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Minister or Legislator? That's the Question

Group of Ministers Must Decide by September 10, 2009 if They want to Be Legislators or Try Their Luck at Remaining in the Presidential Cabinet.

(9/7/2009) Four Indonesian Ministers sitting on President Yudhoyono's United Indonesia Cabinet are on the horn of a dilemma. Elected to Sit as Members of the Indonesian House of Representatives, the four ministers are required by law to be sworn in as legislators and take their elected seats on October 1, 2009. This date precedes by 20 days the October 20, 2009 date when President Yudhoyono will take the oath for his second and final term as Indonesia's President.

Indonesian law prohibits anyone from holding both an executive position within the presidential cabinet and a legislative post. Meanwhile, Ministers serve at the pleasure of the President and Yudhoyono is under no requirement to announce his new cabinet before his second inauguration.

Herein, lies the rub. Should the ministers resign their cabinet post and take the oath of a legislator on October 1st or forfeit their elective post in the national legislature in the uncertain hope they will be reappointed to the presidential cabinet?

That, in a nutshell, is the dilemma confronting four of six members of the six presidential cabinet members who have also been elected to take a seat in the next House of Representatives:

State Minister for Cooperatives and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, Surya Dharma Ali (elected to represent the PPP party for West Java III).

State Minister for Disadvantaged Regions, Muhammad Lukman Edy (elected to represent the PKB Party for Riau II).

State Minister for Administrative Reforms, Taufik Effendi (elected to represent the Demokrat Party for South Kalimantan I).

Minister for Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik (elected to represent the Demokrat Party for Bali).

Minister for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Freddy Numberi (elected to represent the Demokrat Party for Papua).

State Minister for Youth and Sports Affair, Adhyaksa Dault (elected to represent the PKS Party for Central Sulawesi).

From the above list, Fredy Numberi and Adyaksa Dault have already resigned their legislative seats, stating their desire to concentrate fully on their ministerial duties until October 20, 2009. This, however, has fueled speculation that both feel personally assured of their inclusion in the next presidential cabinet.

The State Election Committee (KPU) is holding firm on insisting that the October 1st deadline is written in stone, requiring sitting ministers to either resign or forfeit their seat in the next session of the legislature. The election law of 2008 stipulates that no member of the legislature can hold another official positions financed by State budgets.

Quoted in NusaBali, the Chairman of the KPU, Abdul Hafiz Anshari has warned the ministers elected to the legislature that they must decide by September 10, 2009, whether to relinquish their legislative seats in order that their party can submit a replacement to be sworn in as a legislator on October 1st.

As pointed out by NusaBali, sitting ministers who have also been elected to the legislature must make a careful calculation between grabbing the certainty of a seat as a lawmaker or take their chances at being reappointed to the cabinet. A failure to make the right decision could result in an unemployed politician without a seat in either the executive or legislative branches of Indonesia's next government.