Jokowi makes a sweeping change at the Indonesian Palace

Jokowi makes a sweeping change at the Indonesian Palace

JAKARTA - As President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo continues to push his relaxed style of leadership at the State Palace by breaking strict protocols, many of his staffers have been staggering to keep up with his frenetic style.

Oftentimes meetings take place outside original schedules, which means glitches and confusion, especially among Palace staffers who had long been familiar with more rigid protocols that had been underway during the administration of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Just recently, the country's 34 governors took the initiative to sit down on the steps of Bogor Palace in West Java to take a photograph with Jokowi, a scene rarely seen in the rigid surroundings of the presidential office.

Jokowi, true to his improvisational nature, immediately joined and sat together with them after answering questions from reporters in a doorstop session.

When he ventured outside the Palace, Jokowi also shunned strict protocols and travelled only with his essential staff.

Jokowi had made three working visits so far: a visit to evacuees of the eruption of Mount Sinabung in Karo regency, North Sumatra, his first presidential trip overseas to China, Myanmar and Australia and his current visit to Sumatra.

Last week, with only protection from seven presidential security detail (Paspampres) officers, Jokowi and First Lady Iriana took an economy class flight to Singapore to attend the graduation of their youngest son, Kaesang Pangarep.

Most of the time, Jokowi did away with events prepared for him by government officials.

In his visit to the Mount Sinabung evacuees, Jokowi skipped a formal gathering prepared by the local government and chose to directly visit victims of the disaster.

Cabinet Secretary Andi Widjajanto said it was the protocols and the security details that had to adapt to Jokowi's habits.

Jokowi, however, would not breach certain security and protocol details deemed essential for his security, Andi said.

Andika Perkasa, chief of Paspampres was spotted several times wearing less formal attire - cargo pants and sports shoes - so that he could move more freely to keep up with Jokowi, including during an event at the Palace in late October and during the launch of the Indonesia Smart Card (KIP) and the Indonesia Health Card (KIS) programs at the Central Jakarta Post Office earlier this month.

"It is still a learning process but there are three examples of blusukan [impromptu informal visits] that we are using. So, we will keep evaluating blusukan to find the best pattern to meet his unique style," Andi added.

The protocol for a minister to meet Jokowi is now also easier as the President welcome initiatives for such a meeting.

"The protocol is very easy and without the administrative procedure of sending request letters first," he said. They can simply ask us [Andi and State Secretary Pratikno] to arrange a schedule to meet with him."

Jokowi has also ordered his ministers to conduct blusukan because he wanted the ministers to understand the real situation, instead of simply working behind their desks, Andi said.

State Secretariat secretary Taufik Sukasah said Jokowi wanted the Palace staffers and officials to work fast and keep up with his pace.

"Now, we have keep up with his pace. Everything have to be done quickly and it all has to be adjusted," he said.

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