INDONESIA – Ministry apologizes for appointing Muslim as acting Catholic affairs director-general

The Jakarta Post | February 11, 2020

A bureaucratic blunder caused the Religious Affairs Ministry to appoint a Muslim official as acting head of the Catholic Community Guidance Directorate General, a move that drew online and offline criticism.

Ministry secretary-general Nur Kholis Setiawan took the blame for the gaffe, saying he had given mistaken advice to the ministry’s top brass.

“I apologize for this oversight,” Nur Kholis said in an official ministry press release on Monday night, adding that the ministry would soon appoint a new acting director-general from within the Catholic unit.

Nur himself had been appointed to the role in January, replacing another Muslim official, Muhammadiyah Amin, who had filled the position since the previous director-general Eusabius Binsasi, who was Catholic, retired last July.

Minister Fachrul Razi and Deputy Minister Zainut Tauhid Sa’adi had previously defended both appointments, saying that National Civil Service Agency (BKN) regulations prevented the ministry from putting a Catholic in the position.

However, it turned out the problem was of their own making, stemming from a misreading of a 2019 BKN circular that states civil servants can only be appointed as acting officials in positions “at the same level or one level above” the ones they held.