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With his term ending in few months, Indonesia president feels ignored

Publication Date : 05-06-2014

 

With his final term winding down, Indonesia President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has three times this week chastised Cabinet ministers and military generals for getting involved in the presidential campaign and neglecting their duties.

In a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, coinciding with the start of the 30-day presidential campaign period, Yudhoyono reiterated a statement he made on Tuesday that his ministers should take leave or resign if participating in campaign activities would prevent them from performing their main duties.

On Wednesday, Yudhoyono went even further by saying that according to his own “observation and judgment” some of his ministers were no longer focused on doing their jobs.

“Some ministers have their attention split, including what we see as having difficulty in managing their time between the tasks of the government and political activities,” he told the meeting.

“In various Cabinet meetings or other meetings or coordination meetings led by the coordinating ministers, several ministers have failed to be present. We have our records. Certainly, their absence was not caused by illness, nor because they had other duties.”

Yudhoyono said this conclusion was supported by a Presidential Working Unit for Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4) performance evaluation and input from the coordinating ministers and the Vice President, as well as reports from the public on ministerial performance in the past six months.

A number of ministers have in the past weeks joined the campaign teams of the Prabowo Subianto-Hatta Rajasa and Joko “Jokowi” Widodo-Jusuf Kalla tickets.

The most prominent of Cabinet minister to pursue political ambition was Hatta, resigning as coordinating economic minister in mid-May to run with Prabowo. Chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN), Hatta is also the father-in-law of Yudhoyono’s son.

As of now, at least seven ministers from PAN, the Golkar Party, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and the United Development Party (PPP) are campaigning for Prabowo. Earlier, Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin Iskandar of the National Awakening Party (PKB) declared his party’s support for the presidential bid of Jokowi, and he now serves as a member of his campaign team.

Most recently, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan, the winner of the ruling Democratic Party’s presidential convention, announced his support for Jokowi. According to Dahlan, Yudhoyono had yet to comment on the move.

Additionally, on Monday Yudhoyono gathered senior officers from the Indonesian Military (TNI) and National Police to hear his complaints about disloyalty among some high-ranking officers toward their commander-in-chief, saying “there has been a suggestion that they [the officers] ought to abandon their President and not to listen to him, because he is in ‘a sinking ship’ [...] It is much better to follow a bright new star.”

Speculation was rife at that time that Yudhoyono’s ire was directed at TNI chief Gen. Moeldoko, who had been tapped as a potential running mate for Jokowi.

Meanwhile, political communication expert Effendi Ghazali said Yudhoyono had now begun to realise that he was a lame-duck president.

Effendi also said that although his term would end in October, Yudhoyono must be feeling left out since he was no longer the center of his ministers’ attention.

“Psychologically, he feels that now all the attention is directed toward two new magnets: the two presidential candidates,” Effendi said.

He added that Yudhoyono might now realise that his term would be over sooner than expected, given that the election would be decided in one round of voting.

On Wednesday, Manpower and Transmigration Minister Muhaimin denied that his work on Jokowi’s team was affecting his work as a minister. “Sometimes my job as a minister is not covered by the media while my work in politics is,” he said.

Dahlan also said his political activities did not interfere with his work as a minister, adding that he did not feel the President was questioning his commitment to the Cabinet.

Presidential spokesman for political affairs Daniel Sparingga declined to comment when asked if Yudhoyono was feeling left out.

 

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