TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Ignasius Jonan was not unemployed for very long after he was dismissed as transportation minister by President Joko Widodo last July. He only had two months and a half to relax and unwind from his previous tension-filled job. On October 14, he returned to the cabinet with a new title: energy and mineral resources minister
According to Jonan, President Jokowi summoned him to his office sometime at the end of August. At that time, the President only told Jonan that he had a task for Jonan to take on. In the morning of October 14, State Secretary Pratikno met Jonan to resume what the President told him. About 11am, Pratikno called, asking him to attend his swearing-in ceremony at 1:30pm. Jonan was accompanied by Arcandra Tahar, who served as energy and mining minister for 20 days, from July 27 to August 16 of this year, and who is now Jonan's deputy.
A mountain of work awaited Jonan, 53, when he started his new portfolio. He must resolve the controversial one-price fuel policy, although the 35 megawatt electricity project is still ongoing. He spent his first two weeks on the job meeting people in his ministry and energy-related state-owned companies. "They gave me a lot of reading material," said Yonan, two weeks ago.
A week after he was sworn in, Jonan met with Tempo reporters Sapto Yunus, Ali Nur Yasin, Khairul Anam, Robby Irfany and Reza Maulan for an hour-long interview. He spoke of how he was chosen to head the most onerous ministry in the government, he discussed energy issues and the challenge of reforming state-owned companies and his own ministry. "State-owned companies are given bigger revenues because of their operational capacity to manage uncertainty," said Jonan.
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You have never dealt with the energy sector before, yet here you are heading it . Are you ready for the job?
I believe in the leadership of the President. So, if I'm assigned (to do something), my answer would be that I am ready to carry out my duty. I am very happy he has given me his trust once again.
Did the President give you any special instruction? Like the restructuring of certain units.
Yes, but my second meeting with the President is not for media consumption.
When did you know that Arcandra Tahar would be your deputy?
It was 11am when the State Secretary called me to the palace again.
Will Archandra's dual citizenship affect the ministry's performance?
No. The matter has been settled.
How will you divide the work between you and Arcandra?
We will work together. As in airplanes, there are two steering wheels. One is in the hands of the pilot in command and the other is the flight officer. There is a division of labor, it's flexible. My deputy minister is experienced on technical issues. So, we complement each other.
When you were in charge of the transportation ministry, your focus was on safety at work. What will it be now?
Safety is a lifelong goal of mine. In the energy sector, the focus will be to comply with Article 33 of our 1945 Constitution. That's also the direction given by the President.
Looks like your first challenge will be the standardization of the fuel price.
It's not a challenge, it's a goal. That's the President's decision, which in my opinion, is extraordinary. We must carry it out.