CNBC Insight The Story of 14 Soeharto's Economic Ministers Resigning from the Entrepreneurial Congregation – 16 hours ago

Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – Senior economist Faisal Basri admitted that he heard the news that Sri Mulyani Indrawati was morally ready to resign from her position as Minister of Finance in President Joko Widodo's government.

“Morally, I heard that Mrs. Sri Mulyani is most ready to step down,” said Faisal at the Political Economic Outlook event held by PROGRESIF, as quoted on Tuesday (16/1/2024).

Apart from Sri Mulyani, Faisal said that Basuki Hadimuljono was also ready to leave the position of Minister of Public Works and Public Housing (PUPR). Apart from that, there were several other ministers whose names he did not mention.

Faisal revealed that the ministers who were ready to resign were waiting for the right moment to resign. According to him, the minister's resignation process also occurred during the era of President Soeharto's government.

“Hopefully this momentum will soon, God willing, become a powerful trigger, like Pak Ginandjar and 12 other ministers resigned during Pak Harto's era,” said Faisal.

Faisal's statement regarding the resignation of ministers in the Soeharto era is true. In fact, it was a mass resignation of ministers that succeeded in changing the process of Indonesian history.

14 economic ministers resigned

This story happened on May 20 1998. At that time, the Coordinating Minister for Economic, Financial and Industrial Affairs (Menko Ekuin) Ginandjar Kartasasmita chaired a meeting of economic affairs ministers at the Bappenas building, Jakarta.

In Managing Indonesia's Transformation (2013), Ginandjar said that the meeting was held after he met a number of ministers, journalists and business people on the morning of May 20 1998. All of them talked about the chaotic condition of Indonesia, hit by an economic and political crisis that did not know when it would end.

The topic of discussion in the morning was a hot discussion at Bappenas with the economic ministers. Of all the economic ministers, only three ministers were not present. They are Minister of Environment Juwono Sudarsono, Minister of Industry and Trade Bob Hasan, and Minister of Finance Fuad Bawazier.

While leading the meeting, Ginandjar spoke about Indonesia's economic situation. In short, the current economic conditions if left unchecked will cause Indonesia to collapse. This statement was agreed by almost all ministers, except Ary Mardjono (Minister of State for Agrarian Affairs/Head of BPN).

Moving on from here, Ginandjar said he wanted to resign from his ministerial position in the VII Development Cabinet which had just been formed by Soeharto four days earlier, on March 16 1998.

Unexpectedly, Ginandjar's intentions were also welcomed in the same way by other ministers. As a result, the 14 ministers present agreed to withdraw from the VII Development Cabinet. They are:

  1. Akbar Tandjung (State Minister for Public Housing)
  2. AM Hendropriyono (Minister of Transmigration & Forest Encroachment Settlements)
  3. Giri Suseno Hadihardjono (Minister of Transportation)
  4. Haryanto Dhanutirto (Minister of State for Food & Horticulture)
  5. Ginandjar Kartasasmita (Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs)
  6. Kuntoro Mangkusubroto (Minister of Mines & Energy)
  7. Justika Baharsjah (Minister of Agriculture)
  8. Rachmadil Bambang Sumadhijo (Minister of Public Works)
  9. Rahardi Ramelan (Minister of Research & Technology)
  10. Subiakto Tjarawerdaya (Minister of Cooperatives & Small Entrepreneurs)
  11. Sanyoto Sastrowardoyo (State Minister for Investment/Head of BKPM)
  12. Sumahadi (Minister of Forestry & Plantations)
  13. Theo L. Sambuaga (Minister of Manpower)
  14. Tanri Abeng (Minister of State for Utilization of BUMN)

In a statement letter, the 14 ministers also said that forming a new cabinet would not solve the problem.

So, what was Suharto's attitude when his ministers resigned? Soeharto's biographer, Robert Edward Elson in Suharto: A Political Biography (2017) said that Suharto was very shocked and devastated.

The reason is, this action is outside the scenario that has been designed. Previously, Suharto had a scenario of forming a Reform Cabinet and announced it on May 21 1998. However, what fate said differently.

Vice President Habibie in Decisive Seconds (2006) said that he had asked the ministers not to resign. However, they remained unmoved.

Suharto, who was no longer trusted by ministers and MPR officials, finally decided to resign the next day.

[Gambas:Video CNBC]

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