Ministers Take Posts With High Hopes

The Jakarta Globe

Ministers Take Posts With High Hopes

Arientha Primanita, Ismira Lutfia, Rizky Amelia & Elisabeth Oktofani


Pledges, promises and painful farewells concluded the month-long cabinet reshuffle saga with newly appointed ministers promised to form fresh policies while the outgoing ones pleaded with them to see their policies through to completion.

Law Enforcement

New Minister of Justice and Human Rights Amir Syamsuddin and his deputy Denny Indrayana pledged to end the ministry’s much-criticized policy of awarding corruption and terrorism convicts with remissions, parole and other privileges, a legacy that blighted the administration of the outgoing minister Patrialis Akbar.

“Remissions for cases of corruption, terrorism and organized crime will be stopped,” said Denny, a former presidential staff member for legal affairs.

Amir said his ministry would also focus on “de-radicalizing” terrorism convicts, saying that he would forge relationships with religious leaders as well as sociologists and counter-terrorism bodies.

The program was first introduced under former minister Andi Mattalatta, making convicts sit together with religious clerics in the hope that the discussion would correct their views on Islam.

But terrorism analysts say the program has been ineffective in preventing terrorists from reoffending. In fact, prison has proven to be an effective incubator for radical ideologies and recruitment ground for militias.

Patrialis, who shed tears as he bid farewell to his former subordinates, said he would become an academic. Some students from the immigration academy even read out a poem written as a tribute for the outgoing minister.

The students then lined up to escort Patrialis and his wife out of the building while some ministry officials sang farewell songs and others waved him goodbye.

Meanwhile, the newly appointed State Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Lt. Gen. Marciano Norman said he would focus on creating “synergy” with other institutions.

“I will try all I can to synergize with all sides whether it is the BNPT [National Counter Terrorism Agency], the National Police or the TNI [military]. I must help the BIN to forge inter-department relationships,” he said.

Marciano said multi-institutional cooperation was the only way to go to bring peace and stability to the country.

Tourism to Energy

At the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry, outgoing minister Jero Wacik asked successor Mari Elka Pangestu continue his unfinished programs.

“If you come up with new ideas, go ahead. This is not an intervention but a request. If [the old programs] are not continued, I will be heartbroken,” he said.

Jero, who was appointed to be the new Energy and Mineral Resource Minister, said he still dreamed of restoring the Majapahit garden in Trowulan, Central Java, as well as making Belitung island an international tourism destination.

“I would not have been chosen as energy minister if I had achieved nothing as tourism minister. But I wouldn’t have been such a high-achieving tourism minister without anyone supporting me,” he told his former subordinates in an outgoing address.

The ministry has been renamed the Tourism and Creative Economy Ministry. Mari said the creative economy aspect of her new role posed an exciting new challenge for her.

“It is something remarkable that we have a ministry that manages and develops a creative economy,” she said.

Mari, previously trade minister, said that a blueprint for a creative economy was devised in 2008, adding that the industry contributes around 7.6 percent, or Rp 140 trillion ($16 billion), to the economy.

She said that the industry also made up about 10 percent of Indonesia’s exports, employing around 7 percent of the country’s workforce of 110 million people.

Mari said her ministry would need to sit down with the Education Ministry, which has been renamed the Ministry of Education and Culture.

“We will discuss what will be the [education ministry’s] responsibility,” she said.

Research, Technology & Environment

Newly appointed Research and Technology Minister Gusti Muhammad Hatta said he would focus on horticultural technology and genetic engineering for agricultural products to boost Indonesia’s food resilience in the face of global climate change.

“Technological innovations are needed to respond to the looming global food crisis,” the minister said.

Gusti, who previously served as environment minister, said there needed to be research to produce a new rice variety that was more resilient in the changing climate. The current variety, he said, no longer suits rising temperatures, causing food shortages and famines.

His experience as an environment minister, he said, allowed him to learn that access to clean water should also be made a priority, particularly to areas prone to drought.

A technological breakthrough is needed to address the problem, he said, adding that the government had focused too much on short-term solutions of disaster mitigation and relief aid. “We have to work together to produce something useful,” he said.

Gusti’s position at the Environment Ministry was filled by Balthasar Kambuaya, a former rector of Cendrawasih University in Papua. Balthasar said that although his background was economics, he was confident he would be able to resolve environmental issues.

“You just have to believe in yourself. I am sure [environmental problems] will be resolved,” he said. Balthasar was the university’s dean of the economics faculty between 2001 and 2004 before being appointed as its rector.

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