New start?: President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (fourth left) makes a statement about the Cabinet reshuffle from his home in Cikeas in Bogor, West Java, as Vice President Boediono (fifth left) and Yudhoyono's coalition partners look on.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s luxurious home in the Puri Cikeas Indah housing complex in Bogor, West Java, has the same resonance as the private residence of former dictator Soeharto on the once-sacred Jl. Cendana in Jakarta.
Most Indonesians associate Cikeas with Yudhoyono. His sons, Agus Harimurti and Edhie “Ibas” Baskoro, have been dubbed “The Princes of Cikeas”, recalling Soeharto’s youngest son, Hutomo “Tommy” Mandala Putra, who was called “The Prince of Cendana”.
History unfolded in Cikeas several times, including when Yuhoyono announced his runs for president in 2004 and 2009, and when he eventually delivered victory speeches.
Cikeas was also the place where Yudhoyono summoned candidates for ministerial slots and high-ranking jobs when forming his Cabinets in 2004 and 2009.
Presidential politics aside, Cikeas, built in 1997, is also the place where Yudhoyono feels comfortable enough to weep.
Before an audience of Democratic Party politicians in May, Yudhoyono cried after the party’s then treasurer, former lawmaker Muhammad Nazaruddin, fled the country to escape graft charges.
Cikeas became a political center again after President revealed his plan to shake up the Cabinet and started summoning politicians, bureaucrats, and professionals to his residence on Oct. 13.
The President’s special assistant for political affairs, Daniel Sparringa, said neither politics nor supernatural reasons were behind Yudhoyono decision to stay at Cikeas when deciding important policies.
“At the Palace, the President only has two small rooms in which to contemplate. It’s difficult for him to concentrate, as many places are actually public areas,” Daniel said.
“In Cikeas, Yudhoyono feels free to work the way he likes. He can even wear shorts to go around without being spotted by others.”
The president’s house, which sits on a 7,500-square-meter plot, is around 100 meters from the main entrance to the Puri Cikeas Indah housing complex, which is protected by the Presidential Security Guards.
Several high ranking generals and officials also live in the compound, including Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto.
All the President’s neighbors have luxury houses.
Although many people complain of traffic jams caused by the presidential motorcade as Yudhoyono commutes to Jakarta, some people living nearby said they felt blessed to have the President as a neighbor.
Nyai Imas, 40, the owner of a nearby noodle kiosk, said she had a rush of customers, including security guards, police officers and even journalists, whenever Yudhoyono was at home.
“Even though I’m concern that terrorists might target the President’s house, I’m pretty happy to live here, as I can see the President pass in front of my kiosk and wave his hand to the people,” she said.