Sunday, December 13, 2009

SBY in Sri Mulyani vs Bakrie

Some said Lapindo mudflow in Sidoarjo is one of cases which put finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati at odds with Aburizal Bakrie, chairman of Golkar Party. But it was president SBY who issued three decrees which systematically reduced Bakrie Group's financial burden on the endless hot mudflow. Where will be SBY on the recent "war" between the two powerful figures within his own "inner circle"?
When the hot mud outflown for the first time, most government officers promised public that "all the associated costs will be handled by Bakrie Family" only to see three presidential decrees issued by SBY substantially lifted the costs from Bakrie's shoulders. The last decree issued in September 2009. Some said Sri Mulyani lost the "war within the inner circle" in Lapindo issue as other cabinet members rallied behind SBY in the "decisions" to help Bakrie.
They were reportedly at odds on the collapse of Bakrie-related stocks. Bakrie reportedly asked for trading suspension on IDX, Sri Mulyani rejected. But we know for sure that the stocks have finally been suspended for two weeks or so. The stocks have recovered significantly this year. There were "orders" to "help" Bakrie stocks.
They were also at odds on the divestment of 14% shares in PT Newmont Nusa Tenggara (NNT). Sri Mulyani once scored a win in this issue when she managed to get "cabinet approval" to have the State acquires 14% shares. But that was a brief victory before the new cabinet established in October 2009. Sri Mulyani lost her "power" as "ad interim coordinating minister for the economy" to Hatta Radjasa, one of few powerful persons around SBY in the new cabinet selection.
We know that Bakrie finally won the 14% shares, despite last minute maneuvers to push Aneka Tambang acquire the shares. Bakrie Group had paid 10% shares in NNT for US$391 million. Few days ago, Bakrie and its partner, local administrations of West Nusa Tenggara (NNT), paid 7% shares in NNT, and will pay another 7% soon. Combined, Bakrie won 24% shares in NNT.
Without substantial support from people above Sri Mulyani or at least gave no opposition to Bakrie, it's difficult to imagine how Sri Mulyani would have lost to Bakrie in this Newmont divestment.
So, Bakrie won in three major issues. One may say, well, Aburizal was a cabinet member and that then VP Kalla contributed at some point. But most people forget that it was SBY the real "saviour" for Bakrie even though his decisions might be against people's sense of justice. 
The fact that SBY opted to "help" Bakrie may raise question, will SBY do the same in the current "war" between Bakrie and Sri Mulyani?
Both Bakrie and Sri Mulyani were and are still the "major contributors" for SBY. Sri Mulyani contributed to SBY a "good international image" in his "campaign" for a "clean government". Bakrie contributed to SBY in both 2004 and 2009 presidential elections. Bakrie contributed significantly in 2004 along with Jusuf Kalla which crowned them the Three Musketeers. Bakrie contributed substantially in 2009 election, not only financially, including media network support, but politically. We know that while in public Aburizal expressed his support for Kalla's presidential bid, he, Agung Laksono, and Akbar Tanjung---known as Trio Alpha were big supporters of SBY-Boediono, substantially weakened support for Kalla, including within Golkar Party.
Aburizal Bakrie and Jusuf Kalla are currently out of the cabinet, but Bakrie, by no means, can't be considered an "outsider" for SBY. Bakrie managed to name three of his men as cabinet ministers: Agung Laksono, Fadel Muhammad, and MS Hidayat. Bakrie, as the chairman of Golkar Party, is an "insider" because without Golkar's support in the House of Representatives (DPR), SBY-Boediono's ruling coalition would be weak.
Bakrie has friends in at least two of SBY-Boediono's ruling coalition members: Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and National Mandate Party (PAN).
On the other hand, international business community and some major business groups are rallying behind Sri Mulyani in most issues. They are also contributing factors for SBY's legitimacy. SBY is clearly "caught" in a very delicate situation here. From the current political development, SBY has to make another crucial decision: Bakrie or Sri Mulyani. 
It is not an easy situation like what market players thought. Bashing Bakrie might cost SBY-Boediono's future, i.e. triggering impeachment through the inquiry on Century debacle. It is a risky decision. Bashing Sri Mulyani might cost SBY-Boediono a "loss in market confidence". The less risky decision might be not to pick the winner. But is it politically realistic for SBY-Boediono?
by Haryanto Suharman & Yosef Ardi
taken from

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