Reshuffle to improve cabinet`s performance

Jakata (ANTARA News) – Claiming that a number of ministers in President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono`s cabinet, especially those handling economic affairs, are not performing well, many quarters, including political party figures, have been calling for a cabinet reshuffle as a way to remedy the problem.

But some observrs have said the calls for a shake-up in the cabinet`s lineup actually have more to do with the efforts of some political parties to achieve certain targets.

The president has responded to the calls and opinions by planning to talk to leaders of political parties, especially those whose representatives in the cabinet would be replaced with cadres from other political parties. The head of state also consulted Vice President Yusuf Kalla on the matter.


Jakata (ANTARA News) – Claiming that a number of ministers in President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono`s cabinet, especially those handling economic affairs, are not performing well, many quarters, including political party figures, have been calling for a cabinet reshuffle as a way to remedy the problem.

But some observrs have said the calls for a shake-up in the cabinet`s lineup actually have more to do with the efforts of some political parties to achieve certain targets.

The president has responded to the calls and opinions by planning to talk to leaders of political parties, especially those whose representatives in the cabinet would be replaced with cadres from other political parties. The head of state also consulted Vice President Yusuf Kalla on the matter.

President Yudhoyono on Friday (Apr 20) told newsmen in Jakarta that he would announce a limited cabinet reshuffle in early May, 2007.

But the president has yet to mention the fixed date when the cabinet reshuffle would be conducted as he only said the measure would be taken for the sake of greater efficiency and better performance.

Meanwhile, House of Representatives (DPR) Deputy Speaker Zaenal Ma`rif said he believed the government would reshuffle the cabinet in the near future.

Zaenal expressed the belief based on a hint given recently by Vice President Yusuf Kalla, who is also Golkar Party chairman, that the government would reshuffle the cabinet. “I believe there has been a discussion on the matter between the president and the vice president,” Zaenal said.

The vice president recently said the cabinet was likely to be reshuffled not for political reasons but for the improvement of the cabinet`s performance.

Zaenal who is former chairman of the Reform Star Party also said that a meeting held by the Golkar Party in Yogyakarta recently could have been part of an effort to consoliidate party ranks in view of an expected cabinet reshuffle and to choose cadres whom Golkar could promote as replacements for those ministers considered to be not performing well in the current cabinet.

He said a cabinet reshuffle was still possible as the current government`s mandate was valid for 2.5 more years so there was still time to improve its performance and create a new atmosphere in the House of Representatives.

“Several cabinet ministers appear to be hesitant in implementing government policies. They are not making any breakthroughs in the institutions they lead,” he said, adding that there were also weaknesses in the governemnt`s policies in the economic and egal fields.

Zaenal said there were ministers who were only pre-occupied with theories and failed to observe the existing fundamental problems in society.

A Golkar Party legislator, Yuddy Chirnandi, said if President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono intended to reshuffle the cabinet, he should take into account the quality, capacity, capability, integrity and social access of the new ministers he would appoint.

“I`m hoping the president will consider the quality, capacity, capability, integrity of a minister who wants to sit in the cabinet so that the reshuffle will really improve the cabinet`s effectiveness and efficiency,” Yuddy said.

Sharing Yuddy`s view,, Sutan Bhatoegana, secretary of the Democrat Party faction in the DPR, said the president should replace ministers who are not performing well.

“Hopefully, the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono-Jusuf Kalla (SBY-JK) duo already have candidates for the positions that should be relinquished by ministers who are unable to work maximally either due to health problems or lack of capability,” he said.

Sutan Bhatoegana who is also deputy chairman of the House`s Commission VII, said if the President really intended to reshuffle the cabinet a second time, he should handpick replacements based on the principle of “the right man in the right place.”

Bhatoegana said the present administration needed ministers who were healthy and willing to work 24 hours a day, if necessary.

“Another important thing is that would-be ministers should be able to translate into policies and actions the President`s intentions to improve the nation`s and country`s prosperity and security,” he said.

Meanwhile, chairman of the the Indonesian Democratic Party- Struggle (PDIP) faction in the House Tjahyo Kumolo said President Yudhoyono should replace ministers who did not function well if he wished to reshuffle the cabinet.

