The public’s rising anger toward the police and a growing impatience with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo have been partly channeled against Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno, who has acted more like the spokesman of his Nasdem Party than as Jokowi’s chief security minister.
His confrontational remarks have frequently triggered public outrage, reminding people that he tends to defend the interests of his party boss, Surya Paloh, who often overshadows Jokowi’s government.
His most recent contentious statement was one that lashed out at supporters of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), who decried the National Police’s controversial move to arrest and name KPK commissioner Bambang Widjojanto as a criminal suspect on Friday.
Tedjo described the supporters as “absurd” and said that KPK leaders were being “childish” for encouraging the supporters, who voluntarily came to the KPK headquarters on Friday to show their support for the antigraft body and denounce the police’s move against Bambang.
Arif Susanto, who initiated a petition that was featured on the Indonesian page of change.org, a US-based website that promotes social change through online petitions, said that Tedjo’s statement had disparaged the dignity of the Indonesian people and, therefore, he had no choice but to voluntarily step down from his post.
“On Jan. 24, 2015, Minister Tedjo said that the pro-KPK civil movement is ‘absurd support’. It hurts citizens, who represent the country’s highest sovereignty. It is also an attack on freedom of expression. His statement has eliminated the moral foundation of his legitimacy as minister of Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs,” Arif wrote in the petition.
The petition quickly received signatures just minutes after it was posted on Sunday. Netizens gathered on the page to express their anger toward Tedjo.
“It is time for him to resign so that he will not besmirch President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration,” an Indonesian netizen from Frankfurt, Germany, Imelda Box, said on the petition.
Another comment from Antasari Hidayat of Central Kalimantan’s Palangkaraya read: “Just kick him out of the Cabinet because there are lot of people who are more capable than him in this country.”
Meanwhile, Puput Wantorojati of Central’s Java Cilacap posted: “As a minister he is not supposed to utter such a statement. It is clear that he is speaking on behalf of the interests of one particular party. His statement makes the current situation [the conflict between the KPK and the National Police] get worse.”
Tedjo’s way of responding to dissident opinions is similar to the terminology used in the New Order Era under the rule of the country’s former strongman president Soeharto, whose administration labelled dissidents’ criticisms as voices from “absurd or formless organizations”.
In December, Tedjo also drew anger from human rights campaigners after making a statement stressing that unresolved human rights cases were things of the past that should not be resolved.
“It happened in the past. Now, we should continue with a reconciliation process and not go backwards. This country needs to be prosperous instead of looking for others’ mistakes,” Tedjo said at that time.
Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) researcher Ade Irawan suspected that Tedjo, who was Navy chief of staff in 2008 and 2009, might be speaking on behalf of his former party, the pro-government Nasdem Party, not in his capacity as Jokowi’s minister.
“As Tedjo’s boss, Jokowi must reprimand him. If Tedjo remains the same afterwards, then the President should go ahead and replace him. This is not his first controversial statement, as earlier he also made remarks that also hurt the feelings of the public,” Ade said.
Minister Tedjo acts more as Nasdem Party spokesman than as a Cabinet member
Minister sparks outrage by belittling people’s support for KPK
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