I always feel that this is not the right time for our current system of democracy to be applied in our country. Not that I am with Suharto’s tyrannical regime, but I would rather Indonesia adopt a so-called semi-democracy system in which there are only 4 or 5 political parties in parliament and people do not directly vote for their representatives and executives. I assume the semi-democracy system is more cost effective versus the current system which is so expensive and is not meeting the purpose of the democracy itself.
One of the outcomes of our current democracy system is the Kabinet Indonesia Bersatu led by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. It consists of 34 ministers and like what many political analysts say, this number is just too large. In fact, traditionally, the size of the Indonesian cabinet has always been more than 30 people since Suharto’s era.
If we compare with other countries, we can see that the United States’ cabinet which consists of 15 members only, or Singapore’s cabinet with 19 members (if we also count Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong). So, do we really need a cabinet with a large number of members in the future?
In 2004, President SBY appointed so many cabinet members while he actually could form a smaller and more effective cabinet. Why was that? Because at that time President had to establish a power-sharing condition with some political parties in the parliament so he had to accommodate the representation of each political fraction in his cabinet.
Consequently, the size of the cabinet became larger than what was expected by many of us. Some positions were not so essential to be in the cabinet because they could be managed as a directorate general or an agency under one ministry or department. The Ministry for Administrative Reforms (Pendayagunaan Aparatur Negara), for instance, which I think it can be a special agency under Home Affairs Department. Or some other positions that can be merged into one position only.
In the future after the new President is elected, I hope the size of the cabinet can be reduced to 15 – 20 members only. I believe our new President will be able to make an effective and efficient cabinet as long as he/she can build a good relationship and coalition with the parliament. So, a strong support from the parliament is very important.
My ideas about the future cabinet:
- The next cabinet should have no more Coordinating Ministers. Currently we have 3 coordinating ministers and I don’t think the President really needs them for coordinating the other ministers, especially if the number of the cabinet members can be reduced
- No more State Ministers. Each minister head one department
- Minister of Foreign Affairs
- Minister of Home Affairs, will also be responsible for Administrative Reforms and the Acceleration of Underdeveloped Regions Development – currently held by 2 state ministers – plus the Indonesia Police Chief will report to this position
- Minister of Defense, ideally the Armed Forces (TNI) is reporting to Defense Minister
- Minister of Justice (currently Minister of Law & Human Rights), ideally this position acts as the General Attorney
- Minister of Finance, will also be responsible for State Enterprises (BUMN) and National Development Planning/Bappenas – currently held by 2 state ministers
- Minister of Commerce and Industry, merged – currently there are 2 separate deparments: Trade and Industry, will also be responsible for Cooperatives and Small/Medium Enterprises – currently held by one state minister
- Minister of Energy and Natural Resources
- Minister of Forestry
- Minister of Agriculture, will also be responsible for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries – currently held by one minister
- Minister of Health and Social Services, merged – currently there are 2 separate deparments: Health and Social Services
- Minister of Education, will also be responsible for Youth & Sport Affairs and Women’s Empowerment – currently held by 2 state ministers
- Minister of Religious Affairs
- Minister of Labor, will also be responsible for Transmigration
- Minister of Public Works, will also be responsible for Public Housing – currently held by a state minister
- Minister of Tourism and Culture
- Minister of Information and Technology, will also be responsible for Communication, Research and Technology – currently held by a state minister
- Minister of Transportation
- Minister of Environment
- There will be only one cabinet-level official: The Secretary of the Cabinet.
So, in total the cabinet will only have 18 members plus the Vice President and the Secretary of the Cabinet. This is cool, isn’t it?