Jakarta. President Jokowi “Jokowi” Widodo told new Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Muhammad Ali on Wednesday that the latter holds one of the country’s most important jobs because he’s responsible for the sovereignty and integrity of a vast majority of the national territory.
“Territorial sea accounts for two-thirds of Indonesia’s geographical domain. My message to Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Muhammad Ali who I just swore in today is to concentrate on safeguarding the country’s maritime territorial sovereignty especially in the border and on the furthest islands,” the president tweeted after the inauguration ceremony at the State Palace in Jakarta.
Ali took the helm of the Navy from Yudo Margono, who was recently promoted to the Armed Forces Commander.
Speaking to reporters at the palace, the president said he ordered Ali to modernize the naval defense system.
“[The Navy chief] is also responsible for safeguarding our islands on the border -- that should be a focal point,” Jokowi said.
When asked by the press if there was any particular instruction concerning the South China Sea, Jokowi replied: “As I said before, [the Navy chief is in charge of safeguarding] our borders, particularly maritime borders.”
Muhammad Ali also commented on his to-do list as the new Navy chief.
“So it is not just the South China Sea. The president has made it clear that we have to uphold our sovereignty and strengthen law enforcement across all of our maritime borders. And I do believe it is relatively safer now [in the seas], compared to years ago,” Ali said.
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On naval prowess, Ali said the president had instructed him to develop the domestic naval industry, including locally-made warships. Ali claimed that 70 percent of the Navy’s defense system, especially its warships, are built in the country.
The 1989 Navy Academy graduate said his immediate task is to increase vigilance of December's bad weather and smuggling activities across the archipelago that the Navy has to keep an eye on.
“The president gave instructions to prevent and combat smuggling or any other illegal activities in the seas,” Ali said.
Born in Bandung on April 9, 1967, Ali came to the inner circle of the government when he served as the adjutant to Vice President Boediono in 2009-14.
He also served as the Navy Academy Governor from 2018 to 2019.