Sunday, April 22, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
While supporting President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's decision to reshuffle his Cabinet, analysts believe the President should be highly critical when selecting replacements for current ministers seen as performing poorly.
Hermawan Sulistyo, a political observer from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, said replacement ministers should have a better understanding of their portfolio, regardless of whether this knowledge came from their academic background or past work experience.
"We don't want to keep hearing ministers say, 'It's still being investigated', when asked about a matter related to their posts," Hermawan said.
"Those appointed as ministers should be ready to work in this second half of Yudhoyono's presidential term. Two years is enough to make some significant changes."
Speaking at a public discussion Saturday, Hermawan said the Cabinet was currently dominated by an older generation of politicians, and that their replacements should be chosen from among the country's younger generation of professionals and experts.
It has been widely reported that 13 ministers in the present Cabinet are ill, suffering mainly from heart problems.
Also speaking at the discussion were Pande Raja Silalahi from the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Sammy Kristamuljana, dean of Prasetya Mulya Business School, and lawyer Luhut Pangaribuan.
Silalahi said the President had gained some advantages by deliberately delaying the Cabinet reshuffle and now had ample time to contemplate who could best fill several soon-to-be-vacant Cabinet posts.
"Previously, public debate was focused on whether a reshuffle was necessary, but now we have moved to what kind of reshuffle we need," he said.
Silalahi added that Yudhoyono should be careful in examining incoming ministers' economic management credentials.
"In 2006, our economic growth was 5.4 percent. Worldwide, only a few countries could reach this number. The growth percentage was relatively high but it was just not enough," said Silalahi.
He also emphasized that the Industry Ministry should be more proactive in its attempts to improve the industry sector's performance, which has declined in the past two years.
"Our industry sector grew 7 percent in the last seven years, but has been at its lowest performance level over the last two years. Why have there been no maneuvers from the ministry to improve this?" Silalahi asked.
Sammy said that those appointed to Yudhoyono's Cabinet should have a "common perspective" to solve the country's economic and political problems.
Referring to the success of the U.S. Rainbow Division in World War II, Sammy said that the Cabinet, often nicknamed the Rainbow Cabinet, would be successful if all its members had a common goal to work toward.
Emphasizing the need for the President to pay more attention to law enforcement, Pangaribuan pointed to several corruption cases allegedly involving Cabinet members, adding that priority should be given to cases seen as having a deterring effect on the likelihood of future instances of corruption.
"On one hand, our democratic development is amazing, but on the other hand, law enforcement is going down. Democracy should be guarded by law. Without the certainty of law, democracy will be counterproductive," he said. (02)