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Jakarta Post

Interpreters share best moments about their time with Jokowi

  • Tama Salim

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, July 19, 2017   /   07:00 pm
Interpreters share best moments about their time with Jokowi All smiles: President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo (right), accompanied by his interpreter Dimas Muhammad (center), jovially opens his bilateral meeting with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte (left) on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, on July 8. (Courtesy of the Foreign Ministry/File)

Only a few select people have witnessed the steady rise of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo,  a budding global leader known mostly for his domestic policies.

He has eased into his role as a world leader since he was inaugurated three years ago, especially following his confident performance at the G20 meeting in Germany a few weeks back.

It is Jokowi’s interpreters from the Foreign Ministry, who are tasked to accompany the President at international events, who are fortunate enough to see his increasingly confident performance.  

For Dimas Muhammad, 25, Jokowi’s "trademark flair for straightforward and effective communication" has not only set the President apart from other world leaders who dabble in verbosity, but also helps him as an interpreter in transmitting the country’s leader's messages.

Dimas, who was appointed to be a presidential interpreter in September 2016, recounts one of his most memorable experiences with the President that also debunks the stereotype about his English being terrible.

“During a meeting with a foreign dignitary [at Bogor Palace], there was a moment when the figure was at a loss for words and wanted to say something to a particular effect in English,” Dimas told The Jakarta Post earlier this week.

“President Jokowi, whose English was presumably suspect, saved the day by [coming up with the right expression]. Right then and there I knew for sure the President was more than what meets the eye."

Meanwhile, Mochammad Iqbal Sirie, 33, who became Jokowi's interpreter at the time of his inauguration and served until February this year, recounted his busy days with the President going abroad to attend various international conferences and meetings.

"Normally during leaders' coffee break, lunch or dinner receptions, we often have to struggle our way through to accompany the leaders for an informal talk or even formal bilateral meetings. We don't usually have time for a proper meal, so water, biscuits and breath mints are essential," Iqbal said recently.

Iqbal, now the third secretary at the Indonesian Mission to the United Kingdom, declared that his most memorable experience as an interpreter was during the 2015 meeting between President Jokowi and former United States president Barrack Obama at the Oval Office in Washington DC.

“I never thought of being able to enter a room I always see in Hollywood movies," he said. (ebf)