Not for the first time, Mr Muhammad Lutfi is currently the Minister of Trade of the Republic of Indonesia. On 23 December 2020 Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo moved Lutfi from his previous post as Ambassador to the United States - arguably the most senior diplomatic position in the Foreign Ministry - just less than six months after being sworn in.
This is the second time he became Minister of Trade. In 2014, Lutfi filled the same position, just months after he completed a successful posting as Ambassador Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Indonesia to Japan and Micronesia. Lutfi is a prominent believer of international trade, investment, and other mutual collaborations of other aspects. During his Ambassadorship, Japan’s investment in Indonesia rose more than six folds from USD 715 million to USD 4.6 billion. To describe him as the youngest yet most senior Indonesian Statesman would not do justice to his other achievements and contribution, as well as impact to Indonesia and internationally. For millions of Indonesian young generations of today, Muhammad Lutfi is simply the most rounded, most experienced, and successful young leader they aspire to become. Kompas, Indonesia’s largest daily newspaper once ran out of words in reporting news of his new achievement. It was the awarding night of the Mahaputera Medal of Honour, which is the most prestigious medal of honour that the President of Indonesia bestows to a very few and selected citizens including Lutfi. The next day, Kompas charged him with the simplest and just headline “Always the Youngest”. Born on 16 August 1969, Lutfi has been a highly inspirational figure. Notably because he was the first generation of a few self-made Indonesian billionaires. Together with his friends Erick Thohir, Wishnu Wardhana and Harry Zulnardy, Lutfi began his ascent after founding the Mahaka Group
– currently managing a portfolio of Indonesia’s leading media, entertainment, and trading companies. More importantly, the Mahaka Group is today the employer of choice for Indonesian up and coming millennials. Especially those with the most proven talents and acknowledged achievements, to rise further. “They race to be personally successful in their 30s’, so they can dedicate lives early and fully for the state, the public or any other causes larger than themselves,” Lutfi said of the young achievers.
While in business he was also Chairman of the Indonesian Young Entrepreneurs Association (2001-2004), a powerful and the only association for Indonesian young entrepreneurs with over 30,000 active members. Lutfi left the business world as CEO of Mahaka Group in 2005, under the age of 35, to join the government as Chairman of the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM). He was the youngest Indonesian ever to hold that position and also the youngest member of the cabinet. (As Mahaka Group CEO he was replaced by partner Erick Thohir, who since October 2019 also became Minister of State-owned Enterprise in the current administration)
The World Economic Forum was the first international body that recognised Lutfi’s potential way in advance. In 2008, Lutfi received from the WEF the Young Global Leaders Award, pairing him together with other international young leaders including Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the two founders of Google.
He went to Purdue University in the United States for his undergraduate study. Currently, he lives in Jakarta with his wife, Bianca Adinegoro, and his teenage daughter, Devy. He is still a frequent sight if not on the driving range, then at the gyms.