Yudhoyono's son to run party's polls campaign

Mr Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono in a photo with his parents. Former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is in Singapore where his wife, Ms Ani Yudhoyono, is being treated for leukaemia.
Mr Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono in a photo with his parents. Former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is in Singapore where his wife, Ms Ani Yudhoyono, is being treated for leukaemia.PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/ AGUSYUDHOYONO

Agus gets down to business directing Democratic Party efforts in April 17 elections

The eldest son of Indonesia's former president and Democratic Party chairman Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has taken charge of the party's campaign efforts ahead of the April 17 general elections.

Mr Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, 40, who was once widely touted as a possible candidate for the upcoming presidential polls, took over the role from his father who is in Singapore, where former first lady Ani Yudhoyono is being treated for leukaemia, a party official told The Straits Times yesterday.

"Other party machineries have also been directed to mobilise to meet the target of garnering 15 per cent of the seats in Parliament," said party spokesman Imelda Sari.

Mr Agus, who is chairman of the party's joint task force for the 2019 elections, will be assisted by Upper House members Nachrowi Ramli in the western region, and Mr Soekarwo in the east.

He swiftly got down to business, delivering a speech last night outlining some of his party's priorities in the 2019 election.

A Democratic Party executive told The Jakarta Post that Mr Agus' duties, now that he is at the helm of the party's national campaign efforts, will be similar to the chairman's. He will have the power to give instructions to party cadres and will take over his father's activities in the field.

The source added that Dr Yudhoyono, who will be chairman till 2020, was not in a hurry to hand over the party chairmanship and wanted to be careful about handing over the post to avoid an internal split.

Mr Agus left the military after 16 years to contest the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election. He lost that fight to Mr Anies Baswedan but remains a prominent figure in the political scene, with many seeing him as Dr Yudhoyono's successor.

Mr Agus was tipped to be a top vice-presidential pick for the upcoming polls. But incumbent Joko Widodo decided to run with cleric Ma'ruf Amin while retired army general Prabowo Subianto picked former businessman Sandiaga Uno.

Noting that costs of living, and worries over job opportunities have been key concerns for citizens across the archipelago, Mr Agus in his speech last night laid out some of his party's recommendations for the future president.

The list includes creating a more conducive business environment by relaxing taxes, setting up more incubation hubs for start-ups, and continuing with and enhancing pro-citizen programmes from Dr Yudhoyono's time as president, such as a rice subsidy initiative, Rice for the Poor.

In a letter to party cadres on Wednesday, Dr Yudhoyono was upbeat about efforts to win its targeted votes. Mr Agus, Mr Nachrowi and Mr Soekarwo are strong and qualified leaders who will be able to spearhead campaigns across the country, the former president said.

Dr Yudhoyono also advised his party to play an active role in ensuring the elections take place in a peaceful, democratic and fair manner, noting that the polls have seen greater polarisation.

This is particularly so in the presidential race where Mr Joko will face off against Mr Prabowo in a tight rematch of the 2014 race, which was marred by smear campaigns.

"Elections are hard, but they should not cause disunity and disintegration," said Dr Yudhoyono.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 02, 2019, with the headline 'Yudhoyono's son to run party's polls campaign'. Print Edition | Subscribe