Jakarta governor and deputy governor nominees, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono and Sylviana Murni, undergo a medical check-up on Saturday (24/09). (Antara Photo/Anny)

There's Logic Behind Sacrificing Agus Yudhoyono’s Military Career: Former House Speaker


SEPTEMBER 24, 2016

Jakarta. The House of Representatives’ former speaker Marzuki Alie has defended the decision of Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to pick his own son Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono as a governor nominee in next year's Jakarta gubernatorial election.

Marzuki said SBY, as Susilo is popularly known, has carefully calculated the political risks of Agus's nomination, especially since this means that his career in the military will have to be sacrificed.

"SBY is a strategist. Everyone knows that, including the military," Marzuki said on Friday (23/09).

According to the former lawmaker, SBY and the so-called Cikeas Coalition decided on Agus as their pick after seeing many polls showing a continuous decline in incumbent governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama’s electability rating.

"We've seen more and more anti-Ahok groups, they're massive now and they're everywhere. SBY saw that," he said, adding that some of Ahok's rivals have even resorted to black campaigns against him.

SBY saw this as an opportunity to pass his political power to his son, who he had been grooming as his successor.

"Agus's military career has stalled as he is no longer favored by the current administration," Marzuki said.

He also said that the former president is an expert in public relations, and this latest stunt might be part of his PR game. "Remember, as SBY once said, politics is public relations."

SBY’s strategy for Jakarta governor race

Marzuki, who was once the secretary general of the Democratic Party, said that voters in Jakarta are very fickle, very easy to change their mind. "If a candidate disappoints them, they will switch to another candidate very quickly," he said.

The former House speaker also has good things to say about the deputy governor pick, Jakarta's current tourism and culture chief Sylviana Murni. According to Marzuki, Sylviana has a good track record as a bureaucrat, highly educated and possesses the right experience to help Agus master the problems besetting the capital.

"Sylviana may attract more votes from young, professional and educated women," Marzuki said.

Marzuki believes the Agus-Sylviana duo will at least go through the second round in next year's election, and expects them to win in a head-to-head race against Ahok. SBY's still considerable political clout will have a lot of influence on the outcome of such a race.

"SBY is still a very powerful political figure, close to many ethnic groups and also the conglomerates. Most of these groups have been reluctant to support Ahok," Marzuki said.

Even if Agus lost the gubernatorial race, the worst thing that can happen, according to Marzuki, is that he will be the next leader of the Democratic Party.

"This is a very calculated move by SBY," Marzuki said. "He has made sure neither he nor the party will lose out from this decision."

"Look at it this way, SBY will not sacrifice his son, so to speak. At least not without making very careful calculations beforehand," the senior politician said.