Makarim to Erick Thohir, accomplished individuals in Jokowi's 'Onward Indonesia Cabinet'

Indonesian President Joko Widodo's and his new "Onward Indonesia Cabinet" at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Oct 23, 2019.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo's and his new "Onward Indonesia Cabinet" at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Oct 23, 2019.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - President Joko Widodo's new "Onward Indonesia Cabinet" includes a number of people who have left a mark in their individual fields.

Dr Terawan Agus Putranto, who served as a doctor to former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, is well known for an unorthodox and controversial treatment for stroke patients dubbed the "brain wash" therapy.

The 55-year old radiologist, who was in general practice and headed an army hospital, has treated thousands of patients, including fellow newly appointed ministers Mahfud MD and Prabowo Subianto.

Dr Terawan has also treated a thousand Vietnamese patients and the government in Hanoi not only approved the treatment but signed a memorandum of understanding designating it as part of medical tourism.

His method, technically known as intra-arterial heparin flushing, is not widely used outside of Indonesia.

As Health Minister, Dr Terawan, a former chairman of the Asean Association of Radiology, will be tackling many pressing issues, including the huge budget deficit in the country's universal healthcare system and the high rate of stunted growth in children mostly due to malnutrition.

Then there is Nadiem Makarim, the co-founder of Indonesia's ride-hailing service Gojek, who was inspired to set up his billion-dollar business after riding daily on motorbike taxis, dubbed "ojek", through heavily congested Jakarta streets.

Beginning from a ride call centre with 20 drivers in 2010, his start-up has transformed into a decacorn - a company valued at more than US$10 billion (S$13.6 billion).

The 35-year-old Harvard graduate, who has been appointed Education and Culture Minister, will now be responsible for "significant breakthroughs" in the development of talent who will be "ready to work and run business", President Joko said when he announced Mr Nadiem's new role.


Mr Nadiem has relinquished all his corporate responsibilities.

Also in Mr Joko's new Cabinet are media and sports tycoon Erick Thohir, former Constitutional Court judge Mahfud MD and media pundit Wishnutama Kusubandio.

Mr Erick is a media tycoon whose company Mahaka Group owns various media outlets from Republika daily, a popular reference for conservative Muslims, to radio station GenFM and TV station JakTV.

A football lover, he expanded his business portfolio and once owned a number of prominent clubs in the US and Europe including Italian football giant Inter Milan, major US soccer league club DC United and the Philadelphia 76ers in the National Basketball Association.

Mr Erick, 49, was named as the head of the president's re-election campaign team last year after he successfully led the organising committee of 2018 Asian Games, which Indonesia hosted.

Under his new role as State-owned Enterprises Minister, he will be tasked to "lead the overseas expansion of Indonesian state-owned companies", Mr Joko said. Indonesia has 115 state-owned companies currently.

Mr Wishnutama is another media executive who co-founded local TV station PT Net Mediatama Televisi. His career in the television industry began in the US and then peaked in Indonesia, where he led local TV stations Trans TV and Trans 7. The 49-year old was the director of the widely praised opening and closing ceremonies of the 2018 Asian Games.

As Tourism and Creative Economy Minister, Mr Wishnutama has been given the task of developing 10 new tourism destinations as well as promote the country's creative industry in a wide range of sectors from music to fashion.

Unlike the other four newcomers, Prof Dr Mahfud MD has the longest track record in politics and public service. A former Constitutional Court judge, the 62-year-old politician held two ministerial posts - defence minister and justice minister - from 2000 to 2001, he is now the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs .

He was touted as a running mate for Mr Joko in the April election, but then the president, following a consensus among political party elites, chose cleric Ma'ruf Amin as the vice-president.