If there’s one car in Indonesia that should never break down, it’s probably the RI 1 presidential car.
But that is exactly what happened last Saturday when President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was visiting West Kalimantan. After inaugurating a power plant in the province’s Mempawah regency, Jokowi and his entourage were being driven to Kubu Raya regency for lunch when RI 1 broke down.
“Yes, it broke down on the journey after driving for approximately 30 minutes,” said Bey Machmudin, head of the Presidential Press Bureau, who also went on the trip, as quoted by Warta Kota.
Bey said that President Jokowi and First Lady Iriana were then moved to another car after the president’s security detail cleared the area.
It turns out that the current RI 1, a Mercedes-Benz S-600, has been the presidential car since former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s days.
“That car was acquired in 2007, so almost 10 years ago,” said Darmansjah Djumala, head of the Presidential Secretariat on Monday.
Despite breaking down, Darmansjah said the current RI 1 car has been receiving routine maintenance and that it doesn’t have any major issues, so it’s still perfectly suitable to transport VVIPs. However, he said he wasn’t sure if they would continue to use it as the presidential car since there are other, newer S-600s ready to take up the mantle.
Interestingly, this wasn’t the first time this RI 1 broke down, with a similar incident happening in East Java in September 2016. At the time, Jokowi also had to be moved to another car.
It’s all well and good that the central government apparently doesn’t feel the need to splash cash on a brand new presidential car every few years, but when we’re talking about the safety of the nation’s leader, that is one case where such expenditures might be justified.
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