Jokowi's mother dies aged 77 after battle with cancer

JAKARTA • Indonesian President Joko Widodo's mother Sujiatmi Notomiharjo has died in Surakarta, Central Java. She was 77.

"The President's mother passed away in Surakarta at 4.45pm (on Wednesday)," said Mr Budi Arie Setiadi, Minister for Deputy Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration.

Mr Joko left Jakarta and arrived in Surakarta at 5.52pm yesterday, the Presidential Palace press bureau said in a statement.

He has requested the members of his Cabinet to focus on governmental affairs and send prayers from the capital instead of going to Surakarta to offer condolences.

"Based on the President's order, the funeral will be held (within the family) and members of the Indonesian Onward Cabinet and their staffers should remain in Jakarta and focus on their duties," said presidential spokesman Fadjroel Rachman.

The President was accompanied by his family members, State Secretary Pratikno and Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, Mr Fadjroel said.

Mr Fadjroel told Kompas TV earlier that among the issues that Cabinet members should remain focused on was the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Joko said during a press conference at the funeral home that his mother died after succumbing to throat cancer. She was born on Feb 15, 1943.

"My mother had suffered from cancer for the last four years and she had received treatment in Gatot Subroto Army Hospital (in Central Jakarta), but God apparently has His own will," Mr Joko said.

Ms Sujiatmi is scheduled to be laid to rest today at 1pm in the family cemetery in Gondangrejo, Karanganyar, Central Java.

Condolences have poured in over social media, including Twitter. Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Australian Ambassador to Jakarta Gary Quinlan were among those who have expressed their condolences over the platform.

Politicians and public figures, including Democratic Party chairman Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, television journalist Najwa Shihab and former fisheries and maritime affairs minister Susi Pudjiastuti, have also conveyed their condolences on Twitter.

Mr Joko has requested the members of his Cabinet to focus on governmental affairs and send prayers from the capital instead of going to Surakarta to offer condolences.

Mr Joko, popularly known as Jokowi, is the eldest of four children. He has three younger sisters: Iit Sriyantini, Idayati and Titik Ritawati.

"The most important thing in raising children is to be honest in all fields," Ms Sujiatmi had said in an interview in 2016 for the Education and Culture Ministry's Sahabat Keluarga (Family Friends) magazine.

"From their young ages, I always told my children, 'do not take what is not yours, do not wish for others' belongings'."

She said she never thought that her son would become a high-ranking official, let alone president, and that she always told him to respect the mandate he received.

"I always tell him that he no longer belongs to just the family, but to the entire Indonesian nation," Ms Sujiatmi had said.

"You have to be very grateful. Do not become swayed. Just take a straight (course)," she added.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 26, 2020, with the headline 'Jokowi's mother dies aged 77 after battle with cancer'. Print Edition | Subscribe