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Indonesian First Daughter Shuns Special Treatment

Kahiyang Ayu, daughter of Indonesian President Joko Widodo, is escorted by security as she arrives to take the civil service exam in the city of Solo, Central Java, Oct. 23, 2014. (Y. Satriawan / VOA)

The daughter of new Indonesian President Joko Widodo has turned a routine civil service exam into the subject of a national focus by turning down the special privileges normally afforded to the relatives of the country's elite.

Kahiyang Ayu did nothing more Thursday than show up for the civil service exam in the city of Solo and take the test with more than 6,000 others.

The move has caused a stir in Indonesia, where corruption and nepotism are chronic problems, and the children of the elite are often given special treatment.

It comes less than a week after her father took office following a campaign promising to tackle corruption. This week, President Widodo, who is widely known as Jokowi, took the unheard of step of having the nation's anti-corruption watchdog vet potential cabinet members.

Wearing the same black and white outfit as the rest of participants, but guarded by a security team, Kahiyang Ayu told reporters after the test that she only wants to succeed like everyone else.

"By participating in the ... test, I hope, we’ll see depending on the results, to pass it and be accepted as a civil service employee," said Ayu.

Lilis Jannatun, another candidate who sat near the first daughter during the exam, tells VOA that she was surprised that no special treatment was given to Widodo's child.

"Yes, she sat near the stairs during the exam, just two seats away from where I sat.. I didn’t see any security guard at her side during the test. She did her ... test with no special treatment," said Jannatun.

The head of the Regional Employment Service, Hari Prihatno told reporters that treatment and facility for all participants, including the president’s daughter, are equal.

"All of you who are journalists saw with your own eyes, everything is according to standards and procedures, no special treatment, even if she’s the president’s daughter. She, like everybody else had to wear the same outfit for the test, black and white, brought along her test card and identity card. She sat together with the rest of the participants on a similar seat without cushion. Everything here is transparent," said Prihatno.

A total of 6,200 people took the test for just 65 job openings in Solo.

This report was produced in collaboration with VOA's Indonesian Service.