We talked about the strategic importance of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, the Defense Ministry, and the Home Affairs Ministry as the Triumvirate that will assume the presidency as a unit, in the event that both the president and the vice president of the republic cannot serve their duty. We also talked about the names of the potential Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Foreign Affairs candidates to serve under Joko “Jokowi” Widodo. Today, let’s talk about potential Minister of Defense.

Andi Widjajanto, one of Jokowi’s aides, has been tipped as a potential candidate for becoming the next Defense Minister. We’ve profiled Andi in our previous article about Jokowi’s transition team. Andi now serves as one of the deputies at Jokowi’s Transition office. We’ve also talked about his chance for becoming Jokowi’s cabinet member.

Some say that Andi Widjajanto is still too young for the position of Defense Minister. But others have also noticed his capacities and acknowledged his experience in helping the reform within the military and the country’s defense sector. Furthermore, Andi has a close relationship with the military. The same quality of relationship he too share with PDI-P, including with the party’s chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri.

Andi, as you may already know, is the son of PDI-P senior politician the late Maj. Gen. (ret) Theo Syafei, who once served as Megawati’s adviser. But as we’ve said in our previous article, Andi might face strong rejection and challenge from a group of retired military generals in Jokowi’s inner circle who have also eyed for the position.

Coincidentally, Maj. Gen. (ret) TB Hasanuddin and Gen. (ret) Ryamizard Ryacudu, two of the retired military generals in Jokowi’s inner circle, have also been tipped as candidates for the position of Defense Minister. Hasanuddin is a PDI-P politician who now serves as Deputy Head of the House Commission I (overseeing defense and foreign affairs) and PDI-P Chairman of West Java chapter. The former Army Chief of Staff (KSAD) Ryamizard, meanwhile, is one of Megawati’s aides. He was once tipped as Jokowi’s potential running mate.

And apart from Andi Widjajanto, TB Hasanuddin and Ryamizard Ryacudu, there is also Lt. Gen. (ret) Sjafrie Sjamsuddin whose name has been widely tipped as the a potential Minister of Defense. Sjafrie is the current Vice Minister of Defense. He’s indeed an interesting candidate to talk about given that Sjafrie has served the Ministry of Defense for a while now. Prior to being made Vice Minister of Defense, he was the longtime Secretary General of the Ministry.

That being said, there is an interesting trivia to mention. For the last thirteen years, through the last four administrations, the position of the Defense Minister has always been held by a civilian. It was the late President Abdurrahman Wahid (otherwise known as Gus Dur) who began the tradition of appointing a civilian for the position. So, should Jokowi follow this tradition, a civilian candidate like Andi Widjajanto might be the frontrunner for becoming the next Defense Minister.

By Haryanto Suharman

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