Susi Pudjiastuti : I’m sure that I don’t have to stay longer at the ministry

JAKARTA. Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, who has been proclaimed by several surveys as the most popular minister in President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s Cabinet, has signaled once again that she may soon resign.

“Today, I’m very happy. This ministry’s secretary-general and directors general have all shown extraordinary enthusiasm. I’m sure that I don’t have to stay longer at the ministry. I’ve seen that all ministry staff have spirit and integrity. That’s the most important foundation,” Susi said during a celebration marking her first year at the helm of the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry, held in Jakarta on Friday.

At the event, which was mostly attended by Susi’s staff members and journalists, the minister expressed her appreciation to her staff for assisting her throughout the year. “I want to express my gratitude to all of the ministry’s employees. You are great people, you can adapt to big changes,” she said.

The minister also asked journalists to raise questions on maritime affairs and fisheries with the ministry’s directors general, and no longer with her.

“The ministry does not only have Susi. Journalists must be willing to talk with and interrupt the directors general, not only me. I will be no longer available for that within the next one or two months. Please ask the directors general,” said Susi, while expressing her thanks to the mass media.

According to the latest survey from the Jakarta-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), 59.4 percent of respondents were satisfied with the way Jokowi’s administration has handled maritime issues. Around 32.8 percent were dissatisfied and the remaining 7.8 percent said that they had no idea about it and/or chose not to answer.

Amid recent speculation on Jokowi’s Cabinet evaluation plan, Susi has explicitly said several times that she is ready to leave office.

Speaking in front of Indonesian Fishermen’s Association (HNSI) members in September, Susi asserted that she would rather leave her position than allow the use of bottom trawling in Indonesia’s fisheries industry.

She highlighted the tremendous catastrophic effects of the style of trawling, which involves big vessels, on the marine ecosystem.

"If we allow the use of 50-kilometer long trawls hauled by two vessels with a capacity of 100-200 gross tonnage, with the bulk lying underneath, the effects would be chilling. If I’m forced to [legalize] that, I will resign from my post," she said in a statement on Sept. 7.

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