Indonesia’s new President Joko Widodo caused a stir this weekend by opting to fly economy class to watch his son’s high school graduation in Singapore, drawing praise and criticism online.
Skipping the usual heavy security protocol for heads of state, Widodo and his wife Iriana queued for check-in at Jakarta airport like ordinary passengers before taking their economy seats.
Widodo is known for his common touch, and his family have maintained a modest lifestyle since he became leader of Southeast Asia’s biggest economy last month. His presence caused a buzz at the airport as passengers shouted and clamoured to shake his hand, with some taking selfies.
However, some thought it was a publicity stunt. “Sir, stop polishing your image, just act natural,” a man commented on a news portal. Harry Azet tweeted, “Living a fake life is difficult: Jokowi went to Singapore flying economy but slept in an expensive hotel.” Widodo stayed in a five-star hotel, an official confirmed.