JAKARTA (The Straits Times/ANN): Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday (Dec 22) replaced six ministers, in a major cabinet reshuffle aimed at recovering from the coronavirus pandemic which has plunged the country into its first recession since the 1998 financial crisis.
Budi Gunadi Sadikin, a deputy state-owned enterprises minister who also leads the national economic recovery task force, has been named the new Health Minister to replace Dr Terawan Agus Putranto.
Sandiaga Uno, former Jakarta vice governor who also ran in the presidential elections as a deputy to Joko's rival Prabowo Subianto has been appointed Tourism and Creative Economy Minister, replacing Wishnutama Kusubandio.
Prabowo is Indonesia's current Defence Minister. Joko had also replaced two ministers arrested for alleged fraud.
Sakti Wahyu Trenggono has been appointed Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister to replace Edhy Prabowo.
Surabaya mayor Tri Rismaharini will be the new Social Affairs Minister to take over from Juliari Batubara.
New Religious Affairs Minister will be Yaqut Cholil Qoumas, leader of the Ansor youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia's biggest Muslim organisation.
The Trade Minister has also been replaced with Muhammad Lutfi.
Joko, or Jokowi as he is better known, did not make remarks after naming the new ministers. However, he wrote on Facebook: "What's past is past, to live as memories and lessons. We look to tomorrow with determination, enthusiasm, and new hope."
The inauguration of the new ministers will be held on Wednesday (Dec 23).
Cabinet reshuffles can be carried out at any time, but usually around a year after a Cabinet is installed. Ministers were evaluated, and then moved to more suitable posts or replaced if they are seen as not performing well.
Jokowi has threatened a ministerial shake-up as early as June, when he reprimanded his ministers for their lacklustre handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has infected more than 650,000 people and killed around 20,000 in Indonesia.
Incoming Health Minister Budi is hoped to chart a new course of actions and commitments to mitigate the health and economic impacts of Covid-19 in Southeast Asia's largest economy of 270 million people.
The 56-year-old former banker, listed as one of The Straits Times 50 Asians to Watch in 2018, is known to possess strong management skills which may be valuable when dealing with such issues as disbursement of health budgets and distribution of healthcare resources. - The Straits Times/Asia News