Tuesday, 03 July, 2012 | 15:51 WIB
Dahlan Iskan Not Doing Himself Any Favors, Going by Palace Rumors
TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:A loud protest was drafted out by Dipo Alam in a two-page memorandum addressed to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. The memorandum opens with the Indonesian Cabinet Secretary referring to State-Owned Enterprises Minister Dahlan Iskan’s report on the replacement of the president director and chair of the board of commissioners at five state companies: agricultural firms Perkebunan Nusantara III, Perkebunan Nusantara IV Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia, shipmaker PAL Indonesia and arms manufacturer Pindad.
In the following section of the letter, dated April 10 of this year, Dipo’s actual complaints began.
He suggests that Dahlan’s replacements of key positions at the state-owned enterprises, or SOEs, were inappropriate. Dahlan was viewed in Dipo’s opinion as deceitful, because he appointed the directors and commissioners without involving the government’s Final
Assessment Team (TPA), chaired by the President. “As a result, complaints have arisen from the public…,” he said, warning that Dahlan’s actions have begun to produce problems.
In response to the memorandum, the President outlined his disposition in three points. Firstly, Yudhoyono instructed Dipo to convey this to the SOEs Minister. “Speed is of the essence, but don’t violate regulations. There could be a ‘time bomb’. The President wrote of what he wanted to be conveyed.
It is this warning of a “time bomb” that has now leaked all over.
The President’s top secret document is circulating outside the palace and it tells of the growing tensions in relationships that have exacerbated with President Yudhoyono’s cabinet. Dipo, who in these matters is said to be aligned with State Secretary Minister Sudi Silalahi, is resentful that he was not consulted in the process of appointing the new leadership of the SOEs. Dahlan is regarded as someone who plays by his own rules. “Mr. Dipo Alam protested because, as TPA
Secretary, he wasn’t asked to participate [in the discussions over change in leadership at the SOEs],” said top economy minister Hatta Rajasa.
This is despite the fact that, in accordance with Presidential Instruction No. 9/2005, the SOEs
Minister is instructed to report the results of the Ministry’s searches for candidates as directors, commissioners, or members of supervisory boards of state-owned enterprises, to the TPA.
In this team, Dipo occupies the position of secretary, the vice-chair is held by the Vice
President, and its members are the Finance Minister and the SOEs Minister himself. In their hands, all of the candidates would go through their final screening.
One high-ranking SOEs official, who is close to Dahlan, told that relations between his boss, Dipo and Sudi have indeed been strained with tension.
In fact, it has been so since the former journalist was appointed to lead state electricity firm
Perusahaan Listrik Negara (PLN). “Prior to his appointment as minister, Dahlan was determined to choose his team of replacements at PLN himself. But pressure came from the Palace to appoint different people,” said the source last week.
Another source who is also close to Dahlan added that the friction between the two groups worsened when Dahlan suddenly appointed Ismed Hasan Putro as president director of PT
Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia (RNI), last March. Aides and special staffers at the Palace were annoyed. They questioned as to how it was that a person, who six months previous to his appointment was fond of criticizing President Yudhoyono, could suddenly be handpicked as the president director of a state-owned enterprise.
In response to those criticisms, Dahlan said that an obligation of the government was to embrace those who were previously critics. To take the stance that all those who have different opinions are opposed and considered permanent enemies, is not an option. It is possible that those people were making a contribution by offering outside criticism. “We have to accept it, if now they want to contribute from inside the government,” the source said, echoing Dahlan’s response.
Problems heating up the cabinet are also coming from Dahlan’s own systemic efforts. Arguing for efficiency in and reform of state-owned enterprises, Dahlan put forward a concept of accelerated downsizing, or rightsizing, of state-owned enterprises. He proposed this plan in a limited cabinet meeting at Bogor Palace on December 7 of last year. Of the 141 state-owned enterprises which operate in almost all sectors of industry at this time, he targeted having only around 70 by the end of 2014.
Those that were small and no longer productive would be forced to accept mergers. The less than healthy would be restructured while the strong would be required to undertake acquisitions and become parent companies.
Another crucial factor in those proposals involved the administration of directors and commissioners at state-owned companies. Dahlan identified that one of the biggest problems at the SOEs Ministry was that the leadership of the companies could never create solid teams with integrity. On the contrary, processes which involved the meddling of too many parties was what tended to cause disorganization.
The aims of Dahlan’s proposals were easily guessed. He wanted a process of replacing directors and commissioners which was shorter and faster. If it could be possible, the process should take no longer than one month. With the aim of increasing returns and avoiding corruption at the civil servant level, he also proposed that in the future, all Echelon I officials could run for the post of commissioner at the SOEs Ministry.
Y. Tomi Aryanto, Nugroho Dewanto, Agoeng Wijaya