Maj Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono
By The Jakarta Post
Asia News Network
The surprise decision by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to nominate his eldest son, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, for the Jakarta gubernatorial election has been seen as the former general’s attempt to groom a political heir within his Democratic P
The 38-year-old major has filed his resignation from the military to pave the way for his political bid in Jakarta, which was only revealed on the day the deadline for registration at the Jakarta General Elections Commission (KPUD) fell.
Agus will run with Sylviana Murni, the Jakarta governor’s assistant for tourism.
Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo confirmed on Friday that Agus had submitted his resignation letter. It is a one-way ticket: After quitting, he will not be able to come back to the military, whether he wins or loses the election, as stipulated by Law No. 34/2004 on the TNI.
“He has submitted the resignation. He has been permitted to continue his career in politics because he has been in the military for 16 years, meaning he has completed his first 10-year contract,” Gatot said.
Yudhoyono’s decision has baffled many, not only because Agus was believed to have had a stellar career in the military, but also because the former president has himself previously spoken against military personnel using their military careers as a stepping stone to becoming regional leaders. Military personnel, he once said, should aim to become generals, or air marshals or admirals.
But Yudhoyono seems to have been forced into pulling Agus into the world of politics, with his party facing a leadership crisis following a series of graft scandals implicating many of the party’s young and promising members, including former party chairman Anas Urbaningrum and Andi Mallarangeng, who were both imprisoned for their roles in the Hambalang graft case.
Dems leaders have placed high hopes on Agus. Party deputy chairman Syarif Hasan said Agus had a good educational background and leadership capability. When asked about Agus’ lack of political experience, he said Agus still had five months before voting day to introduce himself to the public.
“His battalion trusts him, meaning that he has brilliant leadership capability. That’s what makes us sure that he is the candidate Jakartans hope for [...] and of course, Yudhoyono wants his son to have a career that will make his family proud,” Syarif said.
But many believe Agus’ nomination is bigger than the Jakarta election. “By endorsing Agus to run in the [Jakarta] election, SBY is attempting to introduce Agus into the country’s political arena as soon as possible,” Dimas Oky Nugroho of the Jakarta-based Akar Rumput Strategic Consulting (ARSC) firm said.
Dimas predicted that in addition to carrying out regeneration in the party, the Dems were also aiming to win over first-time and swing voters in the upcoming election. “Even if Agus loses the gubernatorial race, he has started his career in the Democratic Party as well as in politics,” he emphasized.
Another analyst, M. Qodari of Indo Barometer, said that Yudhoyono aimed to retain his influence within his party by preparing Agus as his successor. “The Democratic Party is SBY. SBY is the Democratic Party,” Qodari said, referring to Yudhoyono’s popular moniker.
Qodari argued that even if Agus lost the Jakarta election, he would potentially be a strong contender for the 2019 presidential election as a result of his father’s clout.