Mon, 10 Jan 2000

Graft the reason for potential Cabinet shake-up: Khofifah

JAKARTA (JP): The possibility of a Cabinet reshuffle remains uncertain, but if there is one it will not bear political motives, State Minister of the Empowerment of Women Khofifah Indar Parawansa said on Sunday.

Khofifah said during Idul Fitri celebrations at her official residence that a Cabinet shake-up would be needed if there were ministers involved in corruption, collusion and nepotism or because of human rights abuses.

"The reshuffle will be necessary if the Attorney General's Office finds significant evidence of KKN," she said, referring to the local acronym for corruption, collusion and nepotism.

She added that political reasons or the performance of ministers would not be the cause of a reshuffle, due to President Abdurrahman Wahid's commitment to reconciliation.

Fresh speculations over an imminent Cabinet shake-up were made recently. Coordinating Minister for Political Affairs Gen. Wiranto, Minister of Manpower Bomer Pasaribu and Minister of Trade and Industry Yusuf Kalla are among those said to face dismissal.

Abdurrahman dropped a hint last week when he revealed his plan to pick Khofifah as a replacement for State Secretary Ali Rahman if the latter resigned.

Less than one month after forming the cabinet last October, Abdurrahman said three ministers could be sidelined for graft cases in the past.

Both Wiranto and Minister of Foreign Affairs Alwi Shihab recently stressed there would be no reshuffle in the near future and that rumors of the shake-up were unfounded.

"President Abdurrahman is consistent and there will be no Cabinet shake-up. But who knows what will happen in the next one or two years," Alwi told reporters.

He noted that the meeting between Abdurrahman and Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri on Jan. 2 concerned measures need to cope with the protracted clashes in Maluku and was not about the Cabinet.

There were indeed changes in the Cabinet, when the President named fellow veteran government critics Marsilam Simanjuntak as Cabinet Secretary and Bondan Gunawan as secretary of government supervision on Wednesday.

Khofifah, who is also deputy chairwoman of the National Awakening Party (PKB), which was founded by Abdurrahman, contended that from the beginning Abdurrahman had shown an interest in setting up a clean government.

The President has asked Attorney General Marzuki Darusman to probe all ministers alleged to be involved in graft. He has also repeatedly called on ministers with unclean track records to resign.

Khofifah denied reports that Abdurrahman had asked her to replace Ali Rahman during a meeting between the President and PKB executives.

"The meeting consisted of matters concerning the population board. There was no talk of a Cabinet reshuffle," Khofifah said.

She said the gathering was an internal one and should have not been publicized.

"The President did not know about the presence of reporters at the gathering. I have asked Pak Muhaimin Iskandar (Deputy House of Representatives Speaker from PKB), if he noticed the presence of journalists," she said. (04)