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Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is the sixth President of the Republic of Indonesia, and also the country’s first directly elected President. President Yudhoyono has assumed a number of self-transformation: from student to soldier, soldier to reformist general, four-star general to Cabinet Minister, Minister to Politician, and politician to President.

General TNI (Ret) Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, popularly known as SBY, was born in Pacitan, East Java, on 9 September 1949. He graduated from the Military Academy in 1973-top in his class. He received his fourth star in 2000. Upon retiring from the military, Yudhoyono was appointed chief minister for security in the governments of Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Sukarnoputri. He was dismissed from the Wahid government after he refused to back emergency measures to prevent Mr. Wahid's impeachment. And he left the Megawati government after being publicly insulted for complaining about being excluded from the president's inner circle. These setbacks, however, helped Mr. Yudhoyono build a strong candidacy as a new voice that would provide strong but fair leadership.

In the first-ever direct presidential election in Indonesia in 2004, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, running on a platform for "more just, more peaceful, more prosperous, and more democratic Indonesia", was elected as the 6th President of the Republic of Indonesia, gaining a landslide 60% of the popular vote over the incumbent President Megawati Soekarnoputri. He won again in July 2009 to become the first Indonesian leader to be democratically re-elected.

Although President Yudhoyono won a landslide re-election victory in 2009 with more than 60 percent of the vote, his Democratic party only controlled 25 percent of the seats in parliament. To gain a working majority there, the president had to invite his rival parties to join a grand coalition and awarded cabinet positions to opposing party officials. Yudhoyono's announcement of his new Cabinet caused little stir in Indonesia. Business leaders praised his decision to retain economic ministers from his first administration, including Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu. The appointment, for the first time, of a civilian head of the armed forces was also noted.

Yudhoyono could have picked more experts to head his ministries. Of the 37 names, just more than half were career politicians. Yudhoyono formed a rainbow coalition, appealing to political parties by granting them Cabinet positions and undermining the potential for an effective opposition. By gathering all the political parties to join the Cabinet then the president will be very powerful.

Yudhoyono's sagging approval poll numbers fell from 60 percent in 2009 to 47 percent in 2011. High profile corruption scandals like one involving Muhammad Nazaruddin, a former Democratic party treasurer who is alleged to have stolen more than $352 million, weakened his administration. In October 2011 Yudhoyono announced major changes to his cabinet. Analysts said the long-anticipated cabinet reshuffle was a move to solidify political support and to boost the president's sagging approval rating.

The new cabinet still included members of other parties. The Golkar party, which holds significant power in the house of representative, retains three cabinet positions. But the new heads of the strategically important ministries of State Owned Enterprises, Energy, Trade, Law and Human Rights all come from the president's Democratic party. Despite the cabinet changes, political observers expect political gridlock will continue to stifle major legislative initiatives.

Yudhoyono served with distinction in the military and rose to the rank of lieutenant general, but he was never included in the inner circle of high-ranking commanders and received his fourth star only upon retirement. Yudhoyono was always the man in the background, and reinvented himself, particularly on terrorism and on relations with external powers, particularly with Australia. He showed himself to be a much more pragmatic leader than the current administration and previous presidents.

The former officer, known as the thinking general because of his intellectual bent, gained international attention in October 2003 with a speech remembering the victims of the terrorist bombings in Bali. Yudhoyoho condemned the 2002 attacks and promised to deal harshly with terrorists. "Make no mistake, we will hunt them, we will find them. We will bring them to justice. These diabolical men and their friends of evil simply have no place in our society. They belong to our darkest dungeon, locked away deep beneath our children's playgrounds," he said.

Yudhoyono was sometimes criticized as indecisive and too willing to compromise. However, because of these traits he avoided being identified with the abuses leveled at some senior commanders during the military-backed rule of authoritarian former President Suharto. And his charisma and speaking ability endeared him to many Indonesian citizens.

During his 27-year military service, President Yudhoyono took an extensive range of training, education and courses, both in Indonesia and overseas. President Yudhoyono also held numerous important posts and positions as troop and territorial commander, staff officer, trainer and lecturer. He served both in the field and at headquarters, as well as missions overseas. He was the Commander of the United Nations Military Observers and Commander of the Indonesian Military Contingent in Bosnia-Herzegovina from 1995-1996. For his service, Yudhoyono was decorated with 24 medals and awards, including the UNPKF Medal, the Bintang Dharma, the Bintang Mahaputera Adipurna and the Bintang Republik Indonesia Adipurna, the highest national medal for excellent service beyond the calls of duty.

