President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono kicked off the long-awaited shake-up of his cabinet on Thursday by naming three new deputy ministers.
The new deputies, taking up posts in the health, tourism and foreign affairs ministries, are all non-politicians.
But the president was quiet on whether the rest of the new ministers he is expected to announce over the next three or four days would also not be linked to political parties.
Wardana, a former ambassador to Singapore and a career diplomat, was appointed as the new deputy foreign minister, replacing Triyono Wibowo.
Ali Ghufron Mukti, a professor at the medical school at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, was named deputy health minister, while Sapta Nirwandar was appointed deputy minister for tourism. He was previously the marketing director general at the ministry.
“In the days ahead, I will inform the Indonesian people about those who I will appoint,” Yudhoyono said. “The relationship with political parties should be maintained.” He added that it would take three to four days to complete the new cabinet lineup
While the president did not reveal additional names, he hinted that at least some of the new appointees would be drawn from political parties.
“We are in a coalition, and in whatever country, the rules and the opinions of the political parties are needed,” he said.
Leaders of the political parties in the ruling coalition were present at the president’s private residence in Cikeas, Bogor, for Thursday’s announcement.
But Yudhoyono said that even if the new ministers came from political parties, their professionalism would also be a priority.
“Even though several ministers may come from political parties, everyone expects that they will be capable and have a good track record,” he said.
Yudhoyono said that in addition to improving the performance of the cabinet for the remaining three years of his term, the reshuffle was also aimed at improving relations with the House of Representatives.
“Our hope is that the government and the House will have healthier and more constructive relations in the future,” he said. The president added that tensions with the House were “an unnecessary waste of time.”
Tensions between Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party and two key partners in the ruling coalition, the Golkar Party and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), have led to frictions between the parties at the legislature. Many of the problems can be traced back to squabbling over the 2008 Bank Century bailout and inquiries into the so-called tax mafia.
Yudhoyono stressed the importance of economic security and stability during the global financial crisis, and a more effective government.
“For the sake of economic security, we consider it necessary to have a responsive government that can find solutions to address problems in this current global situation,” he said.
He has said the new cabinet lineup will be announced before the anniversary of the current cabinet next Thursday.