Jokowi's Initiation Rite
    Category: Column By : Jusuf Wanandi Read : 824 Date : Tuesday, May 05, 2015 - 10:48:00

    President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) personifies People Power.  As such, he would help change Indonesia to become more democratic and less corrupt. Some of his good policies are:
    • An energy subsidy cut;
    • Changes in social policies to be more oriented towards low-income people;
    • Better and more transparent governance through his unannounced visits to places across Indonesia known as blusukan.

    However, as a leader he lacks national-level experience, and that has made him stumble in forming a cabinet including some members who are considered incompetent—the result of political compromises. Also, as a political neophyte in national politics, he lacks a wide circle of friends and supporters to advise him. He has yet to form a full-fledged team of presidential staff to advise him and be his operatives.  

    Therefore, the nomination of Budi Gunawan as the new Chief of the National Police was another mistake, because his pick failed to fulfil his pledge of incorruptibility and was openly protested by those who should be his supporters. Meanwhile, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) used this opportunity to declare Budi a suspect, and be indicted for corruption.

    On KPK, there is also a feeling that its commissioners under its head Abraham Samad were playing politics with an institution that should be an independent and neutral legal body. Jokowi bravely decided to simultaneously solve both issues—one to cancel Budi Gunawan’s appointment despite DPR’s approval, and took the acting Head of the Police, Badrodin Haiti, as the new candidate, and he was eventually appointed as head.

    Then he also released Abraham Samad and his deputy Bambang Wijayanto, and appointed three acting commissioners headed by the former first head of KPK, Taufiqurrahman Ruki. This put KPK back into a conservative mode.

    It was a balanced decision, and well-received by the public. It could help future relations between the police and KPK, which is a critical relationship. Jokowi had been the successful candidate of the Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan (PDI-P) in the mayoralty (Solo), gubernatorial (Jakarta) and presidential elections. However, as president there are no specific rules that refer to his relationship with the party, especially with Chairperson Megawati Sukarnoputri, on decision-making and policy implementation. This lacunae, unfortunately, helped create unnecessary misunderstanding between the two on policies as was on the case of Budi Gunawan.

    One cardinal principle, however, has to be clear, namely it is the president’s authority concerning state policies.  Also, it is imperative for Jokowi to have a good political team to advise him according to his needs, and help prevent future opposition from the party.  On the KPK, it should remain as a legal institution and not become a political body.

    On the cabinet, since Jokowi made compromises that resulted in a mediocre cabinet, he should seriously entertain a reshuffle in the near future. The world economy, including East Asia’s, has slowed down, and uncertainties remain—including for Indonesia’s economy. So the urgency in reforming the cabinet is not an idea to be lightly taken. Time is of the essence here.