Refleksi : Golkar pegang kemudi bahtera orba jilid III?

Indonesia's Bakrie Grabs New Post

Written by Our Correspondent    
Wednesday, 12 May 2010

 Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati's departure opens the door to her foe 

With the ink still wet on Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati's resignation 
in favor of a top  World Bank job,  her bitter foe Aburizal Bakrie, one of 
Indonesia's richest men and the head of the Golkar Party, has been appointed 
"managing chairman" of a new government joint secretariat that is likely to 
play an important role in determining government policy. 

The secretariat was formulated last Friday at a closed meeting of ruling 
coalition parties at the home of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, just two 
days after Sri Mulyani said she was leaving.  Bakrie has made no secret of the 
fact that he would like to succeed Yudhoyono when his presidential term ends in 
2014, and some analysts in Jakarta see the appointment as a precursor to 
Bakrie's campaign plans. 

Although senior Democrat Party members and Golkar officials say Bakrie's new 
position won't give him the power to influence the way the country is run, 
others are skeptical. Ikrar Nusa Bhakti, a political analyst from the 
Indonesian Institute of Sciences, said Bakrie's appointment would give him 
strong influence in determining the way the government is run. 

Hatta Rajasa, chairman of the National Mandate Party (PAN) and chief economic 
minister, who was previously coordinator for the coalition, has been 
conspicuously left without a role in the new structure.  Rajasa has also been 
regarded as having ambitions to become a possible presidential successor. 

"President Yudhoyono may be safe for now, but he no longer has full political 
authority over the government," Bhakti said. 

Sri Mulyani has been an implacable foe of some of Bakrie's maneuverings since 
the days when the two served in Yudhoyono's first cabinet. After he made a hash 
of his original appointment as Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, she 
succeeded him. She made a particular enemy when she vetoed a bailout for 
Bakrie's distressed companies during the 2008 global financial crisis and for 
carrying on a sustained campaign to force the tycoon's companies to pay back 
taxes. Three Bakrie companies have been charged with tax evasion by the Finance 
Ministry's tax office - PT Bumi Resources, the country's biggest coal miner; 
PTKaltim Prima Coal and PT Arutmin Indonesia.   

There are also splits within Golkar itself, with some members of the party 
forming a "Clean Golkar Caucus" to ask that Bakrie step aside until he resolves 
the allegations of tax evasion, totaling Rp2 trillion (US$212 million) by the 
three companies in 2007. 

It is questionable if anyone in Indonesia today has the kind of steel and clean 
reputation that Sri Mulyani, a former International Monetary Fund official, 
showed as finance minister. The public and business leaders are watching 
anxiously to see who will replace her when she leaves at end of this month to 
become a managing director of the World Bank. Given Bakrie's new sway with the 
government, there is deep concern over his influence. 

In an editorial printed Monday, the influential Koran Tempo newspaper in 
Jakarta warned: "We should have learned from the bitter lesson six years ago.  
At the time the president had put Aburizal Bakrie as Coordinating Minister of 
Economic Affairs to accommodate the Golkar Party's political interest. The 
economy staggered to a crawl.  Inflation rates soared. The rupiah plummeted.  
All thanks to poor coordination among the economic team under Bakrie's 

Ultimately, Bakrie was pushed out in a cabinet reshuffle to become Coordinating 
Minister for Social Welfare. Sri Mulyani, who at the time was Minister of 
National Development Planning, took over as finance minister.  She has been 
given high marks by international rating agencies for steering the economy 
through most of Yudhoyono's presidential reign, including the global financial 

Although Golkar may support the government for now, in the long run there is no 
guarantee that the party will not rebel against the coalition, as it did during 
the months-long probe into the bailout of Bank Century in 2008, which was saved 
when Sri Mulyani and Vice President Boediono, then the head of the central 
bank, poured more than $700 million into it to keep it solvent. A House of 
Representatives panel spurred on by Bakrie charged that the two had exceeded 
their authority in trying to save the bank and sought to charge them with 
corruption.  Golkar, even though a constituent party in Yudhoyono's ruling 
coalition, led the campaign against the two. 

Ikrar Nusa Bhakti theorized that the appointment for Bakrie was in exchange for 
assurances that the political turmoil over the Bank Century probe would cease.  
There are continuing attempts to impeach Boediono for his role in the bailout. 
Some Golkar lawmakers are still demanding the inconclusive witch hunt continue. 
 Now, however, Anas Urbaningrum, a senior Democratic Party official, said that 
from a "political perspective," the Bank Century case was essentially over. 

Anas told reporters that the participants in the meeting to form the 
secretariat had agreed on four issues: strengthening the coalition to help it 
better support the government; establishing a joint secretariat; establishing a 
comprehensive coalition in the government and in the House, without forcing 
coalition partners to compromise on their party lines; and discussing strategic 
issues within the joint secretariat that would later be implemented by all 

"This is the first concept of its kind in the country's political history, and 
a wise initiative by the president," Anas said. "It's the dawn of a new era of 
an organized coalition." 

It could also spell the end of serious reforms if Yudhoyono is not careful. 

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