“The people are now facing heavy problems as the cabinet does not run maximally because several ministers have not been orking in conformity with their respective duties and functions,” Tjahyo said.

He suggested that the government consider the capability of a minister to work in a team and continue to improve his or her performance as a minister. The government should improve efficiency and make reforms in the bureaucracy by among other things combining certain ministries into one, like the Housing Affairs Ministry and the Public Works Ministry, and the Trade Ministry and Industry Ministry.

He also asked the president not to reshuffle the cabinet only because certain political groups urged him to do so. “Now is the time for the president to show his authority in leading the government and the country,” Tjahyo said.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said last Sunday that if he decided to reshuffle the cabinet, it would be to improve the cabinet`s performance and effectiveness, not to serve the interests of certain persons or political parties.

The President stated that the request of some political parties to change the cabinet`s lineup on a rotational basis was wrong because the government`s programs needed the cabinet`s sustainability or continuity.

Economic team

Economic observer from Diponegoro University in Semarang, Central Java, Nugroho SBM, said the macro economic sector was indeed improving as indicated by the decline in the central bank`s interest rate, the increasing index of the Jakarta Stock Exchange, and the stable inflation rate.

However, people at the grass root level had yet to enjoy the performance as many people were still having difficulties in getting jobs, the prices of basic commodities were continuing to increase while small-scale industries were still facing many constraintss in obtaining bank credits.

Meanwhile, president of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), Tifatul Sembiring, called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to reshuffle his economic team in the cabinet.

“I would suggest that the president reshuffle his economic team in the cabinet as it has not been able to solve the problems in the real sector and poverty in the country,” Tifatul said.

He even named certain ministers who must be replaced, like Boediono (coordinating minister for economic affairs), Sri Mulyani (finance minister), Mari Elka Pangestu (trade minister), Fahmi Idris (industry minister) and Surya Dharma Ali (minister for cooperatives and small and medium enterprises).

Political balance

Meanwhile, a lecturer at the Social and Political Faculty of the Diponegro University in Semarang, Central Java, Mochamad Yulianto said the president should not only consider the competence and professionalism of would-be ministers but also political balance in the effort to reshuffle the cabinet.

“It`s true that we adhere to the presidential system but the president cannot ignore the political constellation in the House of Representatives (DPR). The power of the Democrats Party which was founded among others by Yudhoyono is too small compared to that of the Golkar Party and PDIP,” he said.

According to Yulianto, the president can however take political measures by approaching ministers in his cabinet who are leaders of political parties in his effort to reshuffle the cabinet.

Yulianto also said not all the ministers in the cabinet performed well, including those dealing with public services like in the transportation sector which was responsible for the recent sea, land and air accidents.

No guarantee

Muladi, overnor of the National Resiience Institute (Lemhanas), said recently that replacing some cabinet ministers would not automatically help improve the government`s performance.

“A cabinet reshuffle will not automatically improve the government`s image as it also depends on the capability of the new ministers to settle the problems being faced in several areas , especially the economic sector,” he said.

Muladi also hoped that political parties would not compete for seats in the cabinet if the President was to revamp the cabine as whoever would be in the cabinet must be able to help the President solve the nation`s problems.

“The President in the past two years has been facing serious challenges with regard to his popularity rating that has continued to decline. Efforts to improve this must be concrete. The core of the problem is basically economic, and this is not to be blamed on the President as it is a legacy of the past,” he said.

In the meantime, a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) faction in the DPR, Alfridel Jinu, also opined that a cabinet reshuffle was no guarantee that the existing problems including those on the economic and political fields would be solved.

“The problems lie in the weakness and shortcomings of the government leadership,” he said, adding that if a cabinet reshuffle was unable to cope with the problems, the people might be disappointed.

Meanwhile, Indonesian National Students Movement (GMNI) Chairman Dedy Rachmadi said the president should be able to account for the results of the expected cabinet reshuffle to the people.

The cabinet reshuffle must be conducted to make the government work more effectively and efficiently in the interest of the people, said Dedy who was however still doubtful that the reshuffle would be free from political interests, especially interests of the supporting political parties

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