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Jokowi's presence at lavish wedding sparks controversy amid Covid-19 curbs

YouTube star Atta Halilintar married singer and model Aurel Hermansyah in a lavish wedding costing 100 billion rupiah (S$9.2 million).
YouTube star Atta Halilintar married singer and model Aurel Hermansyah in a lavish wedding costing 100 billion rupiah (S$9.2 million).PHOTO: LIPUTAN6

JAKARTA • A lavish wedding of one of Indonesia's biggest YouTube stars, Mr Atta Halilintar, costing 100 billion rupiah (S$9.2 million), has courted controversy, with questions as to why President Joko Widodo was at the event amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has curbed many public functions.

The nationally televised wedding was also attended by Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto and a slew of House of Representatives members.

Mr Widodo sat with six other distinguished guests, including his wife, Iriana, while the newlyweds sat beside them. Mr Prabowo sat at the other end of the table.

Mr Atta, who has 27 million followers on YouTube and is said to earn US$1.6 million (S$2 million) a month, married singer and model Aurel Hermansyah last Saturday.

According to Mr Atta, both top officials were invited as witnesses to their wedding. "We want this happy moment to be witnessed by great figures in our country," Mr Atta said at a news conference at the Raffles Jakarta hotel.

"We want to show that we're serious about our wedding. So my side of the family is represented by Mr Jokowi, and Aurel's side of the family is represented by Mr Prabowo," he said, using the popular name for President Widodo.

Popular writer and singer Fiersa Besari got the ball rolling in the controversy when he appeared to criticise Mr Widodo's presence at the wedding, especially as the government has formally banned the annual mudik (exodus to home towns) just before Hari Raya Puasa next month.

"This is a country of paradoxes," Mr Besari tweeted. "Mudik is banned but holiday destinations open together. The roads are closed, but traffic jams are everywhere. People aren't allowed to hold wedding parties, but a celebrity's wedding is personally attended by the country's leader."

Former maritime affairs and fisheries minister Susi Pudjiastuti, herself very active on social media, replied to Mr Besari, showering him with crying emojis before stating "sad to read your tweet".

Public health expert Irma Hidayana said of Mr Widodo: "His time would've been better spent visiting hospitals to check their readiness, or doing impromptu inspections at the health ministry to ensure that they are ready to distribute the vaccine. There are so many things on his bucket list."

Ms Aurel's parents, Mr Anang Hermansyah and Ms Krisdayanti, were both popular singers who entered politics and became members of the House.

Ms Krisdayanti said on her YouTube account that people "shouldn't overreact" to the President and Mr Prabowo's presence.

But Mr Wisnu Prasetya Utomo, a media observer and lecturer at Gadjah Mada University, said: "For a year, people have had to sacrifice their weddings, or even had their wedding dispersed by security forces. Suddenly, we see the President and high officials at a big wedding. What we see is one rule for the elite and celebrities, and another for the common people."

THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 09, 2021, with the headline 'Jokowi's presence at lavish wedding sparks controversy amid Covid-19 curbs'. Subscribe