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JAKARTA, Dec 22 — Indonesia’s president announced today a sweeping reshuffle of his Cabinet, including a replacement for a health minister criticised for his perceived mishandling of the country’s coronavirus crisis.
President Joko Widodo, known by his nickname Jokowi, said six ministers would be replaced, including in the portfolios of health, trade, tourism and fisheries. The newcomers will be inaugurated tomorrow.
Outgoing health minister Terawan Agus Putranto, a military radiologist and former personal physician to Jokowi’s late mother, has faced public calls to resign over a coronavirus caseload that is among Asia’s biggest.
At the start of the pandemic, Terawan was criticised for suggesting that prayer could help protect people from the virus. Indonesia has recorded over 678,000 cases and 20,250 deaths.
Budi Gunadi Sadikin, a former head of Bank Mandiri and chief of Indonesia’s economic recovery taskforce, would take over the health portfolio.
Olivia Herlinda, policy director at the NGO Center for Indonesia’s Strategic Development Initiatives, said the reshuffle was an opportunity for a more effective approach.
“The new (health) minister should quickly map out the gaps in Covid-19 handling thus far and prioritise strategic actions,” she said.
Jokowi had hinted at the reshuffle back in June after lamenting to his cabinet a lack of “sense of crisis” among his ministers, and inefficient government spending.
Muhammad Lutfi, currently Indonesia’s ambassador to Washington and a trade minister under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, will replace Agus Suparmanto as trade minister.
A politician from one of the Islamic parties in Jokowi’s coalition, Agus had been accused of not doing enough to increase export competitiveness when Covid-19 was crippling world trade.
The reshuffle come weeks after the ministers of fisheries and social affairs were named as suspects in corruption cases by the nation’s anti-graft body.
Jokowi also appointed incumbent Surabaya mayor Tri Rismaharini as social affairs minister and Sandiaga Uno, a businessman and former Jakarta deputy governor, as tourism minister. — Reuters