Since its formation in 2014, the administration of Indonesian President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”) has faced opportunities and challenges in many sectors and on many issues: security and economy, terrorism and radicalism, maritime resources and incursions, not to mention foreign-policy dynamics with the US, China, and the rest of Southeast Asia. How has Indonesia responded to these chances and concerns? How will it manage them going forward? Few Indonesians are better equipped to address these questions than retired Brig. Gen. Pandjaitan, who has dealt with them daily since joining Jokowi’s administration in 2014 as the president’s chief of staff and in subsequent cabinet positions.
Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan began his current ministership in July 2016 after serving as Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs in 2015-16. Earlier civilian positions include vice-chair of the Golkar Party’s advisory council (2008-2014); founding president of a resources company (2004-2014); trade and industry minister (2000-01); and ambassador to Singapore (1999-2000). His Indonesian army service dates back in time from an assignment as training and education commander (1997-99) through a series of leadership positions to his award as the best graduate of the army academy (1970). Other honors include Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year (2011) and a national best coaching award related to his work on behalf of karate in Indonesia (2001-2010). In 1990-91 he studied in Washington DC at the National Defense University and George Washington University, earning an MPA from GWU (1991), and he is an alumnus of the Indonesia Army Staff College (1983).