Markus Junianto Sihaloho
House of Representatives Speaker Marzuki Alie said on Friday that cabinet members practicing polygamy should not be replaced by the president just because of their personal lives.
“Please don’t reshuffle the cabinet just because [a minister] has two wives. ” Marzuki said.
“As long as it does not violate Shariah law, and if it does not disturb the performance in the cabinet, it’s fine.”
Speaking in Jakarta, Marzuki said it made sense for the president to evaluate the cabinet’s performance since it had been two years since its appointment in 2009.
It is time to push the cabinet to work harder, he added.
“If a minister’s private life affects his performance as minister, then of course the president must consider it,” he said.
“But if it’s not disturbing his performance, it becomes another matter.”
Marzuki stressed that the evaluation should be based on the professional performance of the cabinet members only.
“We have a minister who has two wives, but he can balance everything and it never affects the quality of his work,” he said.
“Many people are living with 10 wives or have four wives, but it doesn’t disturb their work. They can still manage their time.”
While Marzuki asked for private lives to be excluded, conflicting comments came out of the State Palace about the importance of a minister’s personal life.
On Wednesday, State Secretary Sudi Silalahi said President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was worried that the divorce of Housing Affairs Minister Suharso Monoarfa would “influence [Suharso’s] performance.”
“It is a concern for the president,” Sudi added.
His comments came one day after Yudhoyo’s spokesman, Julian Aldrin Pasha, said the proceedings were not expected to affect the cabinet’s work.
“What matters most is the minister’s commitment to the … integrity pact and performance contract,” Julian said.
Suharso, a member of the United Development Party (PPP), previously denied that his marriage to Carolina binti M. Gandhi Kaluku was in trouble.
But Carolina filed for divorce on at the South Jakarta Religious Affairs Court on Monday.
The reason for the filing was not revealed.
Marzuki used Suharso’s situation as an example of separating performance has nothing to do with his personal life.
Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring, the head of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), had been previously criticized for practicing polygamy.
He was identified as a polygamist on a list released by an Indonesian women’s group in 2009, and the allegation plagued his campaign for the information minister’s position.