All The President’s Men: Jokowi’s Need for a Cabinet Reshuffle
By N Mark Castro
As the country awaits the much-need cabinet reshuffle, let’s look at some of the controversial statements of our beloved public servants.
Let’s start with the very wealthy Minister of Trade Rachmat Gobel who, prior to his appointment, was the local partner and franchise owner of PT. Panasonic Gobel. According to reports, he would divest himself from ownership.
So far, so good.
During the earlier part of his appointment, Rachmat revealed that the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transportation should be governed by the Ministry of Industry. With the unification, according to him, progress in Indonesia can be guaranteed.
That’s how gung-ho he was. He wasn’t satisfied with one Ministry, he wanted two more.
Now, Ministers are supposed to be the representative of the president. They can engage and debate the president, argue each issue, but they are there to convey the message of the president, not theirs. They are there to stand for the president who could not be in all places at the same time.
Which brings the controversy about Minister Gobel quite, how shall we say it, peculiar.
According to the Minister himself, the country is under the threat of textile invasion with the flooding of cheap, second-hand clothing, saying further that it was damaging the local textile industry.
Now, ministerial policies are usually to protect the interest of the nation, but what brought Minister Gobel to international attention, however, wasn’t his dedication to promote Indonesia’s trade and investment but his strict plan to curtail the influx of second-hand clothes.
There were so many legal justifications if the Minister so desired to stop other countries from turning Indonesia into a dumping ground. His reason, however, was painfully embarrassing.
According to Minister Gobel, second-hand clothes “could spread HIV as he campaigned to stop the import of used garments.”
Rachmat Gobel was quoted in local media saying used clothes could cause “skin diseases, HIV. It is true, we have seen a lab result”.
There went the ballgame.
Gobel quickly apologised after his comments were widely reported, posting on Twitter he had meant to say that “wearing used clothes can transmit many kinds of diseases”.
“But this did little to calm the public’s anger, with Twitter user Siwiestu saying that it was “such a shame that a highly educated man… still misunderstands HIV”.
“Oh dear, did the minister go to school?” commented Siti Umayah, adding: “His statement is embarrassing.”
HIV. LAB RESULT.
Ever since his appointment, Trade Minister Gobel has gobbled up to the most ridiculous actions: slapping a ban on sales of beer at convenience stores as if kids in the country are out there on binge drinking.
And yet, a nation with 200,000 annual deaths due to tobacco, easily accessible and bought right next to children’s schools, can be lit up anywhere in the malls, and with at least 10 million child smokers, he does nothing to improve the toothless anti-tobacco policy.
He has been already criticized by some investors and analysts, including the International Monetary Fund, as being overly defensive.
Upon the invitation of the Jakarta Foreign Correspondents’ Club, Minister Gobel willingly came again but — according to Unspun:
Trade Minister Rahman Gobel, on the other hand, approached today’s talk with much more confidence. He brought along a translator because he felt safer speaking in Indonesian to prevent misquotes. he also brought with him a sweet young translator who proceeded to fumble her translations due to lack of inexperience.
Her performance was so poor that midway through a former expert staff of the former trade minister Gita Wirjawan had to volunteer to translate to save the day. She was very clear and professional, although she had to work off from what the Minister said.
Despite the mushrooming presence of English-language schools in the country, it is quite surprising to see how the nation’s best man to represent our international and domestic trade can fumble this much.
But Minister’s Gobel is Einstein compared to this —
Perhaps armed with his doctorate degree, he thought he could put the entire nation in the best light by crafting his own correspondence without the benefit of an interpreter — or any of his staff who might have a friend of a friend.
And then there’s Minister Susi who has decided to take on a netizen. I’m sure she’s aware that Jakarta is the leading city on earth when it comes to Twitter.
Minister Susi continues her relentless march to mangle the English language.
The president — who should be properly represented — is on a warpath against drugs, especially since the revised data that the president is now showing the world is the 30-40 daily deaths that justifies the executions. Never mind the 200,000 annual deaths from tobacco or the 10 million young children addicted to it.
But at least government agencies are following the stern warning of the president.
I’d offer my services to teach but … why spoil the fun.