Famously known as Jokowi, Joko Widodo is the incumbent President of Indonesia, holding the office since 20 October 2014. Prior to rising to the highest political ground, Jokowi served as an Amor of Surakarta and a Governor of Jakarta. He is arguably the most popular and liked president in Indonesian history.

Early Life and Education

Joko Widodo was born on 21 June 1961 in Surakarta, Indonesia. He was raised by his parents, Noto Mihardjo and Sudjiatmi Notomihardjo, with three sisters. The siblings went to State Primary School for early education. Struck badly by poverty, Jokowi started working at a tender age of 12 to buy school materials. For post-primary schooling, he went to SMP Negeri 1 Surakarta.

After the completion of high school, Joko joined Forestry Faculty at Gadjah Mada University. He earned a degree from Gadjah Mada in 1985.

Personal Life

Talking about Jokowi’s married life, he tied the knot with Iriana Widodo a year after graduating from the Gadjah Mada University. The couple has three children: Kahiyang Ayu (25), Kaesang Pangarep (22 years old) and Gibran Rakabuming Raka (29 years old). While Gibran is already married, Kahiyang is a recent graduate of Sabelas Maret University and Kaesang is a college student.

Joko Widodo with his wife Iriana Widodo.

Peeping on Joko’s hobbies, he likes playing guitar and listening to heavy metal music by Led Zeppelin and Metallica.

Career

Jokowi started his professional career as an employee at PT Kertas Kraft Aceh. Soon, he left the job and established his own business named CV Rakabu in 1988. The firm saw continuous success until it was charged with fraud, so CV Rakabu had to be shut down. However, Jokowi re-established the firm and consequently became a successful entrepreneur in furniture export business.

Politics

An outgoing person, Widodo was always interested in Indonesian and world politics. This interest led him to run for the office of Mayor in 2005. Just like Donald Trump, Jokowi was a stranger in politics. Anyway, due to his pervasive business influence in Surakarta, Widodo won the mayoral election and assumed office on 28 July 2005.

While at the mayoral office, Jokowi focused on progressive reforms and building rapport between the government and the people. The numerous infrastructural development works and progressive reforms he made in government policies were highly compelling for Surakarta’s voters. Hence, winning the second election was an easy job for Widodo. In seven years at the office, Jokowi formulated healthcare & education insurance for all and promoted Surakarta city as a tourist and business center. Likewise, he strictly regulated deforestation and worked towards preserving culture by establishing new traditional markets.

Having seen continuous success and immense support, Jokowi ran for the Governor of Jakarta in 2012 and subsequently had an obvious victory over the incumbent Governor Fauzi Bowo. Under the capacity of a Governor, Widodo focused on health care program which surged health service demands by 70%; on educational programs by launching ‘Smart Jakarta Card’; on financial reforms to increase government spending alongside an increment of tax revenue; on transparency in order to discourage corruption and on flood control by initiating dredging and reservoir normalisation techniques.

By 2014, Jokowi had already been a favorite of all Indonesians. Hence, the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle nominated him to run for President. Having won 53% plus popular votes, Indonesian messiah assumed Presidency on 20 October 2014.

As a president, Jokowi has used his full capacity to use advanced technologies to upgrade infrastructures and re-strengthen bilateral relations with countries all over the world. Interestingly, Jokowi’s presidency has brought positive output gap in the Indonesia economy although the yearly inflation remains unwantedly high.  Jokowi’s presidency has also raised business confidence as well, therefore attracting enormous amounts of Foreign Direct Investment.

Awards and Honours

National honours
  • Star of Service Rank of Utama – 2011
  • Star of the Republic of Indonesia Rank of Adipurna – 2014
Foreign honours
  • The Most Esteemed Family Order of Brunei (DK) – 2015
  • Order of Abdulaziz al Saud – 2015
  • Great-collar of the Order of Timor-Leste – 2016

Trump and Widodo

President Trump and Widodo seem to have similar background – both are business persons and were political strangers until they directly got elected to a significant position. Following Trump’s win in 2016 Presidential Election, Widodo made a congratulatory call and assured that the Indonesia-US will improve under Trump administration.

Despite Jokowi’s positive attitude towards American counterpart, Indonesian people have reacted with hostility, mainly after Trump’s travel ban on seven Middle-East economies. The Indonesian Muslim population even wants the government to ban Trump businesses in Indonesia. So, it’s hard to determine yet how the Indonesia-US ties will be under the presidency of these two leaders.

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