Indonesia's sixth president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono lays a wreath during the funeral of his wife Ani Yudhoyono at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery in Jakarta on Sunday. (Antara Photo/Aditya Pradana Putra)

Indonesia Says Last Goodbye to Beloved 'Ibu Ani'


JUNE 02, 2019

Jakarta. Indonesia has said its last goodbye to former first lady Kristiani Herrawati Yudhoyono, affectionately known by millions as Ibu Ani, as her body was laid to rest at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery in Jakarta on Sunday.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo led the funeral ceremony, which was performed with full military honors. 

"I am the President of the Republic of Indonesia, [here] on behalf of the state, the country and TNI [the Indonesian military]. I hereby give back to the motherland the soul, body and services of Hajjah Kristiani Herawati Yudhoyono," said Jokowi, mentioning Ani's full name with the appellation hajjah, the title for a Muslim woman who has completed the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca.

"Hopefully the path she took can be a model for all of us, and her soul will ascend to its rightful place in the afterlife," Jokowi said. 

He closed his short speech by likening the former first lady to the flower of a flame tree, known as the flamboyant tree in Indonesia. 

Presiden Joko Widodo memberikan sambutan dalam upacara pemakaman istri Presiden ke-6 RI Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Kristiani Herawati atau Ani Yudhoyono di Taman Makam Pahlawan (TMP) Kalibata, Jakarta Selatan, Minggu (2/6/2019). ANTARA FOTO/Aditya Pradana Putra/nz.
President Joko Widodo reads a speech during Ani Yudhoyono's funeral at the Kalibata Heroes Cemetery in South Jakarta on Sunday. (Antara Photo/Aditya Pradana Putra)

Ani passed away on Saturday at the National University Hospital in Singapore where for the past four months she had been receiving treatment for late-stage cancer. 

She is survived by her husband Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, or SBY, the sixth president of Indonesia, her two sons – Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (like his father known by his initials AHY) and Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono, or Ibas, and four grandchildren.

Ani was Indonesia's first lady for the 10 years of Yudhoyono's two-term presidency from 2004 to 2014.

The Yudhoyono family brought her body back to Indonesia on Saturday afternoon on an Indonesian Military Hercules airplane which landed at the Halim Perdana Kusuma Airport in East Jakarta. 

Leaders Show Rare Statesmanship

Presiden Joko Widodo memberikan sambutan dalam upacara pemakaman istri Presiden ke-6 RI Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Kristiani Herawati atau Ani Yudhoyono di Taman Makam Pahlawan (TMP) Kalibata, Jakarta Selatan, Minggu (2/6/2019). ANTARA FOTO/Aditya Pradana Putra/nz.
Politicians, government officials, religious leaders and regional government heads pay their final respect to former first lady Ani Yudhoyono. (Antara Photo/Aditya Pradana Putra)

Thousands came to pay their respect to the former first lady at Yudhoyono's private residence in Cikeas on Saturday night, including Indonesia's third president B.J. Habibie, fifth president Megawati Sukarnoputri, Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan and current first lady Iriana Widodo.

Thousand others also turned up to the funeral ceremony at Kalibata while million other Indonesians followed the live broadcast on their phone or television at home.  

Many remember the former first lady, who was born in Yogyakarta on July 6, 1952, as a keen political operator in her own right and as a champion of many social causes, from early childhood education and HIV prevention to forest replantation and promotion of traditional Indonesian weaving. 

"I can feel Pak Yudhoyono's sadness. Bu Ani is special, a mother of this nation's political journey. When I was still a labor minister, whenever there was a 'technical' problem in communicating with Pak SBY, Ibu Ani was there as a bridge [for us], [sending messages on] SMS or WhatsApp," Muhaimin Iskandar, who is now the chairman of the National Awakening Party (PKB), tweeted. 

Ani's death has for a moment shifted the attention of the Indonesian political elites from a contested election result.

Megawati's presence at the funeral created a bit of a stir because she and SBY had barely spoken since he quit as the chief security minister in Megawati's cabinet to found his Democratic Party and then challenge her in the 2004 presidential race, which he won – the first time an Indonesian president was directly elected by the people.

Megawati, the daughter of Indonesia's first president, Sukarno, has since shunned many chances to meet and make peace with her former ally. 

She came to the funeral accompanied by her daughter, Puan Maharani, the current coordinating minister of human development and cultural affairs, and several top-ranking politicians from her Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).

In a rare moment in modern Indonesian politics, Megawati shook Yudhoyono's hand and the two had a brief chat. Some observers are hoping that the brief thaw in the relationship between the two political giants can lead to a reconciliation between Yudhoyono's Democratic Party and Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). 

Presiden ke-6 Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (kiri) berbincang dengan Presiden Ke-5 Megawati Soekarnoputri (kanan) saat menghadiri pemakaman ibu negara Ani Yudhoyono di Taman Makam Pahlawan Nasional Utama (TMP) Kalibata, Jakarta, Minggu (2/6/2019). ANTARA FOTO/Olhe/Lmo/nz.
 A rare moment: Megawati shook Yudhoyono's hand and the two chatted briefly during the funeral ceremony. (Antara Photo/Olhe)

Presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, who is challenging Jokowi's re-election win at the Constitutional Court, has tweeted his condolences and prayers for Yudhoyono's family. 

Prabowo's run for the presidency was backed by a coalition of parties that included Yudhoyono's Democratic Party.

His rival Jokowi was backed by a coalition led by Megawati's PDI-P.

Prabowo, who is currently in Dubai after leaving Indonesia in a huff with an entourage earlier this week, is expected to meet Yudhoyono's family in person on Monday, Kompas TV reported.

House of Representatives speaker Bambang Soesatyo praised Ani's dedication to her family and said he hoped it can inspire Indonesians to stay united. 

"Family is the main foundation of a nation's strength. When facing difficult situations, families support each other with love and affection, as shown by Pak SBY's family. They've set an example for the whole nation," Bambang said.

In his speech, AHY quoted her mother’s favorite sayings, taken from her 2010 biography Kepak Sayap Putri Prajurit (A Soldier's Daughter Flaps Her Wings).

"Each of us will die, united again with the soil. When that time comes, it is only the values that we hold dear in our lives that can illuminate our final resting place," AHY said.

He then said Indonesians should use this time of mourning to reflect on what they should do for the country. 

"All of us should strive for harmony, peace, progress, prosperity and justice, as Ibu Ani had hoped for," he said.

Putra Presiden ke-6 RI Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Agus Yudhoyono (kiri) dan Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono (kanan) mengangkut peti jenazah Ibu Ani Yudhoyono setibanya di rumah duka, Cikeas, Bogor, Jawa Barat, Sabtu (1/6/2019). ANTARA FOTO/Akbar Nugroho Gumay/wpa.
Agus Yudhoyono, left, dan Edhie Baskoro Yudhoyono acted as pallbearers. (Antara Photo/Akbar Nugroho Gumay)

While she was first lady, Ibu Ani became an accidental Instagram star, famous for carrying her DLSR everywhere and posting intimate snaps of everyday moments from the presidential palace or a Yudhoyono family holiday on the social media platform. At the time of her death, she had 6.4 million Instagram followers. 

She was married to Yudhoyono for more than 40 years.

"Goodbye memo. We love you and we will forever miss you," AHY said at the funeral, addressing his mother by her family nickname.