Man on the Move
    Category: Issues & Ideas By : Taufik Darusman Read : 1183 Date : Tuesday, August 06, 2013 - 06:25:26

    Ahmad Zamroni / Forbes Indonesia

    House of Regional Representatives (DPD) Speaker Irman Gusman is living in the fast lane. Politically, that is. Soon after the Constitutional Court, granted the DPD the same legislative powers the House of Representatives (DPR) is vested with in April, he flew to Papua to join in celebrations marking 50 years of the island's integration into Indonesia. The Papuans reciprocated his gesture by declaring him their presidential candidate for 2014.

    In May, after a two-week whirlwind tour of universities in Medan, Bandung, Semarang and Yogyakarta to discuss the future role of the DPD, he was off to Washington on the invitation of the United States-Indonesia Society to speak on the same topic and to share his insights on R.I.-U.S. ties. He then flew to Moscow for a three-day trip to return the visit by his Russian counterpart last year and attend meetings with the country's senior government officials and business executives.

    “The DPD or Indonesian Senate represents 33 provinces with over 500 regencies, districts, and mayoralties, while the lower house or DPR represents the interests of political parties that win legislative elections,” says Irman, 52. “I'm glad the Constitutional Court finally conducted a judicial review that led to this milestone decision.”

    Irman's parliamentary career started in 1999 as a member of the People's Consultative Assembly, representing West Sumatra, a Muslim stronghold that has produced many of Indonesia's finest intellectuals. A former businessman, Irman later plunged into politics and spearheaded the process to amend the 1945 Constitution that led to the establishment of the DPD. In 2009 he became its speaker after serving as its deputy in 2004.

    Irman belongs to the nation's new breed of pluralist politicians. He is not associated with any political party—he is closely associated with Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second-largest Islamic organization—and earned a degree in Economics from the Jakarta-based Christian University of Indonesia (UKI), where he served as chairman of its Student Senate. He later received his MBA from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut. 

    “A politician almost always aspires to hold the nation's highest office, the presidency. I am ready, as my long years in politics equip me for that,” he said alluding to the possibility of him taking part in the Democratic Party's 2014 presidential candidate convention in August.

    Forbes Indonesia interviewed the peripatetic politician at his office in Jakarta last month, only a few hours after he arrived from Madura for one of his regular trips to, as he says, “feel the pulse of the nation and the people.”