Jokowi appoints 7 millennials to overcome allergy to politics

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The President shares a moment with his special staff. (photo: Prive. Doc)

IO, Jakarta – President Joko Widodo introduced 7 of his new Presidential Special Staff from the millennial generation to the public at Merdeka Palace’s rear yard, Jakarta, on Thursday (21/11/2019). Other than the new Special Staff, Jokowi has a further seven Special Staff of an older generation, both fresh and held over, making a total of 14. “We still keep part of the previous Special Staff. Let me say this, here are my new Special Staff. As for the fields they are in, it is a joint duty,” Jokowi said as he introduced his seven Millennial Special Staff. 

Jokowi stated that his Millenial Staff are of 23-36 years old. He further stated that they need not come to the Palace every day. Their purpose is to serve as the President’s discussion springboard, and they are to provide fresh and innovative ideas to him every day, week, or month – or anytime, anywhere, using the latest technology. “They do not work full time, as they have ordinary work to do every day. It is not necessary to meet up face to face, but we will probably meet once a week or once every two weeks,” Jokowi said. 

Jokowi’s appointment of Millennials is his attempt to “lift up” the young. These Millennial Special Staff generally have backgrounds that are far from politics, as well as worthy achievements in their track records. He asks them to contribute to Indonesia’s political dynamics in order to help cure the notorious “allergy to politics” in their generation. He expects them to provide fresh input for the future management of the nation, and to provide him with relevant and current information that will help him generate effective policies. 

Following President Jokowi’s footsteps, Vice President Ma’ruf Amin in turn has appointed 8 Vice Presidential Special Staff, half of them coming from the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU). “The first consideration, I think, is because this is within the authority of the Vice President. It naturally depends on whether or not the Vice President is comfortable with them,” said the Vice President’s spokesman and Special Staff Masduki Baidlowi at the Vice President’s Office, Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara, Central Jakarta, on Monday (25/11/2019). 

Therefore, President Jokowi and Vice President Maruf Amin have a total of 22 Special Staff equal to Echelon I officials. Unlike Jokowi, however, who appointed half of his Special Staff from the younger generation, Ma’ruf Amin appointed most of his Special Staff from the older generation. “Because Mr. President has already recruited Millennials, it is important for us to have all generations of society represented, all social strata represented, whether Millennial or colonial. It is no wonder that for a kiyai (religious elder), he would choose elders. It does not compromise their competence,” Masduki said. 

Primary Expert Staff of the Presidential Staff Office (Kantor Staff Presiden – “KSP”) Rawanda W. Tuturoong believes that President Joko Widodo has recruited these young people into the Government in order to generate breakthroughs in problem-solving in general. “I have high hopes for these youngsters in the Government. There is naturally a lot of pessimism etc., but everyone shares the same doubt at first before they become successful. Therefore, it is possible to think that important ideas can come from the young people who enter the Government in order to generate change,” Rawanda said in the discussion titled “Indonesia’s Development in Jokowi’s Second Term” of the Mata Milenial show held at Gado-gado Boplo restaurant, Jakarta, on Tuesday (26/11/2019). 

Rawanda is optimistic that the entry of young figures, such as former Gojek Indonesia CEO Nadiem Makarim as a Minister and the appointment of seven youngsters as President’s Special Staff, will bring about changes. “We need breakthroughs, out of the box, non-linear innovations. That is what we need to do in order to be able to leap forward,” he said. “We can no longer walk slowly and start from zero – we need to get to a certain point and make the leap. I really hope we can pull this off. Challenges tend to change easily nowadays, especially in the digital era. We never know what will come up.” 

Cyrus Network’s observer Hasan Nasbi interprets Jokowi’s action as a message for the older generation in various Government agencies: they must be open to the ideas for change offered by the young. “That’s a message to us: we need to be open to new ideas, to the spirit of the time. We need to open ourselves to the young – they have amazing ideas and we need to embrace them. They may not be at level of practicality, but I believe that their ideas will be extremely helpful to the President – especially since they all have good backgrounds and track records.” 

