The Lure of Nine — SBY’s Possible Veeps
Political Parties Have to Play Their VP Cards Right, Analysts Say
Mega to Pick Running Mate on Saturday
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono seems surrounded by the Number 9 this year — even when it comes to selecting a running mate for the July presidential election. The Democratic Party has a special “Team 9” screening vice presidential candidates for the president, who turned 59 last Sept. 9. Seeking his second term in 2009, Yudhoyono has said he is considering 19 vice presidential candidates.
Below are some candidates — well, the leading nine, by our count — either members of political parties or professionals, most often mentioned:
1. Hidayat Nur Wahid
Born in Central Java Province on April 8, 1960, Hidayat is the speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly, or MPR. The former chairman of the Prosperous Justice Party, or PKS, holds a PhD from the Madinah Islamic University in Saudi Arabia.
PKS has officially declared its support for Yudhoyono and proposed Hidayat as one of the party’s candidates to become vice president. Hidayat is said to meet Yudhoyono’s stated requirement that his No. 2 have a low-profile and a clean reputation.
2. Hatta Radjasa
The businessman-turned-politician was born in Palembang, South Sumatra Province, on Dec. 18, 1953. A graduate of the Bandung Institute of Technology, Hata started his political career when he joined the National Mandate Party, or PAN, in 1998. He chaired the PAN faction in the House of Representatives in 1999, and served in former President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s administration. In 2004, Yudhoyono named him Transportation Minister and later moved him to State Secretary in 2007.
Hatta is seen to be deeply loyal, a key political advisor and a close confidant of the president.
3. Akbar Tandjung
Akbar remains charismatic although he no longer holds any position in the Golkar Party. Born in Sibolga, North Sumatra Province, on Aug. 14, 1945, he served in a ministerial post for 10 years under former President Suharto before becoming the speaker of the House of Representatives in 1999. He was elected Golkar chairman in 1998.
Despite a brush with a scandal involving the state logistics agency Bulog in 2002 that cost him a lot of political ground, he retains support from Golkar’s district-level branches, and some Democratic Party executives. He is leading a Golkar faction opposed to Golkar chairman and Vice President Jusuf Kalla’s bid to run for president under the Golkar banner. Akbar has declared his availability for the vice presidency slot under Yudhoyono.
4. Dorodjatun Kuntjoto-Jakti
Dorodjatun served as coordinating minister for the economy when Yudhoyono was coordinating minister for security affairs in Megawati Sukarnoputri’s cabinet from 2001 to 2004.
Apart from Dorodjatun’s low profile, Yudhoyono is said to admire him for his professionalism and experience in handling economic affairs. Muladi, a Golkar Party leader who is supporting Yudhoyono, said that Dorodjatun, now a professor at the University of Indonesia School of Economics, would be able to help Indonesia face the global financial crisis. Born in 1939 in Banten Province, Dorodjatun has a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.
5. Sri Mulyani Indrawati
Finance Minister Sri Mulyani is another University of Indonesia economist who is said to be on Yudhoyono’s list. Joining the cabinet in 2004 as head of the National Development Planning Board, she was later moved to finance.
Born in Lampung Province in 1962, she once worked with the IMF and has gone on to gain both local and international recognition. Both Euromoney and The Banker magazines named her Finance Minister of the Year in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Forbes Magazine last year called her the 23rd Most Influential Woman in the World. She is considered a long shot because of her young age and lack of political backing but her reformist credentials have been embraced by like-minded supporters.
6. Chairul Tanjung
A 47-year old dentist-turned-entrepreneur, Chairul is the chairman and founder of the privately held Para Group, which has extensive holdings in finance and founded TransTV. He is known to be close to Yudhoyono and has joined the president’s official foreign trips several times.
A senior member of PKS, Zulkieflimansyah, has said that Chairul would be a perfect partner for Yudhoyono.
7. Aburizal Bakrie
Currently the coordinating minister for people’s welfare, Aburizal is a wealthy entrepreneur who gave up his position in the powerful Bakrie Group when he joined the cabinet. He has a close relationship with Kalla, who once thanked him for supporting the Yudhoyono-Kalla ticket in 2004. Analysts say his bid is tarnished by the Bakrie Group’s interest in Lapindo, the firm linked to the East Java mud flow disaster.
8. Jimly Asshidiqie
The former Constitutional Court chairman, Jimly has been mentioned as a possible running mate. Hailing from Palembang, Jimly is known as a low-profile, clean national figure who has an extensive constitutional law background. He was also an adviser to former President B.J. Habibie.
9. Siti Fadilah Supari
The outspoken current health minister has been in Yudhoyono’s cabinet since 2004. While she was endorsed by former Muhammadiyah chairman Ahmad Syafi’i Ma’arif, Siti is also known for her network among other Islamic organizations.
Born in Surakarta, Siti is said to have an eye on the vice presidency, and Yudhoyono reportedly views her as a courageous minister.