The upfront former activist and minister passes away

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RIP Rizal Ramli

Jakarta, IO – Rizal Ramli, former Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Resources, passed away on Tuesday, Jan 2, 2024, at Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital, Jakarta. He died after living with pancreatic cancer, and was buried at the Jeruk Purut Cemetery in South Jakarta on Thursday, Jan 4. 

Rizal Ramli was born in Padang, West Sumatra on Dec 10, 1954. He was a student activist who grew up to become an economics expert. During his career, Rizal occupied various executive positions. 

Rizal served as the Head of the Logistics Agency (Bulog) from 2000 to 2001. During the same period, he also served as Coordinating Minister for Economy, Finance and Industry. 

During President Joko Widodo’s (Jokowi) administration, Rizal was trusted to serve as the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Resources, from 2015 to 2016. 

Rizal Ramli was a figure in the Indonesian student movement in the 1977/1978 era. The late President Suharto once invited him to join the 7th Development Cabinet as a minister, and Gus Dur offered him a post in the Audit Board of Indonesia and Indonesian Ambassador to the United States. All offers were declined. He finally accepted, when Gus Dur asked him to serve as the Head of the Logistics Agency. 

Internationally, Rizal was once entrusted to serve as a member of the United Nations (UN) economic advisory panel team, along with several economists from other countries. Because he was determined to serve the Indonesian state and nation, Rizal once turned down an international position as the Secretary-General of the Economic and Social Commission of Asia and Pacific (ESCAP), offered by the UN in November 2013. 

Some people dubbed him “The Breakthrough” because of his unconventional yet on-target ideas. He was also known to side with the people’s interests. Rizal was also appointed General Chairman of the schism of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin Indonesia) in September 2013 after a division occurred within the organization. 

For a few years, Rizal Ramli was not in the central circles of power. In August 2015, President Joko Widodo requested that he be in charge of managing the maritime and resources sector. 

Even though he was in the Government, Rizal’s critical attitude never settled. He frequently made harsh criticism against matters he considered not in the interests of the nation and state; hence, his new nickname: “Rajawali Ngepret”. 

Not long after being appointed as Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Resources, Rizal Ramli issued a statement that sparked controversy among government officials and the public. He proposed canceling the plan to purchase new aircraft for flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, by the State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Ministry. Rizal argued that purchasing new aircraft was an inappropriate policy and a waste of state money. 

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A few days after this incident, Rizal also criticized the 35,000-megawatt electricity development project as unrealistic and nicknamed the plan “ Vice President Jusuf Kalla’s delayed ambitious project . This criticism was immediately met with a strong reaction from Jusuf Kalla and other state officials, causing a stir in the Jokowi-Jusuf Kalla administration. 

Rizal was dismissed as Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Resources on Jul 27, 2016. 

This upfront former activist and minister has passed away. Rest in peace, Rizal Ramli. (rp)