Within a month of becoming Minister of Commerce, Zulkifli Hassan received some public reprimands from President Joko Widodo after he offered cooking oil to the public on one occasion in exchange for their promise that they would vote for his daughter.
Last Saturday, Zulkifli attended an event hosted by his PAN (Party of National Mandate) in Lampung. A video clip from the event showed him distributing subsidized cooking oil to the ladies present. During a speech that followed, Zulkifli demanded that he attend and vote for his daughter, Votri Zulia Savitri, in the 2024 legislative elections.
“For IDR 10,000 ($0.67) you can have 2 liters [of the cooking oil]. Did you bring IDR 10,000? Keep it in your pocket, it’s all on my bill, Zulkifli said.
“But later you will vote for Vautrey, okay? If you do, we will organize an event like this every two months.”
Jokowi, who was on an official trip to West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), gave a verbal warning to the new Commerce Minister yesterday.
I ask all of my ministers to focus on their jobs. As for the Minister of Commerce, I ask him to prioritize the task I assigned him the day before, “Jokowi reporters.
“[He should be concerned with] How to lower the retail price of cooking oil to IDR 14,000 (US$0.93) per liter, or even less.”
The use of free cooking oil to win votes certainly did not sit well with Indonesians, after the country saw a sharp rise in the prices of basic commodities this year amid a shortage of supplies.
Today, the retail price of a liter of cooking oil varies from 20,000 to 30,000 IDR (US$1.34-2).
Jokowi made clear when Zalqafi was appointed Minister of Trade on June 15, succeeding Muhammad Lutfi, that controlling the price of cooking oil would be his top priority.
Zulkali may be better known outside the country as the Indonesian politician who was receiving some strong criticism from Harrison Ford AKA Indiana Jones himself in 2013. At the time, Zulkifli, who was the forestry minister, seemed confused when Ford pressured him about massive deforestation. Illegal in Sumatra for the last documentary.