Former teacher now social minister

Idrus Marham
Idrus Marham

Golkar Party secretary-general Idrus Marham started working life as a school teacher in his hometown in Pinrang, South Sulawesi.

By 21, the active youth leader was lecturing at the prestigious Attahiriyah Islamic University in Jakarta. His knowledge of religious studies and solid organisational skills caught the eye of Golkar leaders, who drafted the young academic into its ranks in 1997.

In just two years, after the fall of strongman president Suharto and the opening up of Indonesia's political system, Mr Idrus would make his way to Parliament. He represented a district in South Sulawesi, and was re-elected twice, in 2004 and 2009.

He also completed a doctorate in political science.

He resigned as a lawmaker in 2011 after he was appointed secretary-general by his mentor and then Golkar chairman Aburizal Bakrie.

Mr Idrus, now 55, would be the first secretary-general of the party not to have come from the Indonesian military.

His rise up the ranks in Golkar was down to the close relationships he managed to establish with key players in Indonesia's political elite.

  • IDRUS MARHAM, 55

  • Former appointment: Golkar Party secretary-general

    Appointed as: Social Affairs Minister

    Married

Besides Mr Bakrie, he was also close to former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and current Vice-President Jusuf Kalla - both of whom were witnesses at his wedding to former MetroTV presenter Ridho Ekasari in 2009.

During the 2014 presidential election, Mr Idrus was an official in the campaign to elect Gerindra Party chief and former general Prabowo Subianto.

That was before Golkar - which holds 16 per cent or 91 of the 560 seats in Parliament, making it the second largest party today - joined the ruling coalition backing President Joko Widodo in January 2016.

Francis Chan

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2018, with the headline 'Former teacher now social minister'. Print Edition | Subscribe