Indo-Lesson 4: Defining "alay", "lebay" and other Indonesian argots

It has been more than two years since I last wrote a post on Indonesian language lessons. Today I'm reviving it. I'll be having it on occassions, so you could expect to read on Indonesian language every once in a while.

What is "alay"?

Today I will discuss four new Indonesian argots that has sprung up for the last eight years in Indonesia. I doubt it that these four words would ever appear in the Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia or any Indonesian-English dictionaries.

For the Indonesian diaspora abroad (who either live among expatriate communities or have naturalised themselves into a citizen of their new country), this could also act as a refresher of what new terms are there in Indonesian.

Before I start, I would like to note that all these four Indonesian words had their birth in Jakarta (mostly among Jakartan youths), before they spread throughout the country through the influence of soap operas or internet.


Foreign Prophecies: Indo-Lesson 4: Defining "alay", "lebay" and other Indonesian argots.

Jokowi's Cabinet announced
here is the lineup

Ina Parlina and Hasyim Widhiarto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Sun, October 26 2014, 5:44 PM


After taking the oath of office on Oct. 20, Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announced on Sunday his Cabinet lineup after delaying the announcement on Wednesday night, which prompted speculation that he was wrangling with leaders of political parties in his coalition who were insisting on nominating problematic candidates.

Jokowi’s Working Cabinet 2014-2019

1. Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Tedjo Edhy Purdijatno (former Navy chief of staff 2008-2009/NasDem Party top executive)

2. Coordinating Economic Minister Sofyan Djalil (former state-owned enterprises minister)

3. Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Indroyono Susilo (an executive with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

4. Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Puan Maharani (legislator/PDI-P top executive)

5. Home Minister Tjahjo Kumolo (legislator/PDI-P top executive)

6. Foreign Minister Retno Lestari Priansari Marsudi (Indonesian ambassador to the Netherlands)

7. Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu (former Army chief of staff 2002-2004)

8. Law and Human Rights Minister Yasona H. Laoly (legislator/PDI-P politician)

9. Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro (deputy finance minister)

10. Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said (PT Pindad president/former PT Pertamina executive)

11. Industry Minister Saleh Husin (Hanura Party politician)

12. Trade Minister Rahmat Gobel (businessman)

13. Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya (NasDem politician/former civil servant)

14. Agriculture Minister Amran Sulaiman (Hasanuddin University lecturer)

15. Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Ferry Musyidan Baldan (NasDem Party politician)

16. Transportation Minister Ignasius Jonan (PT Kereta Api Indonesia president)

17. Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti (owner of airline operator Susi Air)

18. Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri (PKB politician)

19. Public Works and Public Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono (Public Works Ministry top official)

20. Health Minister Nila Moeloek (Indonesian representatives for MDGs)

21. Culture and Elementary and Secondary Education Minister Anies Baswedan (Paramadina University rector).

22. Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indra Parawansa (former women’s empowerment minister).

23. Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin (current religious affairs minister)

24. Communications and Information Minister Rudiantara (PT Indosat commissioner, former top executives for PT Semen Indonesia, PT PLN, PT XL Axiata)

25. State Secretary Pratikno (Gadjah Mada University rector)

26. Research and Technology and Higher Education Minister M. Nasir (Diponegoro University rector)

27. Women’s Empowerment and Child Protection Minister Yohana Susana Yembise (Cendrawasih University lecturer)

28. Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Minister Yuddy Chrisnandi (Hanura Party politician)

29. Villages, Disadvantaged Regions and Transmigration Minister Marwan Jafar (PKB politician)

30. National Development Planning Minister/National Development Planning Board (Bappenas) chief Andrinof Chaniago (University of Indonesia lecturer)

31. State-Owned Enterprises Minister Rini Soemarno (former trade minister 2001-2004/former PT Astra International president)

32. Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Minister AAGN Puspayoga (PDI-P politician)

33. Tourism Minister Arief Yahya (PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia president director)

34. Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi (PKB politician)

Jokowi presidency 'crucial' for reshaping Indonesian economy


Joko Widodo is soon to take office as Indonesian president. But with economic growth cooling and growing concerns about graft and protectionism, the new leader faces major challenges, as economist Rajiv Biswas tells DW.

