President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday reminded the new cabinet that he expected all his ministers, whatever their political affiliation, to be loyal to him.
“I remind you, we follow a presidential cabinet system. The president is the captain,” Yudhoyono said. “Your loyalty and lines of responsibility are straight to the president, not to your political party chairman. When it comes to governmental duties, I hope — bear this in mind — that we will work together.”
Addressing the cabinet after swearing them in, Yudhoyono said the interests of the nation must be the ministers’ first priority and come above their own personal or communal interests, and added that their performance would be closely monitored and measured by the public.
Cabinet watchers have said that such a reminder was especially necessary considering that many of the ministers came from political parties, including some that were not initially allies.
Several ministers hold senior executive positions in political parties, including National Awakening Party (PKB) chairman Muhaimin Iskandar, who has the manpower and transmigration portfolio, Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) chairman Tifatul Sembiring, who is the communication and information technology minister, and Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali, who heads the United Development Party (PPP).
“Wherever you come from, whatever political party you are a member of, I hope that you put the interests of the government, nation and state above the interests of political parties, groups and classes,” Yudhoyono said. “Do not invert this .”
Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Rajasa said the president would not prohibit ministers from also holding executive party positions because he believed they should be able to separate their loyalties to their parties and to the government
“He [Yudhoyono] also mentioned that the most important thing [for a minister] is to know where their loyalties should lie, and to work fully for the interests of the nation during their tenure as ministers,” said Rajasa, the former state secretary.
Yudhoyono also asked his ministers to prove their mettle at their new posts. The president said they had signed an integrity pact and a performance contract related to the goals they had to achieve during their tenure before they were officially appointed to their posts.
“I hope that you do what you have already pledged to do,” he said.
The president added that he would conduct annual performance evaluations.
“It’s impossible to change and achieve everything in the next five years,” he said. “But the people will find out whether you have worked hard or not.”
Yudhoyono also called on his ministers not to be swayed by public opinions about the cabinet, and to remain strong and focused on their duties.
“With regards [to opinion], I tell you, don’t fight words with words, but with action,” he said.
On Thursday, Yudhoyono installed 34 ministers, the chief of the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), Sutanto, and the head of the Presidential Working Committee on Monitoring and Controlling National Development, Kuntoro Mangkusubroto.
The new state secretary, Sudi Silalahi, said the head of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM), Gita Wirjawan, would be installed later, along with the deputy ministers who have yet to be named.
“This is within procedures,” Sudi said. “The president has two weeks to fully decide on the cabinet. It’s still day one. But everything is in process.”