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Indra Setiawan Named to Head Garuda

Apparent 11th Hour Shuffle Leave Samudera Out of the Race for the Post.

(5/9/2002) What appeared to be a fait accompli wasn't.

On Again, Off Again

After personally telling the press that he had been summoned to by his brother, the Minister for State-Owned Enterprises, on Wednesday, May 1, and congratulated on his appointment as the President Director of Garuda, Samudera Sukardi was subsequently called by the Minister of Transportation and mysteriously told his official letter of appointment had somehow gone missing.

That Samudera had lost the "crowning achievement" of a life-long career with the National Carrier became increasingly obvious when, last weekend, his Brother's lieutenants at the Ministry called to share the disappointing news that his appointment as Garuda's number one could jeopardize his Brother's Ministerial position and that he was therefore being offered the face saving alternative of becoming Indonesia's Ambassador to Japan.

Indra Setiawan Now the Boss

Named, instead, to head Garuda is Indra Setiawan, a 25-year veteran with the airline whose most recently served as an advisor and Commercial Director to the Airline.

Putting a brave face on the failure to appoint his own brother to the post, Laksamana Sukardi, Minister for State-Owned Enterprises told the press that Setiawan is equally well qualified for the position and that the appointment of his brother would have affected the Government's credibility.

Political Forces at Play

Local political observers, however, believe larger forces may have been at play in the final decision to side step Samudera's appointment. Despite a high-profile last-minute public endorsement of Samudera Sukardi by Indonesia's Vice President, Hamzah Haz, their was wide spread concern that the appointment of Samudera, an official of the United Development Party (PPP), could result in the airline being used as a cash cow to finance coming election campaigns. Vice President Hamzah Haz is the most prominent member of the PPP party serving in the current Government. The PPP nominated and lobbied hard for Samudera to win the top airline post. Conversely, Indra Setiawan has no official link with any of the major political parties in the Country.

Indra Setiawan was formally sworn-in as Garuda's new President on Monday, May 6, in a ceremony held at the office of the Minister for State-Owned Enterprises in Jakarta. Possibly underlining the last-minute struggle surrounding the appointment, Setiawan told reporters that he had only been advised of his appointment earlier that same day. At the same ceremony, Hotasi Nababan, the President of GE Lokomotif Indonesia, was installed at the President of the state-owned Merpati Nusantara Airlines.

Setiawan to Focus on Customer Service

The appointment of Indra Setiawan ends nearly four months of speculation on who would win the coveted post following the resignation of Garuda's current President, Abdul Ghani.

In comments made following his installation, Garuda's new President declared customer service as a central theme of his new administration of the State Owned Carrier.