Indonesien Autofabrik 2014

Former Jakarta governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is scheduled to be inaugurated as president on October 20, after defeating his presidential contender, ex-general Prabowo Subianto, in the July 9 polls. For the next five years, the 53-year-old politician will have to deal not only with a hostile parliament - given that most of its members are aligned with the losing candidate - but also with reviving Southeast Asia's largest economy whose growth has started to slow over the past months and whose current account deficit remains high.

Although Jokowi promised market-friendly policies, he also set a more nationalist tone in the campaign trail, favoring an agenda focused on protecting local resources and firms, and thus adding to concerns among foreign investors.

Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific Chief Economist at the analytics firm IHS, says in a DW interview that if President Jokowi's incoming government is not able to pursue key reforms to improve the business climate and make Indonesia more competitive, global investors could easily lose confidence in the business outlook.

DW: Many analysts argue that Indonesia's economy has underperformed in recent years. Bank Indonesia - the country's central bank – has cut its full-year forecast to 5.1 percent from as high as 5.9 percent. Why does the economy seem to be losing vitality?

Rajiv Biswas, Senior Asia Chief Economist at IHS. 
Copyright: IHS

Biswas: "There is a significant risk that the incoming government could resort to populist policies to boost government spending"

Rajiv Biswas: Growth momentum in the Indonesian economy has moderated over the last eighteen months due to a weaker performance by the export sector, together with the impact of tighter monetary policy as the central bank has hiked interest rates to control inflationary pressures. This has resulted in the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) moderating from a pace of around 6 percent a year ago to around 5.1 percent year-on-year growth in the second quarter of 2014.

What impact is the new president likely to have on the nation's economic fortunes?

The new president's term will be crucial for the Indonesian economic outlook. President Yudhoyono will step down after ten years of office during which time he left a legacy of democratic governance and steady progress in economic development.

Incoming Indonesian President Jokowi will play a decisive role in shaping Indonesia's future economic policies and deciding whether to pursue a strategy of globalization and greater international integration or a more nationalist, protectionist policies that could derail Indonesia's economic growth momentum.

A key additional challenge Jokowi faces is that his PDI-P-led coalition government currently only controls 44 percent of seats in the Indonesian parliamentary reforms which could create serious legislative hurdles to Jokowi’s reform agenda.

The prospects for Indonesia's medium term outlook will be shaped by the policy agenda of the incoming President and the type of economic ministers that are appointed. As there has been a significant shift towards more nationalistic policies during the last two years, mainly in the resources sector, a key concern for global investors is whether such policies could also be adopted in other industry sectors.

Indonesien Präsidentschaftswahlen Joko Jokowi Widodo 22.07.2014

Incoming President Jokowi needs to undertake major microeconomic reforms in key industries, says Biswas

What will be the main economic challenges facing the future economic administration?

Although Indonesia made considerable progress in macroeconomic stabilization under President Yudhoyono, a key challenge for the Jokowi administration will be to implement crucial microeconomic reforms. Among the key priorities are to accelerate infrastructure development for electricity generation and transmission, ports, airports and roads, and significantly improve education and vocational training to build up Indonesia's human capital in key industry sectors.

What policies should be introduced to boost economic growth?

The incoming Indonesian government led by President Jokowi needs to undertake major microeconomic reforms in key industries such as power generation, shipping and ports in order to create more competitive industries that will help to catalyse economic development. The new government also needs to move forward with trade and investment liberalization initiatives that are being negotiated under the ASEAN Economic Community roadmap due to be implemented in 2015.

How is corruption - which is believed to be rampant in Indonesia - affecting economic expansion and development?

