Indonesian President Joko Widodo picked an anti-corruption activist as his new chief of staff, after facing criticism over a faltering campaign against graft.
Teten Masduki, a spokesman for the presidential office and a former secretary general of Transparency International’s Indonesian branch, replaces Luhut Panjaitan in the role, an official at the state secretary ministry said on Wednesday. Masduki, 52, told reporters he only learned of the appointment less than an hour before his inauguration.
Widodo, known as Jokowi, vowed last month to strengthen government institutions to better tackle weak law enforcement. Tensions between the country’s anti-graft agency and the police have overshadowed the president’s first 10 months in office and have contributed to his falling popularity.
“Teten has an advantage in that he has legal experience” to deal with Jokowi’s weak score on managing cooperation between the police and anti-graft agency, said Yunarto Wijaya, a political analyst at consultancy Charta Politika Indonesia.
Jokowi has been caught in a tug of war between factions in his inner circle and needs a loyal chief of staff, said Wijaya. Giving the job to Masduki, who is close to Jokowi’s political party chief Megawati Soekarnoputri, means he may be able to act as a political bridge, Wijaya said.
Indonesia ranked 107th on a list of countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2014. Masduki is potentially a positive influence on Jokowi, though anti-graft campaigners are “very depressed” about the president’s performance, Ade Irawan, a head of non-governmental organization Indonesia Corruption Watch, said before the appointment.