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Mahfud’s cabinet exit amid election spurs scrutiny on candidates’ ministerial roles

Vice-presidential candidate Mahfud Md resigned from President Joko Widodo’s Cabinet on Wednesday. The Indonesian online community is questioning the stance of other presidential candidates regarding the separation of campaign duties and ministerial responsibilities.



INDONESIA:  Mahfud Md, the vice-presidential candidate number 3, officially announced his resignation from the position of Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs (Menkopolhukam) in President Joko Widodo’s Cabinet.

In a statement on Wednesday (31 Jan), Mahfud Md revealed that he would personally hand over his formal resignation letter to President Jokowi during their upcoming face-to-face meeting, marking the conclusion of his tenure as the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs.

Mahfud Md emphasized the importance of respectfully submitting his resignation letter, underscoring the trust and honour bestowed upon him by President Jokowi when appointed to the role.

President Jokowi has already responded and agreed to meet Mahfud on Thursday (1 Feb), confirming the scheduled encounter.

However, the Presidential Palace has not yet confirmed the venue for the meeting.

Former vice president applauds Mahfud Md’s resignation, calls for transparency in Prabowo’s role

Former Vice President Jusuf Kalla commended Mahfud Md’s decision, urging clarity from Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto on his role.

Kalla drew parallels to his resignation in 2004, stressing the importance of clearly delineating between campaign duties and ministerial responsibilities.

Anies Baswedan, the presidential candidate number 1, expressed respect for Mahfud’s decision, underlining the significance of ethics in governance.

However, he refrained from commenting on whether other ministers should follow suit.

Prabowo Subianto, the presidential candidate number 2 and current Defense Minister in Jokowi’s cabinet, acknowledged Mahfud’s political right to resign, refusing to divulge his intentions or speculate on the cabinet’s solidarity.

Mahfud Md’s resignation signals growing divergence in PDIP’s political stance from President Joko Widodo

Ahmad Khoirul Umam, the Executive Director of the Institute for Democracy and Strategic Affairs (Indostrategic), interpreted Mahfud Md’s resignation as indicative of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle’s (PDIP) increasingly contrasting political stance compared to President Joko Widodo’s.

Umam suggested that if Mahfud’s decision to resign was sanctioned by PDIP Chairwoman Megawati Soekarno Putri, it would raise questions about the continuity of PDIP ministers in the current cabinet and reflect political inconsistencies within the party.

Political analysts have viewed Mahfud Md’s move as a strategic manoeuvre ahead of the 2024 presidential elections.

The potential early departure of the vice-presidential candidate from Jokowi’s cabinet was noted as a means to enhance electability, particularly vis-à-vis other contenders like Anies Baswedan and Muhaimin Iskandar.

Ujang Komarudin, a Political Science expert at Al Azhar Indonesia University, highlighted Mahfud Md’s discomfort in a position at odds with President Jokowi’s policies, suggesting that failure to resign would imply self-criticism.

Responding to Mahfud’s decision, PDIP Secretary-General of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, Hasto Kristiyanto, asserted that Mahfud’s resignation stemmed from opportune timing.

Hasto disclosed that Mahfud’s departure had been previously discussed within the campaign team and emphasized Mahfud’s commitment to upholding principles for the people.

Netizens seek clarity on other Presidential candidates and their teams in ministerial roles

Regarding Mahfud Md’s stance, netizens have been actively commenting on Tempo newspaper’s posts on Twitter.

Many raised questions about the stance of other presidential candidates and members of their campaign teams who currently hold ministerial or regional leadership positions.

“Will Mr Prabowo and Mr Gibran resign too?” wrote @Redstree***.

@Kevin_Imu*** commented, “Ministers from @PDI_Perjuangan, @NasDem, and @DPP_PKB should also resign.”

“It’s better if Prof @mohmahfudmd resigns. Resigning doesn’t mean giving up, but it aims to save, avoid losses, and continue the struggle with @ganjarpranowo,” @endrise*** commented.

(Source: X Platform/@tempodotco)

Prabowo’s response has also been widely commented on by netizens.

“That’s not just a political right but indeed ethics. Because Jokowi’s involvement is undermining the 02 votes, Mahfud’s move to resign is very appropriate, as he doesn’t want to sink with them,” commented @rudi_delc***.

“That’s called ethics, Sir. Not just a political right,” @hadinug0*** echoed a similar sentiment.

“What about your political rights?” @Underpressur** questioned.

“Political rights along with ethical obligations,” commented @honliusya_***.

“If it’s political rights, everyone knows, Sir. The message behind Mahfud MD’s resignation is: Resigning is about integrity & ethics,” @DampitKa*** also commented.

(Source: X Platform/@tempodotco)



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