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Indonesia president-elect goes online to choose Cabinet members

Publication Date : 25-07-2014

 

Social media played a major role in his presidential-election victory and now Indonesia president-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has embraced the same tool to recruit his ministers.

This is seen to help ease pressure on Jokowi from people seeking places in the Cabinet, enable him to get the people's opinion on possible candidates and boost his efforts to win over his opponents.

Amid rumours and media speculation about his Cabinet choices after he is sworn in as president on Oct. 20, Jokowi and his team have produced an online poll called “People’s Choice for an Alternative Cabinet” published on jokowicenter.com.

In the survey, the team is putting forward three different names for each ministerial post in a Cabinet of 34 ministers. The poll also provides an option should respondents wish to propose another name. It is expected citizens will respond enthusiastically to this Indonesian Idol style of recruitment as it will be the first time they have been involved in Cabinet formation.

“The selection of ministers is the prerogative of the president, but that does not mean the people cannot participate,” the team says in the introduction.

Jokowi, who was officially declared on Tuesdat the winner of the July 9 presidential election along with his running mate Jusuf Kalla, confirmed that he was fully aware of the online recruitment operation. However, he quickly added that it was just one of his methods for forming his administration.

When asked about the poll, Jokowi said on Thursday, “I just want to gather the public’s views. That’s okay, isn’t it?”

“Up to this point, we have not talked about who will fill which position. Once again, this is only to seek input from the people,” said Jokowi, who is scheduled to tender his resignation as Jakarta governor later this month.

Several big names have been tossed into the hat. Former Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University rector Azyumardi Azra has been touted as a potential religious affairs minister, while popular economists including National Economic Council member Aviliani, Gadjah Mada University (UGM) academic Sri Adiningsih and energy expert Kurtubi have been suggested as potential candidates to fill economic posts.

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politicians, including Rieke Dyah Pitaloka, Pramono Anung, Maruarar Sirait, Puan Maharani, Hasto Kristiyanto and Eva Kusuma Sundari are also on the list.

From the current Cabinet, Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Mari Elka Pangestu, Coordinating Economic Minister Chairul Tanjung, Bank Indonesia (BI) Governor Agus Martowardojo, former trade minister Gita Wirjawan and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan are also among the favorites.

The poll also includes some prominent figures from the camp of Jokowi’s rival Prabowo Subianto. Among them are Religious Affairs Minister and United Development Party (PPP) deputy chairman Lukman Hakim Saifuddin and Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil from the Gerindra Party.

The poll has generally received a warm welcome from netizens. Sitti Rahmani Alwan, a post-graduate student from the University of Indonesia (UI), said the poll was evidence that Jokowi was really listening to the people.

“It’s good that Jokowi is taking into account people’s suggestions in arranging his Cabinet. When filling out the poll, I was amazed that the most proposed names were well-regarded figures,” she said, noting that her favourite choice was Anies Baswedan for the education and culture minister post.  

Director of social media pollster PoliticaWave, Yose Rizal, praised Jokowi’s strategy. “Indonesia has more than 70 million netizens, with a majority of them well educated and over 34 years of age,” he said.

While welcoming Jokowi’s move, UGM political analyst Ari Dwipayana suggested the president-elect needed to carefully assess the structure of his new Cabinet.

“Before releasing the poll, Jokowi should have decided whether to retain all the existing 34 ministerial posts or restructure some of them.

“Jokowi should also discuss with the public about the criteria of an ideal minister. Then, he could propose some names based on those criteria,” he said in a telephone interview.

 

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