Jokowi steals spotlight during Singapore visit

Jokowi steals spotlight during Singapore visit
Indonesian President Joko Widodo (left) and First Lady Iriana Widodo (right) with their son Kaesang Pangarep (centre), who received his certificate on 21 November 2014 after completing his International Baccalaureate at Anglo-Chinese School (International).

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo returned to Indonesia on Sunday after completing a short trip to Singapore, where he attended his son's graduation ceremony, snapped selfies with his son's college friends and had a courtesy-call meeting with the prime minister of the city-state.

Jokowi and First Lady Iriana arrived in Singapore on Friday evening to attend the graduation ceremony of their youngest son, 19-year-old Kaesang Pangarep, who has just completed his International Baccalaureate diploma at Anglo-Chinese School (International) Singapore, or ACSI.

Cabinet secretary Andi Widjajanto said Jokowi and Iriana declined to use the official presidential aircraft and instead preferred to travel on a Garuda Indonesia commercial flight and to pay all expenses related to the travel.

Despite the visit's personal nature, the Singaporean government provided the President and the First Lady with a chauffeured white Audi sedan bearing the license-plate number S-1, used only for state guests.

At Kaesang's graduation ceremony, Jokowi received a rock-star welcome, with students from the college taking turns snapping group pictures or selfies with him.

"I feel happy and I wish to say thanks to ACSI for helping to teach my son," Jokowi said as quoted by The Strait Times.

The Times also reported that Kaesang received the loudest cheers from his excited classmates during the ceremony. Ho Wee Kwong, Kaesang's physics teacher, said his student remained humble throughout.

"No one knew his status [as the son of the Indonesian president]. He takes the bus just like the rest of the students. Even with teachers, he didn't say he was the mayor's or the governor's or the president's son," said Ho, 40.

"He just says he's Kaesang and his father is a businessman," he added.

Jokowi and Iriana have three children: sons Kaesang and Gibran Rakabuming Raka, 27, and daughter Kahiyang Ayu, 23.

Gibran, now running a catering business in the Central Java city of Surakarta, also spent several years at the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS).

On Saturday morning, Jokowi and Iriana joined Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong for breakfast before their departure to Jakarta.

"Had breakfast with President Joko Widodo and his wife, Iriana, this morning. They were here for their son's graduation from ACS (International). We had Selera Rasa Nasi Lemak [rice steamed with coconut milk] from Adam Road and Roti Prata [fried bread] from Madras New Woodlands.

See us tucking in!" Lee said in a message posted on his official Facebook page accompanied by a picture of him, his wife Ho Ching, Jokowi and Iriana enjoying their meal.

Upon arriving in Jakarta, Jokowi told reporters he used the breakfast meeting to thank Lee for providing him with a state car during his short visit to Singapore.

Known for his modest lifestyle, Jokowi, who was a successful furniture businessman prior to entering politics, seems to be less reluctant about spending more when it comes to his children's education.

Prior to sending Gibran to study at MDIS, he sent him to Australia for high school.

Jokowi, however, is not the only Indonesian president whose children have studied in Singapore.

Former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's sons, Army officer Maj. Agus Harimurti and Democratic Party politician Edhie "Ibas" Baskoro, received master's degrees from Singapore's Nanyang Technological University in 2006 and 2007, respectively.

There are also other heads of state who have sent their children to Singapore for their higher education.

Graduating in the same year as Agus were Loro Horta, son of former Timor Leste president Ramos Horta, and Nguyen Minh An, son of Vietnam's former president Nguyen Minh Triet.

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