Former Indonesian President's son launches think tank

JAKARTA (The Straits Times/ANN) - Indonesia's former president's son has launched a new think-tank, a move observers say reinforces the family's political ambitions.

The son of Indonesia's former president Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has launched a new think-tank, a move observers say reinforces the family's political ambitions.

Speaking at the launch of The Yudhoyono Institute on Thursday night (Aug 10), former army major Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono said the organisation is aimed at developing young people, as well as ideas and solutions to lead the country into a golden era by 2045.

He added that its research will centre on three key pillars - liberty, prosperity and security - of Indonesia.

"These three are very relevant to the vision of Indonesia 2045, hence we must prepare a superior generation of people who will lead Indonesia into its golden days," said Mr Agus,39.

Mr Agus has been widely tipped to be a possible candidate for the presidential election in 2019, running under the ticket of the Democratic Party, which is chaired by his father and Indonesia's sixth president, Dr Yudhoyono, better known by his initials SBY.

Voxpol Center executive director Pangi Syarwi Chaniago sees the establishment of the new body bearing the Yudhoyono name as part of a wider strategy to lay the groundwork for Mr Agus's bid for the presidency in 2019.
"The Yudhoyono Institute can also be a think-tank for the Democrat Party in formulating issues of national interests," he told Kompas news.

The event on Thursday night was attended by Jakarta governor-designate Anies Baswedan, his deputy Sandiaga Uno, daughters of former Indonesian presidents Yenny Wahid and Rachmawati Soekarnoputri, as well as former deputy foreign minister Dino Patti Djalal.

Mr Agus, who had an unsuccessful run during the Jakarta gubernatorial election earlier this year, will head the institute as executive director.

Before officiating the launch of The Yudhoyono Institute on Thursday, he also visited President Joko Widodo at the Istana, where he met with Mr Joko and his eldest son Gibran Rakabuming Raka.

Mr Agus said he was there to "seek the blessings" of Mr Joko to establish the institute.

The two "First Sons" later met the press where they spoke about the role of Indonesian youth in politics.

"The President has placed high hopes on young people to build up our human resources and to be successful in competing with players in other countries during this 21st century, all young people should unite," Mr Agus said.

Two weeks ago, Mr Agus was present when Dr Yudhoyono met opposition leader Prabowo Subianto at their home in Cikeas, West Java.

There was widespread speculation that the meeting, initiated by Mr Prabowo, was for them to discuss a possible alliance for the 2019 presidential election.

Dr Yudhoyono, however, brushed aside any such rumours when he addressed reporters after the meeting.

Mr Agus also said he has been travelling across the country, where he is often asked about the meaning of patriotism.

"For some people, bearing arms is patriotic; then why did I leave the military?" he said during his speech. "But most young people appreciate and see my choice as a bold move, as I had to crawl back from zero to serve the country (but) in life we should not be afraid of struggles, we should not fear failure, and we should not give up ... whatever is done to defend the country and the name of the nation is patriotism."

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