Indonesia’s fisheries minister wins Internet hearts with paddleboard stunts
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Indonesia’s fisheries minister wins Internet hearts with paddleboard stunts

NETIZENS are heaping praise on Indonesia’s Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti after she posted a series of Twitter pictures of herself on a paddleboard – one where she effortlessly strikes a yoga pose and another of her kicking back with a cigarette.

The exchange of tweets began when Bu Susi, as she is known, first posted a photograph of herself balancing on the board in the ocean. Netizens promptly responded with a number of tailored versions.

One netizen asked, “In the end did you drown? Looks fun.”

The minister good-naturedly responded with a photo of herself sitting on the paddleboard, cigarette and coffee in hand.

Bu Susi was an airline and seafood export mogul before being appointed to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s Cabinet in October 2014.

She has a reputation for being an unconventional government minister by Indonesian standards. When she entered Parliament as one of eight women in Cabinet, some criticised her for being divorced, tattooed and a smoker.

Yet since joining the government, surveys show she is one of the most popular ministers in Jokowi’s Cabinet.

The minister has led a major crackdown on illegal fisheries in Indonesia. Indonesia has destroyed hundreds of boats caught in its waters under her leadership, including blowing up 60 boats last August to mark Indonesian independence day.

After Chinese boat owners pleaded with the government not to destroy their property, in April 2016, the minister declared “if there’s illegal fishing carried out by an American boat, we will sink it too.”

On Sunday, Bu Susi tweeted at another netizen about her firm commitment to “keeping the sea of the future of the nation. The ocean is my real home. Passion, love, commitment.”

When one netizen asked to share the minister’s cigarette, she quipped “I shouldn’t. It’s unhealthy.”

According to the World Bank, Indonesia has the highest rate of smoking prevalence on the planet. In 2012, a whopping 72 percent of adult males in the country were smokers, compared with 45 percent in Malaysia and 18 percent in Australia.

This has major health and socioeconomic costs as an estimated 97 million non-smokers in Indonesia are routinely exposed to second-hand smoke while 11.5 percent of monthly expenditures of households with smokers goes to tobacco.

“I’m always trying to quit,” tweeted Bu Susi, “the health minister will be angry with me later.”

In the photograph of herself doing yoga on the paddleboard, she noted “the health minister will like this one more.”