“Distribution of power is valid and legal” as Jokowi appoints 12 Deputy Ministers

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President Joko Widodo is together with Vice President Maruf Amin and the 12 Deputy Ministers at the National Palace, Jakarta, Friday (25/10/2019). (photo: Doc. SEKNEG)

IO, Jakarta – Other than appointing 34 ministers and 4 minister-level officials, President Joko Widodo also appointed 12 Deputy Ministers at the Presidential Palace on Friday (25/10/2019). There are many pros and cons about the 12 new Deputy Ministers designated to 11 Ministries. Some consider it to be unnecessary, with a concern of a potential power struggle in the ministries, while others think it to be a necessity.

The House of Representatives (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat Republik Indonesia – “DPR RI”) Speaker Puan Maharani stated that the post of Deputy Minister is necessary to help ministers make ministerial decisions, execute work programs and contracts, and provide additional recommendations and considerations to a minister in executing the ministry’s duties and functions. “Deputy Ministers also ensure that work programs are delivered properly and the people feel their benefits, i.e. by controlling and monitoring the execution of ministerial duties and functions,” Puan stated after attending the inauguration of “Advancing Indonesia” Cabinet Deputy Ministers at the Presidential Palace, Jakarta, on Friday (25/10/2019).

She further urges all ministers and Deputy ministers to work together harmoniously as a perquisite set by President Jokowi. “If both walk in the same direction, half of the issues in the ministries are resolved,” she said.  “DPR as the institution with the monitoring, legislation, and budgeting functions is ready to become a partner of the ministries and State agencies.”

DPR’s National Democrat Faction Secretary Saan Mustofa suggests that people not quarrel overmuch in response to the appointment of the 12 Deputy Ministers. “We should let these Deputy Ministers do their work first,” said Saan. “How can we tell whether they are capable or not, when they have not started working? Let us not underestimate them for not having proven their performance yet. Let them do the work first.”

Saan further stated that according to law, if a Deputy Minister is deemed to be ineffective, there are constitutional routes that would allow for corrections to be made. Even though a lot of people think that the existence of Deputy Ministers is actually not in line with President Joko Widodo’s aspiration of a slimmer bureaucracy, naturally he has his own considerations. Perhaps he believes that these ministries have to face such difficult challenges that they require the assistance of a Deputy Minister.

Meanwhile, Political Communications Experts from Pelita Harapan University Dr. Emrus Sihombing stated that the term used for distribution of power, i.e. the “distribution of seats,” has a negative connotation. However, Deputy Ministers must also be considered to be part of the attempt to distribute power or delegate duties by the government to its staff for the sake of effectiveness. “It is incorrect if we say that the creation of Deputy Ministers is meant to be a distribution of the pie. The proper term in political communication is “distribution of power.” We divide duties and authorities in order to make government more effective. After all, Indonesia does have many tasks, duties, and authorities that must be discharged correctly,” he said in Jakarta on Saturday (26/10/2019).

He further stated that if the position of Deputy Minister is being disputed in case of distribution of power, there is actually nothing to be debated, as distribution of power is a legal, valid, and legitimate mechanism to distribute duties and authorities in the Government. “The term ‘distribution of power’ is a legitimate one. It is a natural thing, and it adheres to the division of duties and authorities in the field and capacity of the relevant Vice Minister. It is not arbitrary,” Emrus said.

However, in order to prevent polemics, Emrus Sihombing believes that it would be good for the Presidential Palace to openly explain what the Deputy Minister position entails, what are its functions and purposes. “The President, or at least the Presidential Palace, should make a public statement concerning the position of deputy Minister. If it were meant to be a mere slicing of the pie without the appointed persons having the proper capability standard for their position, then it should be corrected. However, if the position is meant as a distribution of power, there is nothing wrong with that. It is legitimate, and it is not a problem,” he said. (Dan)

12 Deputy Ministers in the Indonesia Onward Cabinet

1.    Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs: Mahendra Siregar

2.    Deputy Minister of Defense: Wahyu Sakti Trenggono

3.    Deputy Minister of Religious Affairs: Zainut Tauhid Sa’adi

4.    Deputy Minister of Finance: Suahasil Nazara

5.    Deputy Minister of Trade: Jerry Sambuaga

6.    Deputy Minister of Public Works and People’s Housing: John Wempi Wetipo

7.    Deputy Minister of the Environment and Forestry: Alue Dohong

8.    Deputy Minister of Villages, Development of Underdeveloped Areas, and Transmigration: Budi Arie Setiadi

9.    Deputy Minister of Agrarian Issues and Spatial Planning/Deputy Chairman of the National Land Agency: Surya Tjandra

10.  Deputy Minister of State-owned Enterprises: Budi Gunadi Sadikin

11.  Deputy Minister of State-owned Enterprises: Kartika Wiryoatmojo

12.  Deputy Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy: Angela Hary Tanoesoedibjo