Jokowi's reprimand to ministers on presidential term ambiguous: YLBHI

CNN Indonesia – April 10, 2022
President Widodo chairing plenary cabinet session – Undated (Antara)

Jakarta – The Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) says that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's statement asking his ministers to not talk about extending his term in office was an ambiguous sentence.

YLBHI Chairperson Muhammad Isnur says that Widodo's statement did not explicitly state that extending the president's term in office conflicts with the constitution or is dangerous.

"Jokowi's statement was ambiguous. His statement only asked his ministers not to talk about it but did not explicitly state that he is prepared to reject (an extension of his term)", said Isnur during a virtual press conference on Monday April 10.

Isnur said that it is appropriate to question Widodo's statement because earlier he said that the discourse on extending the president's term was a proposal from the public. He also stated that he would obey the constitution.

On the other hand however, there are movements and pressure to amend the constitution which regulates the limits on presidential terms. This movement is being promoted by various institutions and political parties.

The most recent was Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian who said that amendments to the 1945 Constitution are not taboo.

"But at other opportunities when he said that he would respect the constitution we have also seen that there was pressure, movements which indeed had plans to amend the constitution", said Isnur.

Isnur says that extending the president's term in office is no longer a discourse but has already become a plan.

The YLBHI suspects that this policy is coming from the Palace because it has been thrown up by two of Widodo's coordinating ministers.

"Imagine, both Coordinating [Economics] Minister Airlangga [Hartarto] and Menko Marves [Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment] Pak [Mr] Luhut [Binsar Pandjaitan] have publically voice a desire for this" said Isnur.

In addition to this, Isnur also warned that not long ago mass media reports uncovered an alleged operation or plot to mobilise village officials to support extending the president's term.

"And then we saw on the ground that there was a mobilisation, there were campaigns, billboards everywhere, and support from everywhere, this was not part of something natural but was mobilised", said Isnur.

Earlier, Widodo instructed members of the Onward Indonesia Cabinet not to speak about postponing the 2024 legislative and presidential elections. He asked the ministers to instead focus on the problems confronting the public.

"Don't let there be any more [people] talking about a postponement, [or] an extension", said Widodo during a plenary cabinet session at the State Palace on Tuesday April 5.

The discourse on postponing the elections has come up several times of late. A number of political parties such as the National Awakening Party (PKB), the Golkar Party and the National Mandate Party (PAN) have declared that they agree with the election postponement. The discourse has attracted strong criticism from many parties.

According to a CNN Indonesia source, the source of all the instructions to the political parties to support this originated from Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan. (iam/DAL)

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "YLBHI: Ucapan Jokowi Larang Menteri Bicara Jabatan 3 Periode Bersayap".]