According to Transparency International's (TI) global ranking, Indonesia continues to have high levels of corruption and is ranked relatively poorly in the TI global corruption index.

DW recommends

Indonesia's rollback of election rights 'a setback for democracy'

Arguing that they're too costly, Indonesia's outgoing parliament has abolished direct elections for local officials, a move political expert Paul Rowland views as a major blow for democracy in the Southeast Asian nation. (26.09.2014)

Jokowi's winning margin 'too big to be overturned'

Prabowo's coalition could 'undermine' a Jokowi presidency

Election dispute may have 'polarizing effect' on Indonesians

While President Yudhoyono's government has tried to tackle the issue during his presidency, and some progress has been made, corruption remains a key negative factor confronting global investors. "Jokowi" is campaigning on a strong anti-corruption policy platform and has gained strong grassroots support from voters for his anti-corruption policies.

What measures should the new government take to combat corruption?

The incoming government should strengthen the powers and resourcing of anti-corruption units in the national government and implement global best practice methods in government ministries and state-owned corporations. To achieve this, Indonesia should also seek the help of other nations that have a strong track record in combating corruption, such as New Zealand and the Scandinavian countries.

There are many concerns over the country's widening current account deficit. What are the main reasons for the high rates of trade deficit and what can be done to tackle the problem?

Indonesia had maintained regular trade surpluses in recent years until the second half of 2012, when sharp falls in world traded steaming coal prices and some declines for other commodities contributed to a deterioration of the country's trade balance into a deficit.

Strong growth in domestic demand continued to drive up imports, which worsened the archipelago's trade deficit during 2013, becoming a significant drag on economic growth.

Indonesia's trade balance has been hit further in 2014 due to the decision by the Indonesian government in January to ban exports of some unprocessed mineral ores, notably copper and nickel. Discussions are underway between major mining companies and Jakarta to try to find some short-term solution.

The new legislation introduced in January will further extend the ban to some other unprocessed ores in 2017. The aim of the government is to encourage mining companies to do more ore processing in Indonesia, although the risk is that some mining companies could shift production to other nations if it is uncompetitive to do processing in Indonesia.

There are concerns that the next government could implement populist policies. What can the future administration do to eliminate poverty and redistribute wealth in the country without resorting to budget-busting policies?

Armut in Indonesien

Narrowing the wealth gap and providing affordable healthcare are some of Jokowi's major challenges

There is a significant risk that the incoming government could resort to populist policies to boost government spending, such as large rises in wages for public sector workers or major increases in social expenditure on areas such as health care. This could gradually erode the progress made over the last decade in reducing government debt levels.

The incoming government needs to carefully match future expenditure increases to GDP growth and rises in government revenues, so as to maintain low fiscal deficits and constrain government debt to GDP ratios. One important measure would be to reduce government fuel subsidies, which are still a major drain on government fiscal resources.

How are foreign investors viewing the country in terms of an investment destination and what kind of a government will they like to see?

Foreign investors significantly re-rated Indonesia between 2010 and 2013 as an investment destination, with large increases in foreign direct investment as well as investment flows into the Indonesian stock market. A significant factor driving this re-rating was the improving macroeconomic situation, which resulted in Indonesia's sovereign ratings being raised to investment grade by the major rating agencies.

Foreign direct investment flows into Indonesia have doubled between 2010 and 2013.
However, if the next government does not pursue key reforms to improve the business climate and make Indonesia more competitive, global investors could easily lose confidence in the business outlook.

Jakarta Skyline Bau Archiv 2013

Foreign direct investment flows into Indonesia have doubled between 2010 and 2013, says Biswas

How do you expect the Indonesian economy to perform over the coming 12 months and what is the medium term outlook?

IHS forecasts that the Indonesian economy will grow at 5.2 percent in 2014 and 5.5 percent in 2015. However the outlook for 2015 and over the medium term depends to a large extent on continued sound macroeconomic management by the incoming government and sustained pro-market reforms.

