October 12, 2023
JAKARTA – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has appointed State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister Erick Thohir as ad interim coordinating maritime affairs and investment minister following the hospitalization of senior minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.
The appointment was confirmed by Ari Dwipayana, the coordinator of presidential expert staff on Wednesday as reported by Antara: “As Pak Luhut is undergoing medical treatment, the President has appointed Pak Erick as the ad interim coordinating minister.”
Erick will take office as the ad interim coordinating minister on Wednesday until further notice.
Aside from the coordinating minister position, Erick is also set to take on other positions within the government held by Luhut.
The 76-year-old retired military general has been assigned by Jokowi to head several task forces, including the one tasked to control the air pollution over Jakarta and another one supervising the Jakarta-Bandung high-speed rail (HSR).
“The ad interim coordinating minister will perform all tasks assigned to the current minister [Luhut], as long as the position is related to the duties and mandates as a coordinating minister,” Aris said, wishing Luhut a fast recovery and return to duty soon.
Luhut has not made a public appearance in more than a week. He was last seen accompanying Jokowi during the inauguration of the Jakarta-Bandung HSR on Oct. 2.
His absence led to speculation and rumors that he had fallen ill and had been rushed to hospital in Singapore for intensive treatment.
But Luhut’s spokesperson Jodi Mahardi dismissed the rumor, confirming on Monday that Luhut had been hospitalized in Jakarta and that his condition was improving thanks to the treatment.
Luhut finally broke his silence by posting on his Instagram account on Tuesday a photo of him laughing during a 2021 visit to his hometown near Lake Toba in North Sumatra, hosting an investment talk with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
In the caption, he wrote that he had felt overwhelming fatigue and had been admitted to a hospital in Jakarta.
“Due to my condition, I’m not allowed by doctors to do activities as usual,” Luhut wrote. “Even my wife doesn’t allow me to check the latest news and updates, which is my routine every morning.”
“As a person who spends time working and doing other activities, spending several days in a hospital has bored me endlessly,” he added. “But I believe my wife’s attitude and the doctors’ decision is the best for my condition right now.”
After spending several days in a hospital, Luhut said he received an offer from Singaporean Foreign Minister Vivian Balakhrisnan and Senior Minister Teo Chee Hean to undergo rehabilitation and a “further medical check-up and evaluation” in Singapore. Luhut accepted the offer and flew to the city-state on Tuesday afternoon, he wrote on Instagram.
Luhut later expressed his gratitude to Jokowi for assigning the presidential doctor team to treat him in Jakarta.
Due to his hospitalization, Luhut missed the Archipelagic and Island States (AIS) Forum summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, scheduled for Wednesday. The senior minister was appointed last month as the person responsible for the summit’s substantive issues. (alf)