President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo faces a major blow in his efforts to quell the COVID-19 pandemic as his mother passed away at the age of 77 on Wednesday afternoon in Surakarta, Central Java, itself an epidemic center with the city administration declaring an extraordinary occurrence status.
Out of 12 positive cases in Central Java, four are being treated at Surakarta’s Dr. Moewardi General Hospital and the city has had one of three deaths in the province.
State Secretary Pratikno urged state officials to stay in Jakarta when praying for Sujiatmi Notomiharjo and refrain from going to Surakarta in large numbers.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please send your prayers from Jakarta. You should focus on your duties,” Pratikno said in a widely broadcast message received by The Jakarta Post.
“Please tell all broadcast groups not to come in hordes to Solo [Surakarta].”
Born on Feb. 15, 1943, Sujiatmi passed away at 4:45 p.m. Jokowi arrived in Surakarta at 5:52 p.m., according to a broadcast message issued by the Presidential Secretariat’s press, media and information bureau.
Jokowi immediately went to the Slamet Riyadi Military Hospital's emergency room where his mother had been treated.
Jokowi said that his mother died of throat cancer that she had had in the past four years.
Sujiatmi was the daughter of Wirorejo and Sani, the only daughter among three siblings. Her parents were wood traders from Giriroto village, Ngemplak district, in Boyolali regency, which directly borders Surakarta.
On Aug. 23, 1959, Sujiatmi married Widjiatno, a friend of her older brother Mulyono. The bride was 16 years old and the groom was 19.
Widjiatno, who changed his name into Notomiharjo after he came of age, hailed from Kranggan village in Gondangrejo, Karanganyar regency, some 25 kilometers from Boyolali. Both his grandfather and father had been village chiefs.
The marriage resulted in a son, Jokowi, who was the eldest, and three younger sisters, Iit Sriyantini, Idayati and Titik Ritawati.
After the marriage, Sujiatmi shifted from being a seamstress and the couple followed her father’s trade in the wood business under the tutelage of Wirorejo and Sani.
Jokowi is known as a calm, courteous, humble and hardworking person. Apparently he inherited these features from his mother.
“The most important thing in raising children is to be honest in all fields,” Sujiatmi said in an interview in 2016 for the Education and Culture Ministry’s Sahabat Keluarga (Family Friends) magazine.
“From their young ages, I always told my children, ‘do not take what is not yours, do not wish for others’ belongings’.”
She said such honesty was the main thing she and her husband taught their children. The couple also imparted the values of good manners, living frugally and being humble to forge the characters of Jokowi and his younger sisters.
She said she never thought that her son would become a high ranking official, let alone the president, and she always told him to respect the mandate he received.
“I always tell him that he no longer belongs to just the family, but to the entire Indonesian nation,” Sujiatmi said.
“You got promoted three times in 10 years. You have to be very grateful. Do not become swayed. Just take a straight [course].”
Sujiatmi's remains were kept at her residence on Jl. Pleret Raya in Surakarta and she was to be buried on Thursday at 1 p.m. in the family cemetery in Gondangrejo.
Meanwhile, condolences have poured in over social media, such as on Twitter. Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Australian Ambassador to Jakarta Gary Quinlan were among those who expressed their condolences over the popular platform.
Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo told Metro TV that Sujiatmi had been active with various social and religious activities in Surakarta. Muhammadiyah chairman Haedar Nasir also said that Sujiatmi was very active in various Quran recitals held by Indonesia’s second largest Muslim organization in Surakarta.