Jokowi threatens to reshuffle Cabinet if Ministers don’t develop a true sense of crisis

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President Joko Widodo. (Photo: Prive. Doc)

IO – Early this week the public was stunned with a video excerpt showing President Joko Widodo strictly reprimanding his ministers and telling them to work harder during the COVID-19 pandemic. The President was upset that his Ministers lack a sense of crisis and continue to work as if we are in a normal situation. He noted how no extraordinary policies have been decreed during the last three months of the pandemic. “Don’t just set ordinary policies and think that the situation is normal! What the Hell is this?! I am very upset – don’t any of you have a sense of crisis?!” Jokowi snapped to his ministers in a Cabinet Plenary Meeting held in the Presidential Palace, Central Jakarta, on Thursday (18/06/2020). 

Jokowi reiterated his instruction that all ministers work extraordinarily diligently in order to match the current extraordinary situation. The Ministers should not have the same sense as before, because we have suffered the pandemic for over three months. “If I see you ladies and gentlemen continue to view this entire situation as normal, continue to work like any ordinary day, it is extremely dangerous. We must work extraordinarily efficiently in this abnormal situation. Please have the same feelings as I do about this case. We all must share the same feelings in a crisis. Only one person feeling differently is a dangerous attitude,” he said. 

He further stated that he has not seen any breakthroughs from his Ministers yet. For example, domestic businesses have not received any economic stimulus. “The micro-small-medium businesses, the large businesses, banking, manufacture, industries – everything related to business, especially work-intense industries – must be prioritized. Don’t wait for massive layoffs before you act. We have not invested even a single Rupiah into our economic stimulus. Don’t let unnecessary regulatory issues obstruct us from doing what is necessary to mitigate the situation. Remember that we are living in extraordinary circumstances,” he said. 

Jokowi then admits that “I have honestly not seen any significant progress in our economy, in our small and medium businesses, in our mitigation of the pandemic. None whatsoever. If my Ministers feel that existing regulations are insufficient, I will make any necessary Government Regulation in lieu of Law for them. As long as it’s for the people and the nation, I am willing to stake my political reputation,” he said. “The people are my first priority and I will not tolerate any obstruction in my efforts for their sake. Once again, we need to take extraordinary measures. I will open up the first political move and will open the Government up as well. Any extraordinary moves necessary for our 267 million citizens, anything that is required by our country,” he said. 

Jokowi was so upset that he even said that “It’s entirely possible for me to just disband agencies, to just reshuffle the cabinet. I have been thinking all over the place. Perhaps I should make a more important Government Regulation in lieu of Law – and I will, if necessary. Because we really need to have a sense of crisis, and none of you ladies and gentlemen feel that,” he said. 

Responding to Jokowi’s statement, member of the House of Representative (Dewan Perwakilan Rakyat – “DPR”) RI from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan – “PDIP”) Faction, Andreas Hugo Pareira, urges the President to immediately reshuffle his working cabinet. “The key phrase is ‘performance evaluation of the president’s helpers during the crisis’, a response that shows a sense of crisis of these helpers as seen in the performance of each Ministry and Agency,” he said in a written statement on Monday (29/06/2020). Andrea concludes from the words and gestures in the speech that a cabinet reshuffle is imminent, especially involving ministers who lack a sense of crisis. “More specifically, in relation to the President’s helpers involved in mitigating COVID-19, mitigating its socio-economic impact, and in reviving the economy,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Prosperous Justice Party’s Central Leadership Council (Dewan Pimpinan Pusat Partai Keadilan Sejahtera – “DPP PKS”), Mardani Ali Sera, supports President Jokowi’s plan to reshuffle the Cabinet in response to its poor performance. However, he wants this to be more than words. “Don’t just stop with the statement. Strict decisions and strong follow up actions must be made within at most a week after the statement. If no action is taken by then, it will be Mr. Jokowi who must be called to lack a sense of crisis,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Padjadjaran University’s politics and governmental sciences observer, Firman Manan, said that the COVID-19 pandemic is outside of anyone’s prediction. Therefore, the President naturally has the authority to appoint the right persons to mitigate the pandemic. “This is a crisis situation that never occurred to anybody when President Jokowi organized his Cabinet last October. Naturally, the current condition requires people who have the capability to manage the Government in a crisis,” he said. 

Similarly, Indo Barometer’s Executive Director M. Qodari states that the reshuffle plan is a clear and obvious signal. “I think it is only natural if Mr. Jokowi uses COVID as the parameter for his plan to reshuffle his Cabinet. After all, it is critically important. Mr. Jokowi does feel that members of his Cabinet do not have the same sense, the same perspective that we really are in the middle of a crisis,” he said. (Dan)