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Indonesia's first lady denies meddling in govt affairs

Publication Date : 17-01-2014

 

Indonesia's First Lady Ani Yudhoyono told the wives of Cabinet members on Thursday that she had never interfered with the way her husband, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, ran his administration.

“This is what I have to keep conveying to all of you; I never meddle in Cabinet affairs. The Cabinet is formed by the President. I take no part in matters [concerning the Cabinet],” Ani said in her opening speech during the Solidarity of Unified Cabinet Ministers’ Wives’ (SIKIB) annual plenary meeting at the State Palace on Thursday.

Before she made the remark, Ani told the wives that there were two meetings taking place at the palace’s complex that day: the SIKIB meeting and the Cabinet plenary meeting, which was being led by Yudhoyono. Ani said that she never attended Cabinet meetings.

Among the SIKIB members that attended the meeting were Okke Hatta Rajasa, the wife of Coordinating Economic Minister Hatta Rajasa; Ratna Djoko Suyanto, the wife of Coordinating Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto; and Sylvia Agung Laksono, the wife of Coordinating People’s Welfare Minister Agung Laksono.

Ani’s statement came in the wake of reports by Australian media suggesting that the First Lady’s crucial role in Yudhoyono’s administration was among the reasons Canberra tapped her phone in 2009.

While making clear that she never interfered with her husband’s work, Ani, however, said she was still offended that many people thought she did nothing but spend her time on Instagram.

She told the officials’ wives about her recent argument with a follower of her Instagram account who criticised the First Lady for spending her time on Instagram while her people struggle to cope with floods.

“I was annoyed by a follower who said that while people are dealing with floods, Ibu is on Instagram. It was like this person was saying that all I do is go on Instagram, although it was a holiday that day,” she said. “Why should they be angry at me when I responded by asking where the wives of Jokowi [Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo] and Ahok [deputy Basuki Tjahaja Purnama] were.”

Ani later complained that sometimes people thought that the President and First Lady were extremely powerful and that they should handle everything.

“I want to tell them [that] not everything is the business of the President and First Lady,” she said, citing the duties of the police, the military and the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB).

It was not the first time Ani, who loves photography, directed her anger toward one of her Instagram followers for making comments that she deemed inappropriate.

Ani recently played a role in convincing Yudhoyono to regularly review the national health insurance (JKN) programme to ensure that doctors were better compensated for providing health services under the scheme. The move was made following mounting concerns from doctors who left comments on the First Lady’s Instagram account, among other reasons. “Incidentally, because my wife Ibu Ani was flooded with messages from various groups, yesterday I asked her to post my statement through her Instagram so doctors and the medical community know that we are working continuously,” Yudhoyono said at that time.

 

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