Despite open recruitment, insiders get jobs at FM

Following an open-call recruitment process, the Foreign Ministry (FM) has decided to give insiders the key positions in the formulation of Indonesian foreign policy toward the Asia-Pacific, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Southeast Asia.

The insiders, Desra Percaya, Muhammad Anshor and Jose Antonio Moravo Tavarez, all veterans in the ministry, were selected following an open recruitment process, the first to be conducted by the ministry.

In conducting the open recruitment, the ministry responded to a call made by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo at the start of his tenure. He wanted qualified potential candidates from outside the respective institutions to compete for top posts in government bodies.

The Foreign Ministry ended up choosing the three senior diplomats after finding that external candidates failed to meet the necessary qualifications for the job, the ministry’s officials said.

Desra, for instance, has built his career in the ministry since 1986 and was assigned to a number of top positions before being selected to head the ministry’s Asia-Pacific and Africa directorate general.

The UK-educated diplomat has been Indonesia’s permanent representative to the United Nations since 2012, after serving in the deputy ambassador position to the UN as well as representing Indonesia to other international organizations headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland including the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Desra said he had undergone a lengthy selection process, which included a competence test and also a psychological and health examination.

“The selection process was thrilling and exhausting, but it was fun,” he told The Jakarta Post. “During the process we were questioned about our role and how we would contribute toward supporting the government’s vision and mission, if we were chosen for the position.”

Desra said the selection process was fair as it involved examiners from outside the ministry. “I saw a serious effort to apply a merit-based system to find the best candidate,” he said.

Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi inaugurated Desra in his new position as the director general last month. Retno had Anshor and Tavarez take the oath of office in late May.

Anshor was named director general for American and European affairs, whereas Tavarez was selected to lead the directorate general for ASEAN cooperation.

Anshor previously served as director of the ministry’s human rights and humanitarian affairs. He has vast experience in the field, including his role in the negotiation of the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination in 2006. He also had a stint at the permanent mission to the UN in Geneva and New York, US.

He joined the ministry in 1987.

Born in Balibo, Timor Leste, Tavarez joined the ministry around the same time as Anshor and served as ambassador to New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga before serving as the director for ASEAN political and security cooperation.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said that there were two external candidates who had backgrounds in academia and public service, but they failed to compete with the career diplomats.

He said that the procedure had been practiced in the ministry for a long time, but it had only recently been applied to senior positions.

“This [open bidding] is part of the ministry’s reform efforts and was started under the tenure of [former] minister Hassan Wirajuda. It has been part of our bureaucratic reform,” Arrmanatha said.

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