Rajiv Biswas isAsia-Pacific Chief Economistat IHS, a global information and analytics firm. He is responsible for coordination of economic analyses and forecasts for the Asia-Pacific region.


Jokowi takes Zuckerberg on ‘blusukan’


The Jakarta Post/Asia News NetworkTuesday, Oct 14, 2014


Jokowi takes Zuckerberg  on ‘blusukan’

Could you ‘Like’ this?: President-elect Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (center left) recommends a pair of pants to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (center right) during a visit to the Tanah Abang textile market in Jakarta on Monday. Zuckerberg is currently on a visit to Indonesia.

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JAKARTA - President-elect and Jakarta Governor Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has his own way of welcoming guests, particularly special ones.

As if a one-on-one meeting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who was on a visit to Indonesia, was not enough to attract the media's attention, Jokowi triggered yet another media frenzy by taking the arguably youngest billionaire on earth on a blusukan (impromptu visit) to the Blok A market in Tanah Abang, Central Jakarta.

Zuckerberg visited City Hall, Jokowi's office as the Jakarta governor, to meet with the president-elect on Monday to discuss potential cooperation under his forthcoming administration.

Zuckerberg arrived at City Hall at 10 minutes to 9 a.m., when he was scheduled to meet Jokowi, and had a meeting which ran for about 40 minutes.

Contrary to common security protocol for a president, Jokowi impulsively came up with the idea of taking Zuckerberg on a blusukan.

"He asked me about blusukan because he saw pictures of me when meeting with the people or visiting traditional markets. He later asked whether or not he could have that experience. So I thought why not go to Tanah Abang because it is close [to City Hall]," he said after the guest left City Hall.

It was just another blusukan day for Jokowi, but apparently not so for Zuckerberg. "He said he felt tired just after five minutes," Jokowi said with a grin.

Jokowi, Zuckerberg - both wearing black suits - and their entourage comprising dozens of presidential security guards, including snipers, and Zuckerberg's team members, arrived at 10:15 a.m. to be welcomed by a swarm of journalists and market shoppers.

The Facebook founder looked relaxed and excited, smiling the whole time, despite the overwhelming crowd and presidential detail surrounding the two.

People at the market, however, were mostly excited about the fact that they were crossing paths with Jokowi, who is set to be inaugurated as the seventh president of the country next week.

"I don't know who that is," Aisyah, a middle-aged woman, said, when asked about the man walking next to Jokowi.

A younger visitor acknowledged that he had no idea about Jokowi's companion, but immediately became excited when informed that it was the founder of Facebook.

The excitement ended after 15 minutes, after which Jokowi and Zuckerberg rushed to Jokowi's Toyota Innova car and drove back to City Hall, where they separated.

Zuckerberg, named TIME's 2010 person of the year, visited Indonesia to promote the campaign, a global initiative aimed at promoting access to affordable Internet services, which he said would contribute to the local economy in the long run.

"When we think about which countries to focus on with and Facebook [we consider] how many people can use the services and also how much better and stronger the economy can be if everyone's on the Internet. Here I think there are 150 million or 200 million people who don't have access to the Internet and unlocking that can transform the economy, can help create jobs and help small businesses grow. There's a lot of data that suggests that business that use the Internet to communicate with customers grow twice the speed of small businesses that don't use the Internet," Zuckerberg told journalists at City Hall.

- See more at:

Indonesian president-elect Jokowi meets Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg in Jakarta


By Indonesia correspondent George Roberts and staff


Jokowi Widodo and Mark Zuckerberg speak to reporters at Jakarta City Hall

Photo: Indonesia's president-elect Joko Widodo (L) and Mark Zuckerberg after their meeting at Jakarta City Hall. (Reuters: Beawiharta )

Indonesia's president-elect Joko Widodo has met Facebook chief executive and founder Mark Zuckerberg in the country's capital of Jakarta to discuss ways the social network can contribute to his country's economy.

