Headline News October 12, 2004

October 12, 2004

CABINET TALKS: Vice-president-elect Jusuf Kalla (left) and (left to right) Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra, former Indonesian Military chief Adm. (ret) Widodo AS and political scientist Andi Mallarangeng, who is also a spokesman for president-elect Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, talk to the press before leaving Susilo's home in Cikeas, Bogor. Susilo met with his aides and Kalla on Monday to discuss the selection of his Cabinet. JP/ P.J. Leo
Susilo mulls 'one-roof' govt

Tiarma Siboro and Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Bogor/Jakarta

To build an effective government, president-elect Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is preparing a system that places the presidential and vice presidential offices and state secretariat under one roof -- literally.

Political expert Andi Mallarangeng said after a closed-door meeting with Susilo and his team on Monday that the new concept would require the president and vice president to share the same building.

Since the country's independence in 1945, the president and vice president have had separate offices located some two kilometers apart. The separation was said to be necessary because each had his or her own duties.

"The structure (of the presidential office) will more or less be the same as the current one. But to make it more effective and dynamic, there will be greater integration," Mallarangeng said.

The presidential office will supply data not only to the president, but to the vice president and the state secretary, according to Mallarangeng.

Apart from Mallarangeng, political analyst Denny JA, economists Muhammad Chatib Basri and Joyo Winoto, Susilo's advisor on religious affairs Muhammad Fuad and businessman M. Lutfi were among the key figures invited for consultations at Susilo's home in Bogor.

Earlier in the morning, Susilo held talks with his vice president-elect Jusuf Kalla and advisors Yusril Ihza Mahendra, who is the justice and human rights minister, and Adm. (ret) Widodo A.S., a former Indonesian Military (TNI) chief.

Susilo also invited Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Purnomo Yusgiantoro to brief the former about the fluctuating world oil prices and its impact on Indonesia. Purnomo refused to comment on his meeting with Susilo.

"Within the first 100 days in office, Pak Susilo will issue a policy on fuel prices. The main concern, however, is to keep fuel supplies secure ahead of Idul Fitri, Christmas and New Year despite the volatile oil prices," Mallarangeng said.

Beginning on Wednesday, Susilo will start interviewing his ministerial candidates.

Kalla said the morning meeting focused on three priority programs the new government would pursue in the first 100 days.

Susilo has called for a smooth transition period, which is to include the Cabinet formation, putting his programs into action and the revision of the 2005 budget draft.

Kalla said the next Cabinet would differ from the current one, as it would consist of 34 ministers, including two new ministries.

He said the office of coordinating minister for political and security affairs would also handle legal matters, particularly those involving the eradication of corruption. The office of coordinating minister for the economy would focus on economic recovery, while the office of coordinating minister for people's welfare would concentrate on improvement of national education.

Yusril added that Susilo would revive the state minister of sports affairs and the ministry of trade, which, since 1998 has been merged with ministry of industry. The office of the state minister of sports and youth affairs was given the axe by former president Abdurrahman Wahid, who served between 1999 and 2001.

Susilo, according to Yusril, would maintain the office of state minister of state enterprises and the National Intelligence Agency (BIN), but with some changes.

"The office of the state minister of state enterprises will no longer control all state companies, which now exceed 200. Several state enterprises will fall under the supervision of related ministries to simplify the chain of coordination between them," Yusril said.

As for BIN, Susilo is reviewing the status of its chief, who is normally accorded a ministerial level rank, Yusril added.

Separately, Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) analyst Syamsudin Harris suggested that the Cabinet comprise just 25 ministers as in the era of decentralization some of the central government's powers had been delegated to regional administrations.

He said the central government should focus on international relations, defense affairs, justice affairs, religious affairs and financial affairs.