The appointment of a retired four-star general as Indonesian President Joko Widodo's chief of staff highlights his need for an "enforcer" to navigate his priorities through an opposition-controlled parliament. Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, 67, is a former commander of the country's elite special forces unit Kopassus, a former ambassador to Singapore and former trade and industry minister. He was appointed to his new role on December 31. In a country where the military still wields much influence and remains one of the most cohesive institutions in the reform era, Luhut is expected to provide strong backing and experience to Widodo's economic, political and social reforms. "Luhut has always been a strong supporter of President Jokowi and Jokowi's victory in the last election was very much assisted by the strong volunteer support created by Luhut," said retired three-star General Agus Widjoyo, who is also the former deputy speaker of Indonesia's upper house, the People's Consultative Assembly. A military observer said Widodo, also known as Jokowi, needed to consolidate power and Luhut was someone who could watch his back. "Jokowi needs to stay ahead of the issues and not act after an event. He needs an enforcer, and Luhut has a reputation for being smart and ruthless," said the military observer, who requested anonymity. Luhut's past experience and connections in government and the military where he maintains strong connections are expected to stand him in good stead. "He is an effective political communicator and maintained effective relations with his domestic and international network," Widjoyo said. "Luhut also has the advantage of having the experience of working in the government as a minister and former ambassador to Singapore," he added. However, Widjoyo cautioned against excessive involvement of the military in political affairs in a country where the people rose up to oust the military-backed regime of the late president Suharto in 1998. The post-Suharto Indonesia demanded the military leave their appointed seats in parliament and the upper house, an effort in which Widjoyo played a significant role. "Bringing in an overdose of his experience in the military and involving the military would be counter-productive to the government," said Widjoyo, who is known as a reformist general. Widodo's coalition only holds 37 per cent of the 560 seats in parliament, while the opposition coalition led by Prabowo Subianto controls 63 per cent. Some analysts have expressed concern that the minority status of Widodo's supporters in parliament will make it difficult to pass much needed pro-reform legislation. "He [Luhut] faces challenges arising not only from the stronger coalition of the opposition in parliament but also because the government's coalition is fragmented," Widjoyo said. "He has gained the confidence of the president yet he has to start building the trust of other elements in the government's coalition." Luhut's appointment also highlights the waning influence of Widodo's mentor and patron, former president Megawati Sukarnoputri of the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle. Megawati, the leader of the party, had stepped aside to allow Widodo to run for the presidency in last year's elections. "Luhut's appointment can be seen as an indication of Megawati's waning influence on Jokowi. She dislikes Luhut," said the military observer . The military observer said Widodo's incoherent power base was of concern and that issue needed to be addressed. "He [Widodo] has to clean up potential rent-seekers within his cohort and weed out bumbling do-gooders," he said.