Indonesia, which has a population of more than 250 million people, is one of the top five global users of social media.

Jakarta's citizens are considered the most active users of the social media site Twitter.

Mr Widodo, who is also known as Jokowi, asked Mr Zuckerberg to help promote Indonesia's small businesses.

"We talked about Facebook users in Indonesia and how to use Facebook to push micro-economy," Mr Widodo told reporters after their meeting on Monday.

"He said he was ready to work with the government.

"There are 70 million Facebook users in Indonesia, which provides great market potential, but I told him that [Indonesia] should also benefit [from the platform]."

According to the World Bank, less than 16 per cent of Indonesians use the internet, but that figure is more than double what it was five years ago.

Mr Zuckerberg is using his trip to Indonesia to promote, a Facebook-led project aimed at boosting internet access around the world.

The 30-year-old billionaire said improving internet connectivity could help to "transform the economy".

"When we think about which countries to focus on with and Facebook [we consider] how many people can use the services and also how much better and stronger the economy can be if everyone's on the internet," Mr Zuckerberg said.

"Here I think there are 150 million or 200 million people who don't have access to the internet and unlocking that can transform the economy, can help create jobs and help small businesses grow.

"There's a lot of data that suggests that business that use the internet to communicate with customers grow twice the speed of small businesses that don't use internet."

Mr Widodo, who used social media in his political campaign, will be sworn into office next week

Can Indonesia's Jokowi meet expectations?

By Michael Bristow BBC News, Jakarta


Political analyst Tobias Basuki likes to tell a story about Indonesian President-elect Joko Widodo that has perhaps been embellished over the years but shows why so many people have such high hopes for the country's next leader.

A few years ago, Jokowi, as the president-elect is known, was named by the magazine Tempo as one of Indonesia's 10 best regional politicians.

At the time, he was the mayor of Solo, a city on the island of Java.

Mr Widodo was invited to the magazine's office for an interview and a reporter apparently found him in the lobby sitting on his own, without the entourage that usually accompanies Indonesian politicians.

As Mr Basuki tells it, Jokowi looked like a commoner, someone's driver. "Who are you?" asked the journalist.

The future president-elect then stood up and bowed politely as he offered the reporter his name card. The image of Joko Widodo as a humble public servant was born.

Elected Indonesian President Joko Widodo's supporters attend victory celebrations on 23 July, 2014 in Jakarta, Indonesia Mr Widodo's down-to-earth leadership style has won him supporters

'Most honest politician'

This unassuming style was Jokowi's hallmark during his time as Solo's mayor and then as governor of Jakarta from 2012, a post he still held when he won Indonesia's presidential election in July.

He won the poll with 53% of the vote over his rival, Prabowo Subianto, who got 47%.

"His down-to-earth style of leadership is new in Indonesian politics. There seems no gap between him and the people he leads," said Mr Basuki, of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta.

But style can only get you so far, there has to be substance. Joko Widodo also has an enviable record in getting things done.

For his work as mayor of Solo, Jokowi came third in the World Mayor Prize of 2012, an annual award given to leaders who have revitalised their cities.

This is what the judges said about Jokowi, who did not draw his salary while he was mayor: "Joko Widodo turned a crime-ridden city into a regional centre for arts and culture, which has started to attract international tourism.

"His campaign against corruption earned him the reputation of being the most honest politician in Indonesia."

Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto shakes hands with a supporter as he campaigns in Mojokerto, in eastern Java island on 24 June, 2014 Many Indonesian politicians, like election rival Prabowo Subianto, have less accessible public images

Jokowi has burnished that reputation during his short time as governor of capital, Jakarta.

He built new homes for people living in some of the many slums dotted around the city, initiated projects to alleviate the flooding and introduced a scheme to give poorer people virtually free health care.

He also re-started building work on a badly-needed metro system for the traffic-clogged city.

