Sri Mulyani greeted as celebrity at ASEAN meeting

Top export: Former finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati (right), now a managing director at the World Bank in Washington D.C., talks with ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan during the opening ceremony of the 15th ASEAN Finance Minister’s Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Friday. (Antara/Nyoman Budhiana)

Padangekspres.net-Top export: Former finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati (right), now a managing director at the World Bank in Washington D.C., talks with ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan during the opening ceremony of the 15th ASEAN Finance Minister’s Meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Friday. (Antara/Nyoman Budhiana)World Bank managing director Sri Mulyani Indrawati, the former Indonesian finance minister, widely dubbed as Indonesia's icon of integrity, stole the show when she arrived at the ASEAN finance ministers meeting in Nusa Dua, Bali, on Friday.

Wearing a green batik blouse, Mulyani's charm seemed to hypnotize participants during the meeting's opening ceremony, which was also attended by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

After the ceremony, dozens of reporters flocked to interview Sri Mulyani, while other guests waited patiently to greet her, or to just shake her hand.

Twenty, if not more, journalists ran after the 48-year-old mother of three, forming a group around her around and asking friendly questions, like “How are you?” and “How’s everything?” as President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Bank Indonesia Governor Darmin Nasution, Finance Minister Agus Martowardojo and other ministers of the Second United Indonesia Cabinet walked past.

Sri Mulyani, nick named the "iron lady" and widely recognized as a tough figure of integrity, answered softly, “I’m well, I’m well. I arrived [in Bali] just last night. All is well. Thank you.”

"I'm just glad to be back among all of you," Mulyani said. She declined to comment further.

When asked if she had met the President prior to the opening ceremony, Sri Mulyani answered, “I [met the President] earlier this morning. We met him with other delegates.”

Mulyani is scheduled to meet Yudhoyono again later at 9 p.m. local time at the Intercontinental Hotel, where Yudhoyono and members of the Bakrie family are staying.

The children of Aburizal Bakrie, Anindya and Ardi, as well as top executives from the Bakrie Group business empire, have been seen at the hotel since Thursday.

Aburizal, the chairman of the powerful Golkar Party and the family's chief patron, is scheduled to arrive at the hotel today, according to sources at the Presidential Palace.

Aburizal is touted to have been behind Mulyani's exit from Cabinet early last year. Rumors suggested Aburizal's strained ties with Mulyani were a result of the impact of her policies on the Bakrie empire.

Speculation emerged surrounding the departure of Sri Mulyani, a University of Indonesia-graduate, that her acceptance of a prestigious job at the World Bank had been ordered by Yudhoyono and was non-negotiable.

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