Subianto and Jokowi went head-to-head in the 2014 and 2019 heated elections that showcased a national divide, triggering a prolonged and fierce fight between Subianto’s supporters called “kampret” (baby bats) and Jokowi’s supporters “cebong “ (baby frogs) on social media.
Following the announcement of results of the presidential elections on May 22, 2019, unrest erupted in Jakarta, as Subianto’s supporters believed that the April 2019 election was marred by massive and systematic frauds. At least nine people, mostly teenagers, were killed during the rally.
Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak, Prabowo Subianto’s spokesman, recently stated during a television talk show that the retired general had accepted the offer since as a patriot, he was keen to give his utmost contribution to the country and nation. Furthermore, he has carved out a niche in defense affairs, so he accepted it, he stated.
"I believe I don't have to tell him about his job - he knows more than I do," Jokowi remarked while announcing Prabowo Subianto's new role.
Subianto, 68, was an ex-commander of the Indonesian Army's Special Forces (Kopassus) during the administration of Indonesia's second president Soeharto, who was also his father-in-law.
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On Oct 21, Prabowo Subianto, the founder and chairman of Gerindra Party's Advisory Board, was called to the presidential palace by Jokowi. On the occasion, he was accompanied by Edhy Prabowo, the deputy chairman of Gerindra.
He accepted the offer to become defense minister to replace Ryamizard Ryacudu, while Edhy Prabowo as maritime affairs and fisheries minister to succeed Susi Pudjiastuti.
Subianto, the son of Indonesia's prominent economist Sumitro Djojohadikusumo, failed to become Golkar Party chairman and decided to establish Gerindra (Movement of Great Indonesia) party in 2008.
He contested thrice in the direct presidential elections, but success had eluded him until now. He was the vice presidential candidate, running mate of presidential candidate Megawati Soekarnoputri in 2009, and later the presidential candidate in the 2014 and 2019 presidential elections.
However, some people, including the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Chairman Bambang Soesatyo, praised Jokowi’s decision to include Subianto in his cabinet.
Soesatyo is confident that Subianto is the right choice for defense minister owing to his competence in defense affairs.
"I have heard that he could be appointed defense minister. Yes, it is because of his competence in the field of defense," the senior politician of Golkar Party remarked prior to the cabinet announcement.
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He expressed hope that Indonesia would have a strong defense system in place and garner respect in Asia and the global arena.
Soesatyo voiced Jokowi’s keenness for political reconciliation to ensure stability during his subsequent five-year term by appointing Subianto.
"I think what is taking place these days, including the presence of Prabowo, is a political reconciliation that Jokowi is making for the stability of the government in the next five years," Soesatyo remarked.
Reconciliation has taken place in the Parliament, and it is further strengthened in the Jokowi-Ma'ruf Amin government's cabinet, he stated.
Jokowi announced the complete list of his cabinet ministers that comprised old hands and fresh faces on the steps of the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on October 23, 2019.
The 38-member cabinet line-up comprise four coordinating ministers, 31 ministers, and three ministerial-level officials. Some 23 of them are fresh faces.
They also include five women, as compared to seven in Jokowi’s previous cabinet. Of the five, two are fresh faces. Sri Mulyani, Retno Marsudi, and Siti Nurbaya retain their ministerial posts respectively as finance minister, foreign affairs minister, and environmental affairs and forestry minister.
Another interesting fresh face in the cabinet is Nadiem Makarim, the 35-year-old co-founder and chief executive of Gojek ride-hailing and payments firm. Makarim has been entrusted to hold the post of education and culture minister.
After meeting Jokowi at the palace on Oct 21, Makaraim spoke of having tendered his resignation from the Unicorn startup since he had taken up an offer to be part of the Joko Widodo Administration’s new cabinet line-up.
"I have relinquished my position in Gojek, and I no longer hold any authority. As per today, I have no position nor power whatsoever in Gojek," Makarim told the media.
Makarim admitted to having many plans on innovations for Indonesia.
In the meantime, Jokowi has made seven instructions amply clear for the ministers to follow.
He warned them to not become involved in corruption; to focus on the vision and mission of the President and the Vice President; to work in a hard, fast, and productive manner; not become trapped in routine and monotonous activities; to conduct concrete, result-oriented works; to check problems on the field and find solutions; and to work seriously.
"Those who are not serious, for sure (he or she), will be replaced," he affirmed.