Prior to being elected, President Yudhoyono held various important government positions, including Minister of Mining and Energy and Co-ordinating Minister for Political, Social, and Security Affairs in the National Unity Cabinet under President Abdurrahman Wahid. He again served as Co-ordinating Minister for Political, Social, and Security Affairs in the Gotong Royong Cabinet under President Megawati Soekarnoputri. It was in his capacity as Coordinating Minister that he became internationally recognized for leading Indonesia's counter-terrorism efforts.

Previously-held positions at national and international institutions:

  1. Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs, Cooperation Cabinet, 10/8/2001-12/3/2004 (resigned)
  2. Coordinating Minister for Political, Social, and Security Affairs, National Unity Cabinet, 26/10/2000-1/6/2001 (discharged)
  3. Promoted to General (Four Stars) of the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI), 25 September 2000. Retired from the military service on 10 November 2000.
  4. Minister of Mining and Energy, Abdurrahman Wahid's Cabinet, 20/10/1999-26/8/2000
  5. Chief of the Social and Political Staff of the Indonesian Armed Forces, 16/2/1998- November 1998
  6. Commander of the Sriwijaya II Military Regional Command, 23/8/1996-26/8/1997
  7. Chief of Staff of the Greater Jakarta Military Regional Command, March 1996-August 1996
  8. Chief of the UN Military Watch in Bosnia from the United Nations Peacekeeping Force (UNPF), November 1995-November 1996 C
  9. ommander of Pamungkas 072 Military Resort Command, Yogyakarta, 1994-1995
  10. Operational Assistant of the Greater Jakarta Military Regional Command, 1994
  11. Commander of 17th Infantry Brigade, Kujang I of the Army Strategic Reserves Command, 1993

Yudhoyono is an accomplished scholar. He was educated in the United States, where he received his Masters degree in Management from Webster University in 1991. He continued his study and earned a Doctorate Degree in Agricultural Economics from Bogor Institute of Agriculture, West Java, Indonesia, in 2004. President Yudhoyono was awarded with two honorary doctorates in 2005, respectively in the field of law from his alma mater, Webster University, and in political science from Thammasat University in Thailand.

Yudhoyono has an extensive academic background. While joining the US Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, he completed his Master Degree in Management from Webster University in St. Louis, US in 1991. He completed his Doctorate Degree in Agricultural Economics from Bogor lnstitute of Agriculture in 2004. President Yudhoyono is also a recipient of several international awards. ln 2011, the United Nations named him as the "Global Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction"; in 2010, he received the Gold Standard Award and was named Asia's Top Political Communicator by Public Affairs Asia, based in Hong Kong; and in the same year, he received the "Global Home Tree Award". He was also the recipient of the UNEP Award.

  1. Indonesian Armed Forces Academy (Akabri), 1973
  2. American Language Course, Lackland, Texas, USA, 1976
  3. Airborne and Ranger Course, Fort Benning, USA, 1976
  4. Infantry Officer Advanced Course, Fort Benning, USA, 1982-1983
  5. On the job training at the 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, USA, 1983
  6. Jungle Warfare School, Panama, 1983
  7. Antitank Weapon Course di Belgia dan Jerman 1984
  8. Battalion Command Course, 1985
  9. Indonesian Army Command School, 1988-1989
  10. Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA
  11. Master of Arts (MA) from Management Webster University, Missouri, USA
  12. Doctorate (Dr.), Bogor Institute of Agriculture, Indonesia, 2004

Yudhoyono is known for his activities in various civil society organizations. He served as Co-Chairman of the Governing Board of the Partnership for the Governance Reform, a joint Indonesian-international organization focused on the improvement of governance in Indonesia. He also served as Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Brighten Institute, an institution devoted to studying the theory and practice of national development policy.

Yudhoyono has authored a number of books and articles including: Transforming Indonesia: Selected International Speeches (2005), Peace deal with Aceh is just a beginning (2005), The Making of a Hero (2005), Revitalization of the Indonesian Economy: Business, Politics and Good Governance (2002), and Coping with the Crisis - Securing the Reform (1999). Taman Kehidupan (Garden of Life) is his anthology published in 2004. Yudhoyono speaks English fluently.

Yudhoyono is said to be a devoted Moslem. He is married to Madam Ani Herrawati. The first couple is blessed with two sons. The oldest is First Lieutenant Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, who graduated top in his class from the Military Academy in 2000 and is now serving at the elite 305th Airborne Battalion of the Army Strategic Reserves Command (KOSTRAD). The youngest, Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono, earned his degree in Economics from Curtin University, Australia.

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