Speaking Of Asia

Jokowi's journey as Indonesia's leader

Many underestimated him when he first came to power. Now he has to show that a former mayor of Solo can make a lasting impact beyond Indonesia's shores.

My well-sourced colleague Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja's report this week that jockeying has already started in Jakarta for pole position to replace President Joko Widodo, when his second and final term ends in 2024, sent the mind back to a meeting with the Indonesian leader early in his first term.

Mr Joko, who has been popularly known as Jokowi since a French client of his erstwhile furniture business coined the word, was then the popular outsider who'd upended many elite calculations with his dramatic rise from mayoralty of Solo to governorship of Jakarta in 2012 and two years later, the presidency itself.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2020, with the headline 'Jokowi's journey as Indonesia's leader'. Subscribe