Then-Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo, delivers a speech as he campaigns ahead of legislative elections in Malang on 30 March, 2014 As Jakarta Governor, Mr Widodo successfully delivered on promises he made during campaign speeches

His supporters are not hard to find, particularly in a poor area called Tanah Tinggi in central Jakarta.

In this densely-populated space, chickens peck around the feet of chatting neighbours. In the heat, flies buzz around food laid out for sale on stalls all along the narrow streets.

Rooms inside the small homes are dark and sparsely furnished but in an area of the slum stands a group of neat, two-storey homes built of concrete that have running water and indoor toilets.

Jokowi built these houses shortly after becoming Jakarta's mayor in order to re-house some of the people living in Tanah Tinggi.

Thirty-eight-year-old Marlina and her family were some of the lucky ones to get a new house.

"All I know is that it was Mr Jokowi who built my house and we didn't have to pay a cent," Marlina said, as she turned on the tap to show off her home's facilities.

Residents of the Muara Angke fisherman village travel in three-wheel motor vehicles through water in the street from recent rains Flooding, as a result of poor drainage systems, continues to plague many Indonesian cities

Mounting challenges

But when he becomes president in October, Mr Widodo faces a series of pressing problems, not least the massive fuel subsidy that keeps petrol so cheap in Indonesia.

The government spends three times as much on this as it does on infrastructure construction.

Mr Widodo has promised to phase out the fuel subsidy and use the money for the poor but that proposal has already upset motorists.

There are also wider issues to tackle, including poverty. Indonesia has more than 100 million people who survive on $2 (£1.20) a day or less.

Tanah Tinggi Many residents of Tanah Tinggi face poor and dangerous living conditions

Nurhayati Nurhayati (pictured right) and her family live beside a railway line that runs alongside Tanah Tinggi

Some of those people live right next to a railway line that runs alongside Tanah Tinggi, within touching distance of the trains that pass by.

Families live in temporary shelters, made from tarpaulin and odd bits of wood. Every now and then, railway authorities arrive to chase people away and destroy their homes, but those who live there simply return.

They earn a living by scavenging, sorting through rubbish looking for plastic bottles to sell.

Nurhayati is one of them. She came to Jakarta as a migrant with her mother from eastern Java when she was just 13.

Now 21, she has two children who play alongside the railway tracks as trains rush pass.

"The price we get for bottles has fallen recently," she said.

Over the longer term, helping people such as Nurhayati is going to be Mr Widodo's most difficult task.

Peter Carey, a visiting professor at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, said the economy had grown rapidly over the last decade and Indonesia was soon expected to become one of the world's richest countries.

But he said there needed to be a real desire within the government to provide people with proper health care, a better education system and a co-ordinated transport network - and deal with the country's notorious corruption.

"Indonesia has a huge income gap to close. What's the point in becoming so rich if none of this wealth is used for the benefit of the people of this country," he said.

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Unmoved by politics, Jokowi’s son sticks to business


