News / Asia

    Indonesian President's 'Team of Rivals' Strategy Said Leading to Deadlock

    Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (File Photo)
    Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (File Photo)

    Conflicts within the Cabinet of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono have stifled efforts to reform the economy, crack down on corruption and promote pluralism and tolerance. This is the view of some political analysts, who say the president's strategy of forming his own "team of rivals" within his cabinet has weakened his ability to govern. 

    Many of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's supporters were disappointed but not surprised by his decision to keep his cabinet intact in spite of widespread speculation about a shake-up in his coalition. Political analysts say this decision reflects more than the president's cautious personality, it also exposes a weakness in the country's democratic system.

    Although President Yudhoyono won a landslide re-election victory in 2009, with more than 60 percent of the vote, his Democratic party controls only 25 percent of the seats in parliament. To gain a working majority there, the president invited rival parties to join a grand coalition and awarded Cabinet positions to opposing party officials.

    But instead of creating a unified government, political analysts says some Cabinet members and coalition partners are working to undermine the president. Political commentator and longtime supporter of President Yudhoyono Wimar Witoelar is particularly critical of the Minister of Religious Affairs Suryadharma Ali, a member of the Islamic Prosperous Justice Party. He says Ali's support for banning the Ahmadiyah sect contradicts the president's calls for tolerance. Many Muslims consider Ahmadiyah to be against Islam because its members do not believe Mohammad was the last prophet.

    "The minister of religion is not only stifling the president's initiative, but he is subverting the desire of the Islam majority which is liberal, which is moderate, and some of them are outright liberal, and being pluralistic - a tradition which we prize most of all besides our democracy," said Suryadharma Ali.

    Muhammad Qodari, an analyst with the political polling organization Indo Barometer agrees. He says President Yudhoyono miscalculated by assuming he could ensure political allegiance by giving influential Cabinet positions to rival parties.

    "I think one mistake by Yudhoyono is that he always relate the support from his rival parties in parliament to the number of ministers at his own Cabinet," said Muhammad Qodari. "I imagine that Yudhoyono would have done much better if he pick his minister mostly based on their competence and professional background."

    Even if some rival party members in the Cabinet are loyal to the president, Witoelar says their counterparts in parliament have hampered the president's efforts to crack down on corruption and reform the economy.

    The president and his party have also been tainted by charges of corruption. Investigations into whether Vice President Boediono and then Finance Minister Sri Mulyani were involved in bailing out the Century Bank, in return for campaign donations, dragged on for months. Although the outcome was inconclusive, the president's legislative agenda was put on hold and, in the end, Mulyani resigned to become managing director of the World Bank.

    Witoelar says, apart from differing political agendas and personality conflicts, there is a structural problem with the hybrid democratic system in Indonesia that includes both a president and parliament, with no clear majority party.

    "We have to preserve both the presidency and the democratic party, but maybe define the rules of play for a multi-party system," said Witoelar. "And, the choice whether this is to be a presidential system like the American system or a parliamentary system like the European, French, British system. Now we are having the worst of both."

    Qodari supports a proposed reform to require that parties win at least five percent of the national vote to gain a seat in parliament.

    "I would say Indonesia would have a better situation, a simpler political constellation, if let's say there are only five political parties at the parliament and this should be implemented not only at the national level, but also at the local level," said Qodari.

    For at least for the remainder of the president's term, he expects the combination of a contentious parliament and an overly cautious president will ensure a slow pace of change.

    You May Like

    Egypt Orders Trial for Journalists Charged With Harboring Reporters

    Order targets journalists' union chief Yehia Qalash, Khaled al-Balshy and Gamal Abdel Rahim for allegedly spreading false news, harboring fugitive colleagues

    Nigerian Oil Production Falls as Militant Attacks Take Toll

    Country no longer Africa's petroleum king due to renewed militancy in its oil-producing region

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahdai
    X
    Lisa Schlein
    May 31, 2016 1:56 PM
    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Chapter for Tunisia's Ennahda

    Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party says it is separating its religious and political activities in a broader bid to mark its so-called Muslim Democratic identity. The move appears to open a new chapter for a party that bounced back from the political wilderness of Tunisia’s pre-revolution days to become a key player in the North African country, and a member of the current coalition government. From Tunis, Lisa Bryant takes a look at how Tunisians are viewing its latest step.
    Video

    Video New Mobile App Allows Dutch Muslims to Rate their Imams

    If a young Dutch-Moroccan app developer has his way, Muslims in the Netherlands will soon be able to rate their imams online. Mohamed Mouman says imams rarely get feedback from their followers. He believes his app can give prayer leaders a better picture of what's happening in their communities — and can also keep young people from being radicalized. Serginho Roosblad reports from Amsterdam.
    Video

    Video Moscow Condemns NATO Plans to Beef Up Defense in Eastern Europe, Baltics

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday an upcoming "landmark summit" will enhance the alliance's defensive and deterrent presence in eastern Europe and the Baltics. He is visiting Poland ahead of the NATO Summit in Warsaw. Zlatica Hoke reports
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video F-35 Fighter Jet Draws Criticisms as Costs Mount

    America’s latest fighter plane, the F-35, has been mired in controversy. Critics cite cost, faulty design, and the attempt to use it to fill multiple roles. Even the pilot’s helmet is controversial. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Concerns Over Civilian Suffering as Iraqi Forces Surround Fallujah

    Thousands of residents are trapped inside the IS-held city ahead of a full scale Iraqi offensive aimed at retaking it.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora