Megawati makes good

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 August, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 August, 2001, 12:00am

It was never on the cards for Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri to appoint a cabinet of politicians who brought no political baggage with them. There are too many debts owed for past favours to hope for a wholly uncomplicated line-up. But she has allayed the worst predictions of the doomsayers.

The list was a long time in coming - it is three weeks since the ousting of quixotic cleric Abdurrahman Wahid - pointing to some difficult personal decisions as well as customary behind-the-scenes horse trading by the various political factions that make up the Indonesian Parliament. But international investors will be encouraged by the inclusion of highly professional technocrats charged with reviving the shattered economy, and that takes priority over the other mammoth problems awaiting the attention of the enigmatic new leader.

The appointment of Dorodjatun Kuntjoro Jakti as Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy is an encouraging start. Mr Kuntjoro-Jakti is an academic with little administrative experience, but more importantly he is market-friendly, and believed to favour increased privatisation. He should work well alongside Finance Minister Boediono, known for his integrity and professionalism. With Laksamana Sukardi, another highly respected economics guru as State Minister of State Enterprises, there is genuine scope for solving - at any rate alleviating - Indonesia's financial woes.

Inevitably, a few names take some of the shine off the list. Ms Megawati has made no secret of her commitment to 'unity'. It is hoped her choice of military hardliner Hari Sabarno to head the ministry of Home Affairs does not signal an intention to put the genie back in the bottle over regional independence. That would be a recipe for more chaos.

Overall the President will earn praise for her wise decisions. In particular the appointment of US-educated Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as Co-ordinating Minister for Politics and Security.

Given cross-party support it is just possible Ms Megawati can steer the country out of its long-running crisis. The task facing her is monumental, but she might yet prove to be a leader of the same stamp as her father.



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Megawati makes good

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