Hasyim Widhiarto, The Jakarta Post, Surakarta

At first glance, Gibran Rakabuming Raka, 26, shares all the traits of his father, presidential frontrunner Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
Aside from the outwardly jovial and humble appearance, Gibran answers questions in much the same manner as his father — with modesty and brevity.
But when it comes to career path, Gibran has taken a different route, eschewing all political activity to follow the entrepreneurial spirit that seems to run in the family.
But unlike Jokowi, 53, who was a furniture retailer before becoming mayor of Surakarta, Gibran’s business is food.
On one Friday morning in June, Gibran was seen closely supervising his employees as they filled fresh-baked croquettes into red boxes stamped with his trademark Chilli Pari Catering logo.
Gibran said the swan-shaped snack was one of the signature products of Chilli Pari, a business he established after completing his undergraduate study in 2010.
“We are about to send these samples to local companies and hotels,” Gibran said in a recent interview at his company’s spacious kitchen and office on Jl. Pleret Utama in Surakarta.
“Ramadhan is coming soon and we want to inform potential clients that we have a special promotional package for the month.”
Gibran, who emits an idealistic flair for his business, said he found his calling as an entrepreneur at a young age.
The eldest of three siblings, Gibran said he had made a detailed business plan as a university student, though his father, at that time one of Surakarta’s most successful furniture retailers, had been reluctant to support the idea.
After graduating, Gibran took out a bank loan to start up his business.
“I initially wanted to focus on the catering service business only, but later I learned that I had to meet the demands of customers who often prefer having their wedding events handled in one package with the catering,” said Gibran, who spent more than eight years studying in Singapore and Sydney, Australia.
As he learned the ropes of the business, he realized that despite his desire to sell only healthy food products, the customer was always right.
“During my first year in the business, I insisted on not adding any MSG [monosodium glutamate] to my food. Consequently, I received a lot of complaints from costumers, saying the food was tasteless,” he said.
“Today, I let my customers decide whether they want to have MSG or not.”
Despite having three years in the business, Gibran modestly characterized his cooking ability as “basic”.
In that short time, however, Chilli Pari has becoming one of the city’s largest catering and wedding planning businesses. six experienced chefs, 15 permanent staffers and hundreds of other employees, Gibran said Chilli Pari handled catering services for at least 30 events every month. His costumers are both locals and foreigners.
A visit to Gibran’s office provides a glimpse of how the business is run.
A polite and professional marketing team sits behind a large L-shaped desk to greet and assist costumers when they walk in.
Covering the wall behind the desk are large paintings of red chili and rice stalks, or “pari” in Javanese, reminding visitors of the origin of the company’s name.
Photos of wedded couples are arranged in the center of the office while on one side a 32-inch LCD TV ran footage promoting the company’s one-stop wedding packages with English subtitles.
And throughout the office played a bossanova rendition of a traditional Javanese tune, creating a warm and classy ambience.
Gibran, who drives a white Mazda hatchback, refused to reveal his annual revenue.
“It would only encourage tax officials to hunt me down,” he jokingly said.
Meanwhile, in a recent interview with MetroTV, Jokowi said he had previously been a bit disappointed with Gibran’s reluctance to take over the family furniture business.
“He wanted to establish his own business from scratch and become independent. That was his personal choice. If people asked me whether I was disappointed with that choice, I would say I was, but only for a little while,” said Jokowi, who is running against Prabowo Subianto in the July 9 election.
The business relationship between father and son, however, has now emerged in another form.
Chilli Pari, for instance, offers a joint wedding package with the management of Graha Saba Buwana, a 2,000-capacity Javanese-style meeting hall owned by Jokowi, located only five minutes from Gibran’s office.
The cheapest package, which includes a buffet for 1,000 guests, costs Rp 56 million (US$4,669).
“Our cooperation with the hall management is strictly professional. We pay the rent just like any other costumer,” Gibran said.
Unlike his mother Iriana, sister Kahiyang Ayu, 23, and brother Kaesang Pangarep, 19, Gibran has never been seen beside his father at a campaign event.
Even when Jokowi was in town campaigning last week, Gibran stayed in the kitchen supervising his employees in preparation for a 2,000-person wedding later that day.
Gibran, who chairs the Surakarta branch of the Association of Indonesian Food Services Entrepreneurs (APJI), is, by his own admission, wary of the media.
He immediately turns down reporters interested only in digging into his father’s political activities or his family history.
Jokowi, undoubtedly Surakarta’s most influential living figure, was the city’s mayor between 2005 and 2012 before becoming the governor of Jakarta. After announcing his presidential bid in March, the city has become a flashpoint for journalists scouring for information about Jokowi and his extended family.
But for Gibran, talking politics is not worth his time, as he hasn’t the slightest intention of following in his father’s footsteps.
“There’s no point in asking me about politics since I know nothing about it,” he said.
“But I will meet those who want to know more about my business since I’m here to make money — not a political career.”