10 things to know about Indonesia's new President Joko Widodo

Newly appointed Indonesian President Joko Widodo (middle) being congratulated after his inauguration. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN TAI
Newly appointed Indonesian President Joko Widodo (middle) being congratulated after his inauguration. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN TAI

Indonesia's new President Joko Widodo is said to be affable and polite, and is described by many as the "man of the people". Here are ten things about the president known affectionately as Jokowi:

1. Born in 1961, Mr Joko grew up in the Central Java city of Solo as the eldest of four children. As a boy, he helped his carpenter father collect and cut wood, which the family sold as part of their living. He rode to school on a green Yamaha motorbike loaned from his uncle.

2. After graduating with a forestry degree from one of the country's top universities, Gadjah Mada, in 1985, Mr Joko set up a business supplying wood flooring, before settling into manufacturing furniture. "My first exports were to Singapore," he said. He successfully ran for mayor in Solo, a town in central Java, in 2005 and in 2012.

3. It was his performance as the mayor of Solo that first gained him attention with his ability to resolve issues like floods, dirty streets and slums. By 2012, he was elected the governor of Jakarta, making him a contender for presidency.

4. He got his nickname "Jokowi" during his days as a furniture exporter. A furniture buyer from France, once sent him an order meant for another Joko, and started calling him "Jokowi", to avoid future mix-ups.

5. He was a regular visitor to Singapore because two of his three children studied here. His youngest son Kaesang, 19, is studying for his international baccalaureate at Anglo-Chinese International. His eldest son Gibran studied at Orchid Park Secondary School before getting a diploma at the University of Technology in Sydney and an undergraduate degree in marketing at the Management Development Institute of Singapore. Now 25, Gibran runs his own catering business. Mr Joko also has a daughter Kahiyang Ayu who is 23.

6. The president and his wife Iriana dress and live simply. He prefers clothes that are comfortable and practical, and was often seen in plain white or red-and-blue checked shirts during his election campaign. His wife is also never seen wearing branded items, and most of her dresses are reportedly purchased from Tanah Abang, a major textile market.

7. The First Lady, 51, a graduate of an economics school, knew Mr Joko through his little sister and married him in 1986. "I'll just be myself," she told media after her husband's presidential victory, adding that she had never compared herself with previous first ladies.

8. Mr Joko is comfortable speaking English, his third language. His accent may be Javanese but his outlook is global.

9. Mr Joko is a big fan of hard rock and heavy metal music and lists Metallica, Megadeth, Lamb of God and Napalm Death among his favourites. "Rock music gives me motivation, gives me spirit about the environment, about the corruption, about justice," he once said. "The beat of the drum - boom, boom - gives me spirit."

10. He loves Indonesian street food, and has often been seen eating at a "warteg", or a stall serving dishes originating from Tegal, a regency in Central Java. He was seen twice at a warteg with his party chairman and former Indonesian president Megawati Soekarnoputri.

Sources: Sydney Morning Herald, Bloomberg, Jakarta Post, The Straits Times archives

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