The President of Indonesia selects the Cabinet, appointing the Head of the opposition as Minister of Defense

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October 23, 2019 16:29:41

The Indonesians have expressed disappointment for the Indonesian president Joko Widodo, who has chosen the leader of the opposition Prabowo Subianto as defense minister in his new cabinet.

Key points:

  • The leader of the opposition Prabowo Subianto joins Widodo's coalition as defense minister
  • Subianto is linked to human rights violations during the authoritarian rule of President Suharto
  • Many Indonesians fear that a unilateral government may also threaten human rights in the country

Widodo unveiled the government for his second term on Wednesday, choosing the former industry minister Airlangga Hartarto as head of his economic team and maintaining economist Sri Mulyani Indrawati as finance minister.

Subianto, leader of the opposition in Widodo's first term and sole challenger in the hard-fought April poll, was chosen as defense minister, Widodo said.

The co-founder and managing director of the Indonesian company Gojek for the collection and payment of horses was appointed Minister of Education and Culture.

Arifin Tasrif, former head of the state fertilizer manufacturer, was appointed Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources.

President Luhut Pandjaitan's long-term ally has in the meantime maintained his role as coordinator minister for maritime affairs, which also oversees the natural resources and investment sector.

Fears of an Indonesian oligarchy system

Indonesian experts have stated that the new Council of Ministers legitimizes the threat of an oligarchy system in Indonesia, as many of the new ministers come from high-profile companies.

Many Indonesians have also expressed anger at the choice of Mr. Subodo by Mr. Subianto as defense minister.

They also expressed their disappointment in a now tiny opposition, fearing that a unilateral government could threaten the future of human rights in the country.

Nine people died in Jakarta at the beginning of this year when diehard Subianto supporters rebelled after losing the presidential election.

The riots were the worst political violence in the capital over the past two decades.

However, Subianto said he would join his electoral rival's cabinet to help strengthen the country's defense, signaling an easing of political tensions.

The Subianto camp had previously accused the government of "systemic" electoral fraud and urged supporters to take to the streets to oppose the official result at all costs.

Widodo, who was sworn in for his second term on Sunday (local time), said Indonesians should unite after the bitter election campaign.

Subianto, who is also the founder and leader of the Gerindra Party, was negotiating with the Widodo ruling coalition for government positions after the April split elections.

"We have been asked to strengthen the Council of Ministers in the defense area and we are ready to help," Subianto told reporters after meeting with Widodo in the presidential palace.

"I will work hard to achieve its goals and expectations."

Suprapti McLeod, an Indonesian citizen based in Canberra who worked for the Jokowi campaign in Australia, told ABC to be disappointed. Mr. Widodo has aligned himself with Mr. Subianto's Gerindra party.

"A true democracy should have an opposition," he said, claiming that it would be better for Subianto to remain in opposition.

"Otherwise, who else will criticize the government?

"We can't expect Jokowi to be the perfect president … (but) I still have hope."

Amrih Widodo, a professor at the Australian National University, said that Gerindra's entry into the ruling coalition would be both "strange and historic".

Indonesia still lives with a legacy of oligarchy and corruption left by the regime of the New Order of Suharto, he added.

Widodo's Indonesian Democratic Fighting Party (PDIP) has been led by former president Megawati Soekarnoputri since he founded the party in the 90s.

Controversy over subplantation

Subianto, linked to human rights violations during the authoritarian rule of longtime president Suharto, also unsuccessfully challenged his presidential election loss against Widodo in 2014 and has now made four unsuccessful bids for the presidency.

Subianto's entry into the Cabinet was a conservative backlash against Widodo's efforts to address the human rights problem in Indonesia, said Indonesian researcher Andreas Harsono.

"It is a dark day for human rights and justice in Indonesia," said Harsono.

Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation in the world, is an outpost of democracy in a neighborhood of authoritarian governments in Southeast Asia and is expected to be among the world's largest economies by 2030.

Widodo's second term could further cement the country's two decades of democratization and see progress in its signature policy for upgrading the inadequate infrastructure of the sprawling nation.

Subianto, which has allied itself with groups that want to prevail in Islamic law rather than secular law, has won great victories in the conservative provinces, but Widodo has prevailed at the national level with the support of the main Muslim organizations and minority voters.

During the meeting with Widodo, Subianto expressed his support for the President's plan to move the national capital to the eastern Kalimantan of Borneo, a province in which it is said that Subianto and his brother, Hashim Djojohadikusumo, own about 220,000 hectares of land.

The outgoing vice president of Widodo, Jusuf Kalla, told Indonesian media in February that Subianto bought the land five years ago.

"In the national interest, I believe we must unite," said Subianto after meeting the President.

"We are ready to help."

ABC / Fili

Themes:

world-politics,

government and politics,

Indonesia,

Asia

First published

October 23, 2019 15:58:47

. (tagsToTranslate) indonesia (t) cabinet (t) jokowi (t) prabowo subianto (t) joko widodo (t) election (t) gerindra (t) Indonesian democratic party of struggle

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