Widodo under pressure to ensure chosen ministers are clean

Widodo under pressure to ensure chosen ministers are clean

On his first day at work on Tuesday (Oct 21), the president headed straight into holding talks on investment and trade with the prime minister of Papua New Guinea and the Russian trade and industry minister. But the question for most Indonesians is who Widodo will select as his Cabinet ministers.

In hopes of keeping his Cabinet clean, President Widodo submitted the names of his 43 candidates to the Financial Transactions Report and Analysis Center, as well as the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) last week.

In response, the anti-graft watchdog highlighted names implicated in corruption cases and those who had falsely submitted wealth reports or had public complaints made against them. Mr Widodo implied that he had revised his ministerial line-up after a meeting earlier Tuesday.

“Last night we summoned all the ministerial candidates and spoke with them until 2.30am,” he said.

The Indonesian Corruption Watch (ICW) urged the president to postpone his announcement of the ministerial line-up to give more time for background checks. ICW researcher Ade Irawan said: “So far, the Corruption Eradication Commission and Financial Transactions Report and Analysis Center have been asked for input.”

“We believe several other institutions such as the Tax Directorate General and the National Commission on Human Rights can be asked for advice on the candidates, too. It’s also important to involve public input in the process. It would be regrettable if the names are announced but the public ends up disappointed,” he added.

The ICW, who received tips on the list, said there are six candidates who have questionable track records. Its hopes ministers and agency chiefs are selected based not only on their track records alone, but also on integrity and commitment against corruption.

According to Indonesian laws, President Widodo has two weeks to choose 33 ministers including four coordinating ministers. Eighteen of them will be technocrats while the rest will be politicians. Despite having introduced a public opinion poll to gauge public views on potential ministers last July, there is no indication if Mr Widodo heeded public calls to pick reformist figures.

With high hopes for a dream team of sorts of Cabinet ministers, President Widodo risks disappointing voters if he buckles under political pressure and chooses ministers with a shady past.

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