The ´incumbent´ Minister

August 15, 2018


It was in the year 2009. As a protocol officer, I accompanied Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda at Changi Airport, Singapore, during his transit back to Jakarta from his foreign official visit. It was three days before the announcement of the new United Cabinet of the second SBY’s presidency.


There was no doubt, I believed, that everybody seemed to be certain that Mr. Hassan Wirajudda would remain in his position as Foreign Minister. However, the certainty could not finally be sustained.  Mr. Hassan got his successor


One week later, or just four days after the Second United Cabinet was inaugurated, he was, again, in transit at Changi, on his way to Europe for participating in an international conference, not as foreign minister but as a member of the President’s Advisory Board.


I saw him, the good-looking and very charming looks, coming out from the arriving gate. I was very enthusiastic to meet him, to know what he felt when he was no more in the Cabinet.


I shook his hand and greeted him, “How are you, Pak?”


“ I am fine, Pak Djatmiko. And you? How is everything?


“Everything is just fine, Pak. By the way, we still have time, Pak. Your next flight will be in two hours.” I explained


“It’s Ok. No Problem.. we could be relaxed and have a talk here..” He said calmy


A talk? Yes, that’s it. That what I really wanted at that time. And..being unable to restrain myself from curiosity, I opened the talks by asking him with a supposed-to-be-surprising question, “Pak, forgive me to ask this question.. To tell you frankly, I still don’t believe it. are no longer the Foreign Minister”


To my surprise, Mr. Hassan only slightly smiled and then calmly replied, “Well..that’s life Pak Djatmiko. You have to prepare for any unforeseeable occurrence. Anything could possibly happen in your life”.


He then carried on explaining and advising many things important in life complemented with his experience, expertise and wide knowledge. Eventually, he stated, “I am Ok, I am fine with the fact that I have not been tasked to remain in my position as foreign minister.”


He then gave a statement, “Many get concerned and curious about me, while others keep the believe that I am still the foreign minister.”


What’s a surprising statement he made! I still didn’t get it. I didn’t know what he was really heading to. It generated a big strange question to me. And, while the question continued evolving, I oberved him smiling.


“You know why? Do you know the reasons” Said Pak Hassan finally.


“No, Pak. I don’t”


“Well, because they quoted a Maduranese lingo by saying that ‘the Foreign Minister is always Pak Hassan’.


I curiously asked, ”What about the others, Pak, including the incumbent?”


Pak Hassan replied, “For that question, their answer would be, they are just my predecessors and successors”. I laughed, he laughed, and we laughed together. What a memorable time I spent with him. An Unbelievable conversation we made. But it was true..!




I told this story when I was his moderator during his class session before the participants of the Sesparlu Badge-51 (in September 2014), and he confirmed the story.

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