Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono: The Man Behind Indonesia’s Rise

Posted: July 10, 2009 in English Version

Indonesian presidential candidate and incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono holds up his ink-stained finger after voting at a polling station in Cikeas district in Bogor July 8, 2009
Indonesian presidential candidate and incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono holds up his ink-stained finger after voting at a polling station in Cikeas district in Bogor, July 8, 2009
Beawiharta / Reuters
On July 8, voters on the more than 17,000 islands that make up the vast archipelago nation of Indonesia went to the polls to elect the country’s President. A final count has yet to be completed, but all signs suggest Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the incumbent candidate, notched up a resounding victory. Since winning the country’s first competitive elections in 2004, the former general has been a cool steward of Indonesia’s young and often chaotic democracy, denting the country’s grim legacy of corruption, cracking down on radical Islamist groups and rebuilding a nation that suffered the brunt of 2005’s devastating Indian Ocean tsunami. SBY — Yudhoyono is widely referred to by his initials — is seen as a moderate and honest figure in a nation still emerging from decades of cronyism under the deceased military dictator Suharto. When his triumph is certified, he will become the first President to be re-elected in what is the world’s most populous Muslim democracy.
More Related

* Indonesia Elections: A Win For Democracy
* Suharto: Twilight of the God
* What Indonesia’s President Needs to Do In His Second Term

(Read a TIME article about Indonesia’s election)

Fast Facts:

• Born in 1949 into a lower-middle class military family in eastern Java, Indonesia’s most densely populated island.

• After graduating at the top of his class in the Indonesian national military academy in 1973, he went on to join the army’s top brass, and ultimately served as a military observer for U.N. peacekeeping operations in Bosnia during the mid-1990s.

• First shone politically in 2001, when he stood up to then President Abdurrahman Wahid — who was facing impeachment charges — by refusing an order to declare a state of emergency. For supporters, the act sealed his reputation as a man of integrity.

During his presidency, a lasting peace deal has been negotiated with insurgents in the tsunami-struck province of Aceh. Has also drawn praise for blunting the influence of the Jemaah Islamiyah, an al-Qaeda-linked terrorist organization, with a steady string of arrests and detentions.

In the July 8 election, SBY’s two main opponents fielded running mates who were also prominent generals under Indonesia’s military dictator Suharto. SBY, though, was the only one of the three not being pursued on charges of human-rights abuses.

His choice of Boedino — an astute banker and political newcomer — as his running mate has been hailed as a sign that he intends to cut through some of the bureaucratic red tape that has been a hallmark of Indonesia’s murky politics and has stalled the nation’s growth in the past.

Though considered to be an even-tempered, if not altogether unexciting, politician, he has a stated affection for music and has composed his own love songs. The latest compilation is titled My Longing for You.

Quotes By:
“I love the United States, with all its faults. I consider it my second country.”
(International Herald Tribune, Aug. 8, 2003)

“God willing, in the next five years, the world will say, ‘Indonesia is something, Indonesia is rising.’ ”
— Speaking at a huge election rally in Jakarta. (New York Times, July 4, 2009)

“Today is the people’s day.”
— After casting his vote on July 8. (South China Morning Post)

Quotes About:

“Even though SBY was a senior member of a deeply unpopular government, he has come to be seen as a victim of that government rather than part of it.”
— Denny Ja, an Indonesian political analyst. (BBC, October 20, 2004)

“More of the same.”
— The campaign slogan trumpeted by Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party

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