Dear your honor, Golkar party lawmaker, Pak Bambang Soesatyo.
You reiterated that you ‘do not mean to be racist’ and thus refused to apologize to Minister of Trade Mari Elka Pangestu regarding your remark several days ago. Your argument was supported by your colleague from Golkar party who said that that the media seemingly twisted your words hence they looked like racist, while in fact those words are not really the point of your whole statement.
Yes, I could see what your Golkar colleague sees: That the point of your whole argument is not about that racist remark but more referring to ‘incompetent ministers’ in President Yudhoyono’s cabinet and the lack of strict selection in choosing them. Therefore, here I am putting aside the debates of your racist remark’s controversies, and thus just focusing on analyzing your opinion of incompetent ministers in Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s cabinet.
Unfortunately, your criticism of saying Mari Elka Pangestu as an incompetent minister is as irrelevant as saying that she is ‘doing her ministerial tasks for the sake of her Chinese ancestors’. In my opinion, both statements are completely biased and baseless, and obviously they are not the kind of statements that I expect from a lawmaker and people’s representative like you.
Of course, we know that there are some incompetent ministers in the government. But as long as I have been observing, it’s the ministers from political parties –including some ministers from your party– that could be considered as incompetent; not people from professional background, like Ibu Mari.
I am a student in a state university, and I consider myself as lucky enough to have the privilege of sitting in classes and receiving public lectures from some ministers and important policymakers in our government. While I have always been amazed with the breadth of knowledge from ministers of professional background, my encounter with ministers who are from political party background always ended up in disappointment –at least from my own experiences.
Ministers from professional background like Mari Elka Pangestu and Sri Mulyani Indrawati were my lecturers in international economics and macroeconomics class; while several weeks ago Gita Wirjawan visited my faculty to deliver his public lecture. The way Ibu Mari, Ibu Ani, and Pak Gita taught me economics were amazing, and I bet that almost all students who attended their lectures would agree to me.
But how about ministers from political parties? I once had one as my lecturer few semesters ago, and he always came late to the classroom –and my classmates and I had bitter memory when we always had to wait about 1.5 hour before he could start his class. When we ask him questions, he always beaten around the bush and we just could not get his points. My friend even suspected that he redirected the subject because he actually could not answer that question at all.
Outside the university, once I attended a seminar on an event that was brought in English and invited a minister from Golkar –yes, from your party, Pak Bambang– as the speaker. It was such a humiliation for him as his English proficiency was really poor and at that time I was asking myself, “What would foreigners thinking if this kind of guy represent Indonesia at the international stage?”
Moreover, that Golkar colleague of yours even came late to the event and the seminar has to run for about one hour without him.
In fact, history shows that several posts in the ministry such as Trade Minister, Finance Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister, and Investment Board Coordinator were always given to people from professional background and rarely from political parties.
Why? I personally don’t know, but my guessing is: Maybe ministers from political parties background are less competent, and thus President Yudhoyono does not trust them?
We all realize that those ministerial posts could be considered as the most important ones, and assign random people for those crucial posts would be risky. Besides, the tasks for those ministers require more interactions with foreigners compared to other ministerial posts, and thus portraying Indonesia’s image at the international stage.
In addition, the ministers’ names that circulated in the media early this year because they got red marks from Presidential Monitoring Unit (UKP4) all come from political parties. Hence, based on this reality as well as from my own experience with ministers from political parties background, I obviously will not assign them for those important posts if I were a President.
Therefore, if your accusation of ‘incompetent minister in the cabinet’ is directed to my lecturer Ibu Mari, then you are directing your gun to a wrong target. Maybe it is more relevant if you point that kind of criticism to your politician colleagues.
Of course, what I’m saying does not mean all ministers who come from political parties background are all bad and unreliable. Political parties, after all, are important element of democracy and one major road for citizens to participate in the government.
But it seems today most of the Indonesians are tired already and becoming skeptics with Indonesian politics and political parties. This is because the way you and your colleagues act in parliament is disappointing us the taxpayers, who actually pay for your salary.
By the way, I have an advice for you and your fellow lawmakers to restore your image: How about passing a law that requires a cabinet to consist minimum 75% of professionals with no association with political parties? I’m sure that we’ve got more than enough intellectuals in this country who are up for the tasks, and let’s see what Indonesia could achieve in the next few years with these people as ministers.