26 November 2014
Indonesia’s recently-elected President Joko Widodo has captured the attention of the world media by his manner of dress and unassuming character. But this simple self-presentation has a long history in Southeast Asia, where assuming an ordinary character is also a form of cultural capital that carries huge symbolic power.
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) made international headlines recently when he flew economy-class from Jakarta to Singapore with his wife to attend the graduation ceremony of their son. Jokowi’s aide pointed out during the trip that the “President was travelling as a father, and not in his official capacity as President”, and thus did not avail himself the use of the presidential aircraft normally used for official visits.
His quick and quiet trip however, was reported across Asia and the West, and it was noted by many media commentators that this marked an impressive and visible shift from the style of leadership of previous Indonesian presidents, whose visits, and official events were often characterised by the show of pomp and grandeur.
…Farish A. Noor is an Associate Professor at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University.
GPO / RSIS / Online
Last updated on 27/11/2014