First Family stays cool, won't parade wealth
Hasyim Widhiarto and Sita W. Dewi
The Jakarta Post
The children of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono may have no reservations about showing off their luxurious lifestyles, but the children of Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, who will be sworn in as President on Monday, are on the other side of the fence.
Although they are far younger than the Yudhoyonos, there is no indication that they are fond of the latest Apple iPhone, Land Rover SUVs or high-end fashion, despite the fact that their parents can certainly afford such things.
As a businessman, Gibran Rakabuming, Jokowi's eldest child, could afford to take the path of luxurious living if he chose to.
But he opts to remain humble, driving a Mazda hatchback bought from the proceeds of his catering and wedding-planning business in the family hometown of Surakarta, Central Java.
Instead of worrying about what to wear for his father's presidential inauguration ceremony on Monday, Gibran chose to stay in Surakarta until the last moment to deal with clients who had ordered his catering services for the weekend.
While his mother and two siblings have been in Jakarta since last week to prepare for the ceremony, Gibran said a mounting workload at weekends had made it impossible for him to leave the city earlier than Sunday evening.
'I have a company to take care of. I will be able to leave the city only once my catering jobs are done,' Gibran, who recently turned 27, told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Gibran, who, at first glance, shares all his father's traits, will have to adapt to a set of strict state protocols as a member of the First Family, which is subject to around-the-clock security provided by the Presidential Security Detail (Paspampres).
He will surely be approached by a horde of business brokers and politicians vying to use him to secure state projects and business licenses.
Gibran, however, is expecting to see his daily activities unaffected, although he realizes that he will need to make some adjustments, including to the presence of Paspampres personnel. 'I hope nothing changes,' he said.
'I just want to manage my business and daily activities as usual just like when my father served as mayor and governor.'
Despite the massive media coverage, Jokowi has been able to keep his closest family members away from the public spotlight.
The former Surakarta mayor and Jakarta governor was rarely seen in public with their children ' Gibran, daughter Kahiyang Ayu, 23, and youngest son Kaesang Pangarep, 18 ' during his presidential campaign earlier this year.
While Jokowi and wife Iriana, 51, may shun excessive lifestyles, they are less reticent to spend on the best education for their children.
Jokowi sent Gibran to study in Singapore and Australia during his high school and undergraduate years.
Kahiyang has recently completed her undergraduate degree in food technology at state-run Sebelas Maret University (UNS) in Surakarta, while Kaesang, like his elder brother, completed his high school years in Singapore.
Kaesang, a gym freak with an ambition to have a six-pack abdomen, said on Sunday that nothing had changed since his father was confirmed as president-elect.
'Everything's gone on like usual [since the presidential election]. No one at school sees me differently. I hope it will remain so,' he said.
Jokowi and his family have been raised to believe that modesty is of paramount importance, an ideal that is largely lacking among high-ranking public officials, who tend to provide their family members with luxuries and privileges.
Jokowi's wife Iriana is never seen wearing or carrying branded items. Her dresses are mostly purchased in Tanah Abang, Southeast Asia's largest textile and clothing market in Central Jakarta.
While the spouses of most public officials are accustomed to attending social gatherings and product launches, Iriana firmly keeps her distance.
'We're just letting everything flow naturally. There's nothing special about us,' said Iriana, when asked about her family's humility.
Jokowi's mother Sujiatmi, 71, also set an example as she arrived in Jakarta on Saturday for the inauguration ceremony.
She flew economy class from Surakarta and, with other passengers, patiently queued for check-in and security inspection.
When asked on Sunday about her preparations for the inauguration, Sujiatmi said briefly that she would just follow the flow and expect no drastic change in the way she lived her life.
She also said that she had prepared no special clothes for the ceremony.
'I will just wear green,' she said.
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