A number of former ministers — including a few controversial ones — found themselves back in the government’s inner circle on Monday as members of the newly appointed presidential advisory council.
Perhaps most notorious among the nine top political figures sworn into the council, also known as Watimpres, at the Presidential Palace on Monday is Ginandjar Kartasasmita. The 69-year-old former energy minister was once declared a graft suspect and implicated in a fraudulent oil refinery project.
Under the helm of Marzuki Darusman in 2001, the Attorney General’s Office declared Ginandjar, a senior member of the Golkar Party, a suspect in two separate graft cases, one linked to a gas project at Pertamina in 1988 and another to a geothermal project in the Dieng area of Central Java in 1997. Neither case went to trial.
Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes Marwan Effendy told the Jakarta Globe that based on the criminal procedure code, the cases had expired and should be halted. The code states that a corruption case punishable by a life sentence must be prosecuted within 18 years or be dropped. However, records show that the AGO first charged Ginandjar in 2001 and dropped the charges in 2004.
Another controversial official coming back into the government’s fold is Siti Fadillah Supari, who was health minister during Yudhoyono’s first five-year term. In the new cabinet, she was replaced by Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih, whom Siti demoted in 2008 for allegedly carrying a virus specimen overseas without consulting her — a charge the new minister has denied.
“I had been told before that I would become a Watimpres member. [Coordinating Minister for the Economy] Hatta Rajasa told me months ago that I would not be health minister again, but would be selected for Watimpres,” Supari said.
“Four days ago, I was called and offered this position officially,” she said, adding that it came as a surprise since she considered herself to be of a “different color” from the current administration.
The others in the council include former top security minister Widodo AS, former Constitutional Court chief Jimly Asshiddiqie, former Foreign Affairs Minister Hassan Wirajuda, former Environment Minister Emil Salim and Indonesian Ulema Council deputy chairman Ma’ruf Amin.
Political expert Andrinof Chaniago of University of Indonesia said that since the council makes suggestions to the president, its members must be solution-oriented and intellectually tested.
“Some of the members meet the criteria,” he said.
The New Council
Former energy minister
Siti Fadillah Supari
Former health minister
Former coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs
Former Constitutional Court chief
Former women’s empowerment minister
Former environment minister
Head of the Indonesian Council of Ulema’s fatwa body
Former minister of foreign affairs
Former state regional autonomy minister