Energy and Mineral Resources (EMR) Minister Arcandra Tahar is still working as scheduled despite being caught up rumours about his United States (US) citizenship. He refused to provide the public with an explanation about this.
On Monday (15/8) morning, Arcandra held a meeting with the Supervisory Committee for the Special Task Force for Upstream Oil and Gas Business Activities (SKK Migas) at the EMR Ministry’s offices in Jakarta. The meeting was scheduled to start at 7.00 a.m. local time. (Read: Arcandra to Hold Meeting with SKK Migas Supervisors, Might Lead to Amien’s Removal)
After the meeting, Arcandra refused to answer questions posed by journalists concerning the status of his American citizenship, which he received in 2012. “I have a meeting. Hold on,” he said.
He was also unwilling to answer questions about rumours that he has an American passport. “Later,” he said in passing. After the meeting with the SKK Migas Supervisory Committee, Arcandra was scheduled to attend another meeting at the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs concerning upstream gas prices for industries.
Since Saturday (13/8), rumours have been circulating about Arcandra. Some say that he was naturalised as an American citizen in March 2012. Indonesian laws, however, prohibit a foreign citizen from becoming an Indonesian minister. (Read: Minister Arcandra Rumoured to be an American Citizen)
Information gathered by Katadata indicates that this issue was first raised last week when President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo summoned the minister to the Presidential Palace complex on Thursday (11/8). Arcandra also met with the President on Saturday (13/8) morning.
Vice President Jusuf Kalla confirmed that the government is discussing the matter. However, on Sunday (14/8), Kompas.com reported that Kalla has asked the public to wait for the government to explain the situation.
Meanwhile, the President refused to clarify these rumours himself. After attending the 10th National Jamboree at Bumi Perkemahan Cibubur in Jakarta on Sunday, Jokowi instructed State Secretary Pratikno to provide the public with an explanation. (Read: Masela Block Dispute, Arcandra’s Way Towards the Cabinet)
Pratikno said Arcandra owns an Indonesian passport. “He entered Indonesia using an Indonesian passport. Arcandra’s Indonesian passport is valid until 2017,” he said. However, Pratikno did not shed any light on Arcandra’s American citizenship, which he received in 2012.
After commemorating Indonesian Independence Day at the EMR Ministry’s offices on Sunday, Arcandra emphasised that he is an Indonesian citizen, not a US citizen.
“I was born and bred in Padang, so was my wife. However, I obtained by master’s and doctorate degrees in the US,” he said, as cited from the EMR Ministry’s official website. “I went to the US in 1996 and I still have a valid Indonesian passport.”