This week, Jakarta bid goodbye for now to the Australian ambassador as fallout continued over the execution of two Australian citizens. Meanwhile, rumours spread about a cabinet reshuffle, drama continued among police and anti-corruption investigators, and the Indonesian president headed for Papua to talk infrastructure.
Ambassador Paul Grigson was recalled by the Australian Government over the weekend in protest of the executions of drug convicts Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Grigson, who has only been in the post since January, left Jakarta for Perth on Sunday to discuss Australia's next steps with Julie Bishop. The impact of his departure was somewhat diminished by the fact that the Foreign Minister had already said on Friday that it was time for Australia and Indonesia to 'seek to move on'. This was backed up on Saturday by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who said he was confident the two countries would soon be able to 'rebuild the relationship'. By the time Grigson left on Sunday, it was clear that he wouldn't be gone for long. Local media called Australia's action gertak sambal, or 'chili bluff' — the kind that makes you sweat, but definitely isn't deadly.
President Jokowi was also either bluffing or caught out on Monday when he responded with a tone of surprise to reporters' questions about rumours of a cabinet reshuffle. In fact, Vice President Jusuf Kalla had already begun telling the press of an imminent reshuffle in response to reported dissatisfaction with the current lineup. The question is whether this dissatisfaction is coming more from the public or from politicians.
Jokowi's 'Working Cabinet' was inaugurated in October last year amid great expectations of clean appointments and clean governance. Jokowi had every candidate vetted by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), which uncovered several suspicious cases among high-ranking figures, who were subsequently barred from serving. Nonetheless, the final lineup was criticised at the time as a 'cabinet of compromises'. Several figures are now copping criticism in the House of Representatives for being too loyal to either Jokowi or Megawati (leader of Jokowi's party, the PDI-P). One rumour says that a close advisor to Jokowi could be replaced by Megawati's deputy in the PDI-P.
The KPK certainly had a lot on its plate this week. The anti-corruption body has been busy defending another of its senior investigators from police charges, but has still found time to detain a Yudhoyono-era minister over two cases of alleged graft.
Senior KPK investigator Novel Baswedan filed a pretrial motion against the police this week over his arrest regarding a long-settled case dating back to 2004. Police detained Baswedan earlier this month, defying a direct order from the President not to do so, in the interests of improving cooperation between the police, KPK and Attorney General's office. The re-emergence of the case after so many years is widely seen as being drummed up by the National Police as part of its ongoing tussle with the KPK. Meanwhile, the KPK got on with the job by detaining Jero Wacik, who served in the tourism and energy ministries under former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The former minister is accused of causing state losses of up to Rp 16 billion, or around $1.5 million.
On Friday, Jokowi will head to Papua and West Papua for the second time in his term. The first visit was at Christmas, a trip that was overshadowed by the deaths of five West Papuans following a clash with security forces in early December. On this visit, Jokowi plans to address a campaign promise to respond to underdevelopment in the region, though it seems infrastructure will be a greater focus than human development or rights. Aside from making his trademark 'blusukan' visits to traditional markets, the president is scheduled to launch a petrochemical factory, a power plant, a tourism zone and the installation of fiber optic cables to improve telecommunications.
Photo by Flickr user Axel Drainville.