Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Soeharto minister's son-in-law to lead investment agency

Young businessman, owner of around 30 companies, and close aide for President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Muhammad Lutfi, has been appointed as the head of the Investment Coordinating Board.

Lutfi is replacing Theo Toemion, a close aide to former president Megawati Soekarnoputri, who is under police investigation for punching some foreigners at the basketball game on April 17 at Jakarta International School.

The 36-year-old businessman is the leader of Mahaka Group, a business group with interests ranging from electricity, luxury apartment developer, commodity trading, and media.

Who is Lutfi anyway?

Lutfi, a graduate of Pepperdine University in Los Angeles, played a high-profile role during Yudhoyono's election campaign last year, acting as an economic adviser and a spokesman.

He is son-in-law of Hartarto, former minister and close aide of former president Soeharto. Hartarto served as Soeharto's minister for almost 15 years.

The young entrepreneur started his own company at 24 with three friends. “We started off by trading in oil, mid-distillate products,” he says. From oil, the group expanded to grain and then set up a plant which produces calcium hydrate, the substance that separates copper from gold.

Today, the Mahaka Group has grown into a medium-sized company with 30 subsidiaries. More recently, it has moved into media, taking a controlling stake in Republika, a local daily.

He was accused of a juicy rice import activity with Indonesia’s state logistics company, Bulog. Lutfi’s company was accused of being awarded the import license of 400,000 tones of rice without a proper bidding process, thanks to his father-in-law. But he denied the accusation and no investigation was ever conducted.

His involvement in Republika (strong Islamic base readers) put him in a close relationship with Islamic scholars. In a seminar on sharia economics conducted by the University of Indonesia February 19, 2002, Lutfi said the Islamic economic system is an alternative to the global capitalistic model of the economic system.

It remains to be seen how Lutfi will attract investors, especially with his ideals of promoting an Islamic economic system, while most of investors in Indonesia come from the capitalist world (Japan, Europe, USA, Singapore, and Hong Kong).




Blogger Kahlil said...

I thought Lutfi is a FORMER son in-law of Hartarto. He has divorced Hartarto's daughter some time ago

June 13, 2005 1:01 PM  

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