Jokowi’s new Cabinet shows commitment to fight extremism, improve education: Analysts

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodos surprise move to invite his political rival and a young, successful entrepreneur to be part of the Cabinet signalled his determination in combating radicalism and improving education, analysts said.

The line-up unveiled on Wednesday (Oct 23) included former general Mr Prabowo Subianto, who challenged Mr Jokowi in the past two elections, as defence minister, and Gojek co-founder Mr Nadiem Makarim as education minister.



The Cabinet is formed to deliver the presidents priorities, observed Mr Edbert Gani, political economist from Jakarta-based think-tank Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

"The president chose a Cabinet that he could control, with some professional figures placed at the top," he said. More than half of the 38 officials are from professional background.

In his first presidential speech on Sunday at the start of his second term in office, Mr Widodo has outlined the key focus of his administration in the next five years – improving human resources, enhancing infrastructure, simplifying regulations and bureaucracy, and transforming the economy.

The ministers are facing tough challenges ahead, analysts said, as public confidence in Mr Widodo has declined due to a slew of issues such as the deadly riots in West Papua, the proposed amendments to the criminal code and the forest and land fires.



Mr Widodo told the ministers on Wednesday that they should not harbour their own agendas.

They must champion the visions and missions of the president and vice president, he added, and steer clear of corruption.

“Everyone has to work seriously. Those who dont work seriously, I can fire them midway,” he warned.

READ: Indonesia Cabinet unveiled, taps opposition and Gojek founder


Radicalism is a serious problem in Muslim-majority Indonesia and it appeared to be a huge concern of Mr Widodo, noted Mr Gani.

Indonesia has seen a string of terror attacks in recent years, and two weeks ago, now-former security minister Wiranto was stabbed by a terrorist.

Anti-terror policemen walk during a raid of a house of a suspected terrorist at Medokan Ayu area in Surabaya, Indonesia May 15, 2018. (Photo: REUTERS/Sigit Pamungkas)

Mr Widodos two-time presidential rival Mr Subianto is expected to tackle these challenges as he has expertise in the field of defence and radicalism.

One of his tasks would be anticipating threats, including radical ideologies.

Mr Gani warned that Mr Jokowis loyal supporters would be disappointed with the appointment of Mr Subianto to the important portfolio.

“The question remains whether it would undermine political stability,” he said.

During the election campaign, Mr Subianto was backed by Muslim hardliners.

There were allegations linking him to human rights abuses during the dictatorship of former president Soeharto. He was formerly married to Mr Soehartos daughter.

Indonesian Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto gestures towards journalists as President Joko Widodo unveils his new cabinet on the steps of the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Oct 23, 2019. (Photo: AFP/Adek Berry)

Mr Subianto is also believed to be blacklisted by the United States, but terrorism and intelligence expert Mr Riyanta believed that the US would take realistic steps in dealing with Indonesia.

“It doesnt want to intervene too much (in Indonesias politic), or else China might move in and take advantage of the situation,” he told CNA.

READ: Indonesia's Widodo faces test on reform credentials in second term

Mr Subianto's appointment aside, the analysts also noted that the religion and home affair portfolios were also given to candidates with military and police background.

Retired general Fachrul Razi was assigned the religion portfolio, while Mr Tito Karnavian, who until recently was the countrys police chief, would head the home affairs ministry.

Mr Stanislau Riyanta, terrorism and intelligence expert from the University of Indonesia, said Mr Karnavian's expertise in the field of radicalism and terrorism could come in handy to curb the trend of civil servants becoming radicalised.

Nonetheless, these appointments alarmed human rights activists and civil society groups, Mr Gani noted, adding that they fear freedom of opinion would be compromised.

"The security approach in the composition of the Cabinet feels thick," he said.


While the appointment of Gojek co-founder Mr Makarim, 35, is touted as a right move towards technology adaptation and human resource development, analysts warned that the Harvard-educated innovator may struggle with bureaucracy.

“I believe Nadiem Makarim will bring along his innovative ideas, but being a minister need more than just great ideas and execution.

“The ability to manage bureaucracy is his homework,” political analyst Mr Yunarto Wijaya from think-tank Charta Politika told CNA.

Nadiem Makarim, founder of the Indonesian ride-hailing and online payment firm Gojek waves to journalists as he arrives at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, Oct 21, 2019. (Photo: Reuters/Willy Kurniawan)

Mr Gani from CSIS concurred, adding that the work culture in the private sector, especially in a start-up like Gojek, is not the same as working in the government.

“There is a bureaucratic chRead More – Source