After exiling herself abroad to serve as the World Bank’s managing director and chief operating officer in 2010 due to the Century Bank bailout uproar, Sri Mulyani Indrawati has made her comeback to the Indonesian Cabinet as finance minister.
Her return seems to be against all odds, as she was heavily attacked by members of the Indonesian political elite due to the 2008 scandal, which, according to former Democratic Party Anas Urbaningrum, benefited the ruling party at that time.
The Democratic Party found its strongest opponent in the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) during Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s reign. Until now, relations between the two parties has remained strained.
But now, Sri Mulyani’s name has been announced by PDI-P-backed President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, replacing Bambang Permadi Soemantri Brodjonegoro who will now helm the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas).
The 53-year-old woman was born into a well-educated family in Bandar Lampung. Her father Prof. Drs. Satmoko and mother Prof. Dr. Retno Sriningsih are emeritus professors at Semarang National University.
This is her fourth time serving in ministerial offices. In the 2004-2005 period she led Bappenas, before she became finance minister from 2005 to 2010. She was caretaker coordinating economic minister during the 2008-2009 period.
Her departure from the Cabinet in 2010 was preceded by confrontations with politician cum businessman Aburizal Bakrie, who was then Golkar Party chairman. She refused to declare that Bakrie’s Lapindo oil-rig mudflow was a natural disaster nor allocate funds from the state budget for compensation to residents of the affected areas in 2006.
In October 2008, she tried to revoke the stock suspension of Bakrie-owned coal giant Bumi Resources on the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX). Before the suspension, the company’s share price nose-dived more than 85 percent in just three months.
In the new politically “accommodative” cabinet, which includes Golkar party figure Airlangga Hartarto as the new industry minister, the tax amnesty program is Sri Mulyani’s first important task, where she must, once again, put herself between businesspeople and the state’s interests.