Indonesia reels from corruption fighter's departure for World Bank 
May 6, 2010 
JAKARTA: Indonesia's fight against corruption has been thrown into doubt after 
its finance minister and reform stalwart resigned and accepted a senior job at 
the World Bank.

Sri Mulyani Indrawati, a former Euromoney magazine finance minister of the year 
and a darling of foreign investors, has been pursued relentlessly in the past 
six months by powerful business, bureaucratic and political interests that 
stand to lose from her reformist agenda.

Jakarta's currency and sharemarkets, already under pressure yesterday, fell 
further on the news.

''It will be a huge loss to Indonesia and a victory for those bastards 
targeting her,'' said Peter Fanning of the Indonesia Australia Business 
Council. ''It comes at a critical juncture.''

The Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, confirmed that Dr Indrawati 
would be leaving, hailing her as ''one of our best ministers''.

But there was speculation that her departure might be part of a political deal 
to placate her enemies, some of whom are members of the ruling coalition.

Dr Indrawati has earned plaudits for expanding the country's tax base, easing 
the regulatory burden on private enterprise and running a conservative fiscal 
policy that helped Indonesia weather the global financial crisis.

She has also been the most visible face of President Yudhoyono's 
anti-corruption drive. But, despite some successes, graft remains widespread in 
Indonesia, including in agencies overseen by Dr Indrawati.

Whether Indonesia has the political will and personnel to carry on the task is 
in doubt.

''It's created uncertainty,'' said Roland Haas of the Jakarta financial 
advisory firm HB Capital. ''One doesn't yet know if the next person coming in 
is going to be a reformer and have a backbone like her. The markets will want 
the announcement of a replacement soon.''

Dr Indrawati will start as a managing director at the World Bank next month, 
one of three senior advisers to its president, Robert Zoellick.

A US-trained economist who worked at the International Monetary Fund, Dr 
Indrawati has no political affiliations. In the parlance popular in Indonesia, 
she is a ''technocrat''. She has been most admired for her courage in taking on 
vested interests.

During the height of the financial crisis and as sharemarkets fell in 2008, she 
resisted pressure from Aburizal Bakrie to halt trading and prop up his coal 
interests with government funds. Mr Bakrie was not only one of Indonesia's 
richest men but also a member of President Yudhoyono's cabinet at the time.

Dr Indrawati won that battle after reportedly threatening to resign and her 
actions did much to instil confidence in Indonesian financial markets. Since 
then, shares and the rupiah have soared in value.

But, as Mr Haas puts it, ''the bullshit has just got worse'' for Dr Indrawati 
as legislators from Mr Bakrie's Golkar Party, among others, pursued the finance 
minister over her approval of the bailout of a small financial institution, 
Bank Century.

Dr Indrawati responded by threatening to chase down alleged tax debts owed by 
Mr Bakrie's companies.

Golkar is part of President Yudhoyono's coalition government. Other parties in 
the ruling coalition have also aggressively pursued Dr Indrawati.

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