When complaining in front of his cabinet, the President simply showed his weak leadership. It is time to replace incompetent ministers.
IF he only wanted to replace ministers, there was no need for President Joko Widodo to become angry and make public threats. Ministers who are not good at their jobs, especially those dealing with the Corona pandemic, should be fired. After all, reshuffling a cabinet is the prerogative of the president.
Jokowi’s anger simply showed his inability to control his own cabinet. Another possibility is that he was playing victim—seeking public sympathy by portraying himself as a leader not supported by competent aides. But the people have not forgotten that these aides were chosen by Jokowi himself. Therefore, the President just made himself look foolish.
In other words, the complaining by the President in the June 18 cabinet meeting, as shown in a video released 10 days later was pointless: it had no impact in speeding up the handling of the pandemic. The President’s anger simply reinforced the public criticism of the way he appointed his cabinet at the beginning of last year for being based on political interests.
One of the ministries mentioned by the government in the ‘tense meeting’ was the health ministry. On the frontline of the response to Covid-19, the ministry led by Terawan Agus Putranto has only spent 1.53 percent of the Rp75 trillion budgeted. We recall that at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Terawan was one minister who made arbitrary statements about the pandemic that were not based on science.
Jokowi’s anger came too late. Since March, the people have been angry because of the government’s slowness to take action. Statements by officials that underestimated the seriousness of the virus and the plan to reopen tourism sites in the middle of the pandemic are just two of the government policies that seemed not to consider the health or lives of the people.
The handling of the pandemic needs good management and coordination, as well as a firm concept resolutely implemented. Many nations that have succeeded in limiting the spread of the virus are now preparing to relax restrictions and revive their stalled economies. China, the nation hit first by the pandemic, is already up and running. The production of emissions from Chinese factories last month was two times higher than in the four months when the quarantine was in effect.
Indonesia is a long way from this and now must be prepared to face the negative reaction from the global community. Indonesia, for example, was not included in the 17 nations whose citizens are now allowed to visit the European Union. In other words, Indonesia is not a nation whose government is seen as competently handling the pandemic.
Therefore, to improve the situation, ministers who are not working well must be immediately replaced. There is no need to be held hostage to the political parties: Jokowi must summon up the courage to appoint ministers from outside the parties. Secondly, the President must not be too busy seeking balance—embracing politicians from left and right—in order to bring about harmony to achieve political stability. At this difficult time, choose people who can act swiftly, who are willing to work hard and who have the courage to take decisions.