Hasan believes that Jokowi is making the effort to combine the strengths of the younger generation and their elders. The younger generation has creativity, energy, and unique ideas on one hand, while the elder generation has experience, mature skills, and wisdom. “The elder generation may have no leaps of ideas. They might stumble in their response to the progress of today. Therefore, they need ideas, but where do ideas come from? The young! However, these youngsters lack experience even though they have energy and creativity. So many “out of the box” ideas and energy, and it will be amazing for us all if the State is able to support them,” he said. 

The Government’s sweetener 
Meanwhile, Al-Azhar University’s political observer Ujang Komarudin states that it is only natural that the public should harbor doubts about the Millennial Special Staff Jokowi has appointed. “This is because they really do lack experience in governing, and their political performance is yet to be tested. Let’s just hope that these seven Special Staff will not end up just becoming Palace decorations, a sweetener for the Government,” he said. 

Ujang then highlights the fact that the Special Staff are from the elites, people who have never been directly in touch with the lower classes. He thinks that there is a good chance that Jokowi appointed young Special Staff merely to get Millennials’ sympathy. Even more, they are paid for their freelance work at IDR 51 million a month. “This is a waste of the Government’s money, especially since their job description is vague and they do not come in for work every day,” he said. 

The amount of Special Staff wages is regulated in the Presidential Regulation Number 144 of 2015 concerning the Amount of Financial Rights for Presidential Special Staff, Vice President Special Staff, and the President’s Deputy Secretary, Assistants, and Deputy Assistants. Article 5 of the Presidential Regulation states that the financial compensation consists of the overall earnings received, including basic pay, performance incentive, and income tax. 

President Jokowi’s Special Staff: 
1. Angkie Yudistia, Founder of Thisable Enterprise 

2. Aminuddin Ma’ruf, Former General Chairman of the Indonesian Islamic College Student Movement (Pergerakan Mahasiswa Islam Indonesia – “PMII”) (2014-2017) 

3. Adamas Belva Syah Devara, Founder of Ruang Guru 

4. Ayu Kartika Dewi, Formulator of the Sabang-Merauke Movement 

5. Putri Indahsari Tanjung, CEO and Founder of Creativepreneur 

6. Andi Taufan Garuda Putra, CEO of Amarta. 

7. Gracia Billy Mambrasar, CEO Kitong Bisa 

8. Anak Agung Gde Ngurah Ari Dwipayana, academician 

9. Sukardi Rinakit, intellectual, Special Staff in Politics 

10. Arif Budimanta, Megawati Institute economist, Special Staff in Economics 

11. Diaz Hendropriyono, General Chairman of the Indonesian Justice and Unity Party (Partai Keadilan dan Persatuan Indonesia – “PKPI”, Special Staff in Social Issues 

12. Dini Shanti Purwono, Indonesian Solidarity (Partai Solidaritas Indonesia – “PSI”) cadre, law expert graduating from Harvard, Special Staff in Legal Issues 

13. Fadjroel Rahman, PT Adhi Karya (Persero)’s President Commissioner, Special Staff in Communications, 

14. Anggit Nugroho, the President’s personal assistant 

Vice President Ma’ruf Amin’s Special Staff: 
1. Masduki Baidlowi, Special Staff in Communication and Information 

2. Muhammad Imam Aziz, Special Staff in Poverty Eradication and Regional Autonomy 

3. Satya Arinanto, Special Staff in Legal Issue 

4. Sukriansyah S. Latief, Special Staff in Infrastructure and Investments 

5. Robikin Emhas, Special Staff in Politics and Inter-Agency Relations 

6. Mohamad Nasir, Special Staff in Bureaucratic Reforms 

7. Lukmanul Hakim, Special Staff in Economics and Finance 

8. Masykur Abdillah, Special Staff in General Affairs