President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono provided a glimpse into his new cabinet on Monday, and the key word seemed to be “synergy” as he appointed those cosidered close to him and able to work well together with other cabinet members.
The president announced that Gita Wirjawan, currently the chairman of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), will be the new trade minister, replacing Mari Elka Pangestu. Rumors have it that Mari will replace Jero Wacik as culture and tourism minister.
Mari is said to disagree often with other ministers, particularly Industry Minister M.S. Hidayat, over import policies.
“In her new position Mari is the right person because she has experience in promoting Indonesia’s creative industry and tourism,” said Adi Tahir, former chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce (Kadin).
Gita, 46, graduated from Harvard University with a master’s degree in public administration.
Prior to starting his own investment company, Ancora Capital, in 2008, he worked for JP Morgan Indonesia and Goldman Sachs in Singapore.
Gita is also a passionate composer and musician. He has produced several jazz albums for other musicians.
“As BKPM head he has forged partnerships with other countries,” Adi said. “The business community hopes he will also strengthen ties between the trade and industry ministries because it is vital for the economy.”
Yudhoyono appointed Dahlan Iskan, currently the president of state electricity company Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN), as state-owned enterprises minister, replacing Mustafa Abubakar.
Dahlan was appointed to lead PLN in 2009. He is also president director of two private power plants, Cahaya Fajar Kaltim in East Kalimantan and Prima Electric Power in Surabaya.
“I am crying, actually,” Dahlan said. “I told the president that I am saddened to leave PLN because my friends there are working hard.”
The 60-year-old is a former CEO of the Jawa Pos daily newspaper. He started his journalism career in the 1970s, working for Tempo magazine.
Dahlan, who underwent a liver transplant in 2007, worried about whether he would pass the required health test. “We’ll see what happens,” he said.
Officials from the ministry had very little to say about Dahlan’s appointment.
“I haven’t met him so I don’t know much about him,” said Parikesit Suprapto, a deputy director at the ministry.
Dahlan’s predecessor, Mustafa, has been battling a heart condition, forcing him to spend more time in hospitals than at work.
Mustafa has also been criticized over irregularities in the initial public offering of state-owned Krakatau Steel.
Hatta Rajasa, the coordinating minister for the economy, said he was not worried about Dahlan’s health condition.
“Dahlan has recuperated 100 percent,” he said. “The president must have taken his health into account. This is the best decision, and it is done.”
After announcing that his legal adviser, Denny Indrayana, would be the new deputy justice minister, the president on Monday named Democratic Party chief adviser Amir Syamsuddin as justice and human rights minister. He replaces the much-criticized Patrialis Akbar of the National Mandate Party (PAN).
Patrialis said he welcomed Yudhoyono’s decision.
“I am sure Amir can perform well because he is my senior and friend,” he said.
Amir is a seasoned lawyer who founded the law office Syamsuddin & Partners in 1983. He also founded the Acemark firm, which specializes in intellectual property rights. Amir graduated from the University of Indonesia, where he earned his bachelors, master’s and doctoral degree in law.
Despite Patrialis’ removal, PAN will still hold three seats in Yudhoyono’s cabinet. The president appointed PAN lawmaker Azwar Abubakar as the minister for state administrative reform, replacing E. E. Mangindaan from the Democratic Party.
Azwar, 59, is currently a legislator at the House of Representatives’ Commission I, overseeing defense and foreign affairs. He was the acting Aceh governor from mid-2004 to the end of 2005 during the province’s transitional period that marked the end of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), which until then had waged an armed rebellion that lasted more than 30 years.
Azwar is a member of the PAN advisory board and the head of the party’s Aceh chapter.
“Azwar is an Aceh politician and senior figure at the PAN. So Yudhoyono is killing two birds with one stone by gaining support from the PAN and Aceh at the same time,” said Nasir Djamil, a Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician who is Azwar’s colleague at the House.
Several prominent Aceh figures have welcomed Azwar’s appointment, calling him “the best son of Aceh.”
Yudhoyono replaced Public Housing Minister Suharso Monoarfa with Jakarta City Council member Djan Faridz.
Djan is a senior figure from the United Development Party (PPP). He had been eyeing the Jakarta governorship, and in that endeavor was supported by the PPP and the People’s Conscience Party (Hanura).
“I have been entrusted by the president with a role at the Public Housing Ministry. Hopefully I can pass the health test tomorrow,” he said.
The 61-year-old is known as an experienced businessman who has dabbled in several industries, including property. Djan is a former member of the Indonesian Young Entrepreneurs Association (Hipmi) and is currently chairman of the Jakarta chapter of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization.
Suharso, also from the PPP, resigned on Monday amid speculation that he would be replaced. His ongoing divorce has worried the State Palace, but analysts also said that as a minister he failed to produce any major breakthroughs.
Yudhoyono named a former commander of the Presidential Guard, Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman, to his cabinet as well. The former head of the Jakarta Military Command will take over as State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief from Gen. Sutanto.
“He is from the military and knows a lot about intelligence issues,” said Max Sopacua of the Democratic Party.
Max said Marciano, who currently heads the Army Education and Training Center, should be able to tackle security issues like terrorism and separatism.
Mufti Makaarim, executive director of the Institute for Defense, Security and Peace, said the president could be aiming to secure his party’s position ahead of the 2014 polls by naming someone close to him as the BIN chief. However, Max said Marciano was appointed for his professionalism and experience.
Sutanto, a former National Police chief, served as the BIN chief for less than a year.