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Speculations surrounding potential resignations shake Indonesia’s cabinet

Rumors of ministerial resignations in Indonesia draw criticism. Faisal Basri faces backlash from netizens, labeled a “political vagabond,” with calls for legal action.

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INDONESIA – Recent rumours circulating about several ministers contemplating leaving President Joko Widodo’s cabinet have sparked widespread speculation and debate across Indonesia.

While President Joko Widodo has neither confirmed nor denied these claims, he emphasized the regularity of morning meetings with his ministers, portraying the gatherings as a sign of unity within his cabinet.

President Joko Widodo addressed the issue following his attendance at an event organized by Muslimat Nahdatul Ulama on Saturday (20 Jan).

He stated, “Every day, we have limited meetings, internal meetings every day, with all ministers or some ministers.”

Additionally, he questioned the origin of the rumours, asking, “Where did this issue come from?”

The initial reports of potential resignations were brought to light by economist Faisal Basri during a press briefing on Thursday (18 Jan).

Faisal refrained from disclosing specific ministers but mentioned that some were reportedly prepared to step down, citing Minister of Public Works and Public Housing Basuki Hadimuljono and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani as examples.

Sri Mulyani chose not to comment on the rumours, stating her focus on her ministerial duties. On the same day, she attended two limited meetings at the palace with President Jokowi.

Separately, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi also denied any intention of resigning from President Jokowi’s cabinet.

Faisal Basri’s statements gained attention as he called for ministers, including Sri Mulyani, Pramono Anung, and Basuki Hadimuljono, to resign due to their alleged dissatisfaction with President Jokowi’s administration, particularly regarding its perceived lack of neutrality in the upcoming 2024 Presidential Election.

During a Political Economic Outlook 2024 event in Tebet, Jakarta Selatan, on Saturday (13 Jan), Faisal urged, “Let’s persuade Finance Minister Sri Mulyani, Minister Basuki, and some other ministers to resign. The impact would be tremendous. Morally, I hear that Bu Sri Mulyani is the most prepared to resign. Pramono Anung (Cabinet Secretary) is hesitant.”

Faisal clarified his position on Thursday (18 Jan), stating that he did not directly pressure Sri Mulyani or Basuki to resign. Instead, he advocated for public pressure on the ministers to step down, emphasizing that he had no direct communication with them.

Faisal Basri’s remarks faced criticism from netizens, with many expressing disapprovals of his stance. Some even called for legal action against him, alleging incitement. The online backlash against Faisal underscored the divisive nature of the rumors surrounding ministerial resignations.

The Instagram post by Harian Kompas related to the issue has been inundated with comments from netizens, with the majority expressing disapproval of Faisal Basri’s stance.

“Apparently, a political vagabond!” commented @hary_an**.

@andrilesman*** even tagged the Indonesian Police account in their comment, saying, “This person should have been arrested by now. @divisihumaspolri, charge him with incitement.”

(Source: Instagram/@kompascom)

“Be a useful human,” wrote @guswai.

“Can this be considered treason?” commented @alexfreadi***.

“It is evident that this person has no love for the country at all,” @importir_ba*** also added their commentary.

(Source: Instagram/@kompascom)

Amidst the controversy, Presidential Special Staff Coordinator Ari Dwipayana refuted the speculations, asserting that all ministers remain cohesive and supportive of President Joko Widodo.

In a written statement on 18 January, Ari stated, “All ministers of the Indonesia Onward Cabinet remain united and solid in assisting the President in leading the government until the end of his term.”

Political analyst Kristian Widya Wicaksono from Parahyangan Catholic University offered insights into the situation.

When contacted by phone on Friday (19 Jan), he suggested that the rumors of 15 ministers resigning might stem from dissatisfaction with President Joko Widodo’s intervention in favor of a particular presidential and vice-presidential candidate in the 2024 election.

Wicaksono outlined two possible reasons for the rumors: first, discontent with the president’s perceived support for a specific candidate, which is viewed as undermining democratic principles; second, a form of protest against perceived organizational disruptions caused by a minister impeding the procurement of defense equipment during the third presidential debate.

The speculation has also targeted ministers with strong public reputations, potentially leading to a decline in public support for President Joko Widodo and the candidate he supports.

Wicaksono pointed out the tension within the cabinet, exemplified by Finance Minister Sri Mulyani’s terse response to questions about her rumored resignation.

The current situation, according to Wicaksono, may be an accumulation of discontent on the leveraging power to facilitate the candidacy of the president’s eldest son in the 2024 election.

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