Wantimpres candidate turns down presidential invitation

Ahmad Syafii Maarif, one of the country’s renowned pluralists and the former chairman of the second-largest Muslim organization in Indonesia, Muhamadiyah, has rejected a formal offer from President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to become a member of the Presidential Advisory Board (Wantimpres), citing his age as his main concern.

  • renowned – terkenal
  • cite – menyebut, mengutip

“It is just I [don’t consider myself eligible] for the offer. The deputy of the State Palace’s human resources division phoned me yesterday and I said that I am not available for it. I am too old,” said the founder of the pro-pluralism organization, the Maarif Institute, over the weekend.

Maarif did not elaborate on any other reasons that might lie behind his turning down of Jokowi’s offer, although the President has been strongly criticized by anti-graft activists, campaign volunteers and religious leaders for insisting on installing graft suspect Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan as the next National Police chief.

  • elaborate – menguraikan
  • turning down – penolakan

Meanwhile, Hasyim Muzadi, the chairman of the country’s largest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), whose name is believed to be included among the candidates to fill the nine Wantimpres vacancies, said that he had yet to receive any confirmation from the State Palace about his possible appointment.

“I have yet to know about it. No one has talked to me about it yet. This morning I got a call, but I did not pick it up because I was about to get onto a plane. I did not know who made the call,” said Hasyim, who was Megawati Soekarnoputri’s running mate during the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman’s 2004 presidential election campaign.

Earlier on Friday, Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto said that the Wantimpres team would consist of people from the Indonesian Military (TNI), religious and political figures and senior economists.

President Jokowi is slated to inaugurate his Wantimpres picks on Monday. Some names have been circulated in the media of possible figures who are believed will be appointed by Jokowi to be his presidential advisors.

  • slated – dijadwalkan

The list includes three retired TNI generals — former National Intelligence Agency (BIN) chief Gen. (ret) AM Hendropriyono, Gen. (ret) Subagyo HS and Lt. Gen. (ret) Yusuf Kartanegara — as well as politically affiliated figures like former People’s Representative Council (MPR) speaker and PDI-P senior politician Sidarto Danusubroto, United Development Party (PPP) deputy chairman Suharso Monoarfa, co-founder and chief executive of Lion Air, the nation’s largest commercial airline, Rusdi Kirana, who is also deputy chairman of the National Awakening Party (PKB), Jan Darmadi of the Nasdem Party and Mustika Ratu president Mooryati Soedibyo, who is said to be linked to Jokowi’s PDI-P.

Nasdem, PPP and PKB are political parties that support Jokowi’s administration. Hasyim, who is considered to be a non-partisan figure, is also on the list.

A political analyst from the Indonesian Civilized Circle (Lima), Ray Rangkuti, described the list as more to do with political advisors than presidential advisors, since they would advise Jokowi on various issues, including politics.

“From his first three months in office it is clear that Jokowi has yet to find the best formula to face political turmoil. I don’t think that the majority of people on the list would be a great help for Jokowi. Retired TNI generals prefer security approaches rather than dialogical approaches, which are important in state lobbies. Also, I don’t think that security issues are the main problems that Jokowi’s administration is facing now and in the future,” Ray said on Sunday.

He also lambasted Jokowi for listing business people who are closely related or directly related to political parties, adding that becoming a presidential advisor is the third luxury that Hendropriyono would enjoy, if he is inaugurated, after Jokowi earlier appointed his son-in-law, Brig. Gen. Andika Perkasa, as the head of the Presidential Security Detail (Paspamres). His other son, Diaz Hendropriyono, was recently appointed a commissioner for the nation’s largest cellular operator, state-owned Telkomsel.

  • lambasted – mengecam

Famous pluralist says he is too old to be an adviser to the President
List of rumored candidates includes ex-soldiers, businesspeople and politicians
Head of NU does not know if he is in the running since he failed to answer phone

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