Jakarta Globe's version
Yudhoyono Slams Report as ‘Fictionâ€™
Sri Mulyani Indrawatiâ€™s job seemed more secure on Tuesday after an angry President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono lashed out against a newspaper article reporting a supposed deal that would see the Finance Minister replaced by the end of next month.
President Yudhoyono accused the report, based on anonymous sources, of pitting him against political parties.
â€śSomething that is not happening has been created out of nothing. This could have the potential to disturb the markets and hurt the rupiah. It also creates a strange political condition and fuels slander, fiction, political intrigue and something that is outside of the Constitution,â€ť Yudhoyono said following a meeting in Madiun, East Java.
His statement came a day after an article in the Jakarta Post quoted anonymous sources from the Golkar Party saying the finance minister would be forced out. The story was picked up by a number of domestic and international news agencies.
It added that she would be replaced by Anggito Abimanyu, the head of the Fiscal Policy Agency, in February.
The story was denied by the presidentâ€™s office and Golkar.
â€śThe sources stated that the finance minister would be replaced by a person with the initials AA. Who is AA? I donâ€™t even know. They say the source is from Golkar,â€ť Yudhoyono said. â€śThis is pitting me against Golkar and Pak Ical [Golkar Chairman Aburizal Bakrie.] It is creative but creative in a bad way.â€ť
Considered icons of reform, both Vice President Boediono and Sri Mulyani have in recent days faced the House of Representatives special committee investigating the 2008 bail-out of PT Bank Century.
Sri Mulyaniâ€™s rocky relationship with Aburizal has been widely reported. She told the Wall Street Journal last month that the House inquiry was aimed at ousting her because Golkar officials did not agree with the reforms she was trying to usher in.
Numerous calls to the Jakarta Post were not returned on Tuesday.
Political expert Andrinof Chaniago said the supposed plot to remove Sri Mulyani could no longer even be considered so much as a rumor.
â€śIt is hardly a rumor. What might have happened is that a single political party wants to create a condition in order to gain power by putting its own party member or appointee in the post vacated by Sri Mulyani,â€ť he told the Jakarta Globe, adding that the same party could be trying to destabilize Yudhoyonoâ€™s coalition.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives welcomed the Finance Minister with a round of applause at a House plenary session on Tuesday and praised her for providing them with a near-perfect accountability report on the 2008 State Budget.
â€śThis, by far, is the best budget accountability report in the past 10 years, as the deficit nears zero,â€ť Sri Mulyani said. In her report to the audience of lawmakers - many of whom also questioned her over the bailout as members of the House special committee - she underlined the significance of the global financial meltdown in 2008.
Sri Mulyani also dismissed talk that there was a cabinet reshuffle in the offing.
â€śThe President himself has said there is no reshuffle,â€ť Sri Mulyani said.
Democratic Party leader Anas Urbaningrum reiterated that message, saying the presidentâ€™s party would focus instead on conducting a thorough cabinet evaluation.