More ministries, more problems? Indonesia’s Prabowo faces business, corruption risks if cabinet is expanded

by Admin
More ministries, more problems? Indonesia's Prabowo faces business, corruption risks if cabinet is expanded


The idea of adding more ministries to the incoming president’s cabinet has been floated since last month by members of the Advanced Indonesia Coalition which supported Mr Prabowo’s election bid.

“There is a need (for more ministers),” Mr Budiman Sujatmiko, the coalition’s advisor told Tribun news portal on May 7. “Prabowo wants his strategic programmes to be implemented quickly like free lunch, affordable school, public housing in villages and cities.”

The free lunch initiative has been the centrepiece of Mr Prabowo’s nationwide campaigning prior to the Feb 14 presidential election. Mr Prabowo won 59 per cent of the votes and has been officially declared the winner of the election by Indonesia’s General Elections Commission.

“In terms of the number (of ministers), the president elect, Mr Prabowo will consult legal experts about it. Can we spin off (several ministries)? Can we replace (several ministries) in the form of agencies? Will there be a ministry for food and nutrition? We shall see,” said Mr Budiman.

Although the coalition maintained that the potential larger administration is meant to expedite Mr Prabowo’s key election promises, analysts see the move as nothing more than pork barrel politics – the use of government spending for local projects – designed to accommodate his coalition partners.

“With a big-sized cabinet, Prabowo can accommodate many interests, including those which are now in the opposition camp,” said Mr Burhanuddin Muhtadi, a visiting fellow at the ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute.

At the February election, Mr Prabowo was supported by a coalition of nine political parties, four of which managed to secure seats in the national parliament: Golkar, the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Democratic Party.

The National Democratic Party (Nasdem) and the National Awakening Party (PKB), which originally supported Mr Prabowo’s rival, Mr Anies Baswedan at the polls, have both expressed their interests in joining Prabowo’s coalition of parties. Both parties have also secured seats in the 2024 parliament. 

Mr Prabowo’s team is still approaching the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the two other parties with enough votes to secure seats at the incoming parliament.

To secure a seat in the national parliament, parties must secure 4 per cent of the total number of national votes. 

“Prabowo could be awarding ministerial positions to parties which qualified for parliament and vice ministerial positions for those which didn’t,” Mr Burhanuddin said, adding that Prabowo also needs to think about volunteer groups and individuals who were instrumental during his campaign, such as the Prabowo-Gibran Digital Team (PRIDE), and Projo, the former volunteer group of outgoing president Joko Widodo. 

“Now that Prabowo won (the election) everybody will want a slice of the pie,” Mr Burhanuddin added.


So far, only the PDI-P has expressed its rejection of the possible cabinet expansion. The party only represents 19 per cent of the seats in the current parliament, meaning there might be little resistance for this law revision to be enacted.

However, former coordinating minister for politics, law and security, Mahfud MD opposed the idea of adding more ministries.

“The bigger the number of ministries, the bigger the source for corruption,” the law professor said at a discussion at the Indonesian Islamic University in Yogyakarta on May 8.

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