SOEs Minister Sofyan Djalil: Don’t be too suspicious

ACCORDING to State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) Minister, Sofyan Djalil, there is nothing wrong in placing former members of the SBY-JK campaign team as commissioners of state-owned enterprises. What is important, he said, is that they have the capacity to do the job. “There are thousands of members of the campaign team. If we pick one or two among them [to be commissioners], it is because of their competence,” Sofyan told Tempo’s Abdul Manan, who spoke to the Minister last week.

A number of board members and commissioners of SOEs you recently swore in are former members of SBY’s campaign team during the 2004 elections.

Anyone has the right to be a member of the board or a commissioner if they have the competence. We pick candidates from the market. The directors of most SOEs come from banking or securities circles. Among the commissioners, maybe one or two are former members of the campaign team. But they are not there because they are members of the campaign team, but because of their competence.

Aam Sapulete is in PTPN VII and Andi Arif has gone to PT Pos. Were they also selected because of their competence?

Members of the campaign team can become commissioners so long as they fulfill professional standards. Commissioners, who can number three, four or five people, essentially function as monitors. Their composition comprises government officials and professionals. Sometimes, they can be former members of the military or even active military members. They can also be retired or active members of the police force. There are specific considerations for their selection. For example, if the crime rate is high in industrial plantations, we might ask a member of the police force to be a commissioner. So, it’s not by design that members of the campaign team become commissioners. Members of the campaign team number in the thousands. If one or two among them get selected, it’s because of their competence.

Does this include presidential spokesman Dino Patti Djalal, who recently became a commissioner of PT Danareksa?

He is a government official. And Danareksa hopes to have international access. As a PhD in international relations, he is expected to provide some added value to the company. We also placed a former military man inside PT Wijaya Karya. He was a member of the army’s engineering corps, so he should be experienced in the construction of roads, bridges and so on. He happens to be a member of the campaign team, but that’s not why he was selected to be an independent commissioner. To be part of a campaign team is not a sin, but when we look for a commissioner, professional standards must be the top priority.

Did the presidential palace have any say in structuring the commissioners of SOEs?

No. There was no such input. All directors must now undergo a fit-and-proper test. For instance at Bio Farma, I asked the 15 candidates to cite the 10 main problems faced by the company. So, now I know the problems faced by that SOE. And after the commissioner had passed his test and was duly appointed, I told him, “this is your task, this is the priority.”

Some people suspect this is linked to raising funds for the 2009 elections.

No, no. It has nothing to do with that. The oversight is extremely tight. There is the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) and the Finance Development Controller (BPKP). These watchdog institutions do not play around. What can be achieved by placing commissioners [in SOEs]?

Well, they can influence policy.

Don’t be too suspicious. That is unlikely.

Tempo Magazine, No. 08/VIII/October 23-29, 2007


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