Indonesian president mourns after mother dies at 77

Widodo holds a private funeral for Sudjiatmi Notomihardjo amid coronavirus fears
Indonesian president mourns after mother dies at 77

President Joko Widodo seeks a blessing from his mother Sudjiatmi Notomihardjo ahead of the 2019 presidential campaign. His mother died of cancer at the age of 77 on March 25 in Central Java. (Photo from Facebook/President Joko Widodo)

Indonesians are mourning President Joko Widodo’s mother Sudjiatmi Notomihardjo, who died on March 25 at the age of 77.

She died in Slamet Riyadi Military Hospital in Surakarta, a city in Central Java province, after a struggle with throat cancer.

Widodo and his family members, accompanied by State Secretary Pratikno and Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, arrived in Surakarta, the president's hometown, soon after his mother’s death.

Widodo asked all state officials and non-family members not to attend the funeral on March 26 because of fears about Covid-19, which has infected 790 people and killed 58 in Indonesia, according to official figures.

“There is one thing I always remember of her, which is her simplicity. I visited her home in Solo about 10 years ago. There was no luxury at all when her son was running for Jakarta governor at that time,” Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan wrote on Facebook.

“Her simplicity remained when her son was elected president.” 

Cardinal Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, who is also chairman of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference, extended his deepest condolences to the president.

“Along with all bishops who are members of the Indonesian Bishops’ Conference and on behalf of all Catholics in Indonesia, we offer our deepest condolences on the passing away of Grandma Sudjiatmi Notomihardjo to the president and all his family members,” the prelate said in a statement received by UCA News.

“May her virtues be a priceless legacy for all of us.”

Rev. Gomar Gultom, chairman of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia, said the president’s mother had contributed much to the country.

“She delivered, took care of and raised a son who is now serving as Indonesian president. This is a priceless gift. This country owes her,” he said.

Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko, secretary of the bishops’ Commission for the Laity, said President Widodo showed great statesmanship while coping with grief.

“He has to think hard about how to save Indonesia from the Covid-19 pandemic. On the other hand, he just lost someone he loved much. In this difficult time, he showed great statesmanship by asking people to send prayers instead of attending the funeral. This is incredible,” he told UCA News.

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