February 1, 2024
JAKARTA – Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD has announced his resignation from the cabinet to allow him to focus on running for vice president and avoid any potential misuse of power ahead of the election next month.
Mahfud shared the news on the campaign trail at Pura Ulun Danu in Central Lampung regency, Lampung, on Wednesday and showed to the public the resignation letter he had prepared to give to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo soon when he has the chance to do so.
“I will give this [resignation letter] when I finally meet the president, I’ve just been carrying it around because I want to give it straightaway [to Jokowi] when I have the chance,” Mahfud said.
“I will ask permission from the President, and I will report that [my duty] is done,” Mahfud added, saying that he wanted to leave on a good note.
Previously, during a private meeting with State Secretary Pratikno on Monday night, Mahfud filed a request with the State Secretariat to hold a meeting with Jokowi.
The State Secretary said that Mahfud’s meeting request would have to wait until Thursday, when Jokowi is scheduled to return to the capital, at which time it will be relayed to the President.
Jokowi has been on a work visit to Yogyakarta and several Central Java cities since Friday, while Mahfud was to visit Banda Aceh on Wednesday evening for a public discussion with potential voters there after wrapping up his campaign in Lampung. Mahfud said that he would be back in Jakarta on Thursday.
Presidential special staff coordinator Ari Dwipayana said previously that a minister usually resigns by tendering a resignation letter to the President and “there is a mechanism in which the President either accepts or rejects the resignation”.
In a press release issued later on Wednesday, Mahfud said his resignation was to encourage a fair and accountable election, saying that he preferred to “avoid conflicts of interest”.
Mahfud is not a member of any party, but he is the running mate to presidential candidate Ganjar Pranowo of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and is therefore competing against frontrunner Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto and running mate Gibran Rakabuming Raka, as well as Anies Baswedan and Muhaimin Iskandar.
[Candidates agree with Ma’ruf on why ministers should resign for election::https://www.thejakartapost.com/indonesia/2024/01/03/candidates-agree-with-maruf-on-why-ministers-should-resign-for-election.html]
Speaking after the second vice presidential debate in early January, Mahfud said he would resign from the cabinet to focus on the February election.
Mahfud then repeated the statement on the campaign trail last week, saying he has been considering resigning since before the first debate in December of last year.
“That way, I’ll be able to reveal the actual data more freely, and it will be more ethical for me to access that data if I am not in the government.”
Mahfud’s plan to resign followed a call from his running mate Ganjar for all candidates and campaigners to resign from their government posts to prevent the abuse of state power.
“I respect his decision, which shows that he has integrity,” Ganjar said in a press release on Wednesday. “Let’s hope this sets a good example for others to follow.”
Prevailing regulations allow ministers to retain their positions and take regular leave while running for elected office or campaigning for their candidates. But activists have said that allowing ministers to take leave, rather than resigning, could distract them from their jobs or lead to ethical violations because they can be prone to promote themselves while on duty.
President Jokowi has said that Mahfud is free to leave the cabinet if he wishes.
PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto said on Tuesday that Mahfud’s resignation plan has secured a nod from party chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri “for quite some time” and that all political parties backing the Ganjar-Mahfud presidential bid also supported the plan.
Despite having been Jokowi’s chief political vehicle for around two decades, the PDI-P saw its relationship with the President reach a nadir late last year when his son Gibran threw his hat into the ring following a game-changing court ruling that effectively enabled Gibran to contest the election. Gibran is running for vice president on the ticket of the PDI-P’s rival Gerindra Party. (yer/jan)