Among the renowned public figures in Indonesia, many would immediately recognise the names of Indra and Sandiaga Uno. Although the brothers are working in the local entrepreneurship scene, Indra chose the corporate business side, and Sandi went into its political side. Professionally and personally, their successes are thanks to the strict teachings and loving discipline from parents Mien and Razif “Henk” Uno. While people might instantly recognise Mien as a businesswoman and educator, her husband is quite a mysterious figure behind his family’s stories of success.
Henk is a trained civil engineer with a long, respected career at the American-based oil corporation of Caltex. The couple had moved between Sumatra and the US before settling into Jakarta to support Mien’s professional calling. They are also of one mind to build a happy and healthy family, which translated well into harmonious relations inside and outside their home. “Upon entering the marriage life, we both had agreed upon a set of guides to raise our family called GBHB (Garis Besar Haluan Berkeluarga),” said Henk. “Although we set the rules and examples of dos and donts, having respect and accord for one another is equally important to allow room to grow and ease friction.”
With the same approach in their marriage of 56 years, Mien and Henk always worked together to solve any disagreement. “Fighting between couples is quite normal, a heated debate in need of negotiation accordingly,” Mien said. “We come from different backgrounds, so understanding your partner to avoid inflicting pain is important.” She had come from a family of teachers living in Bogor city, and he came from a family of public officials living in Gorontalo. Having met at a party in Bandung during their university years, Mien and Henk have stayed together through thick and thin to raise their children equally as better versions of themselves.
Now well into their happy 80s, the couple keeps quite an active lifestyle and remains close with one another. Henk, who is more of a quiet character, likes to spend time reading magazines on diverse topics to keep in touch with current events. Mien, an outgoing extrovert, often leads virtual seminars for women and shares insights about character building on her Instagram account. “You cannot buy a good personality; it needs years and years of self-cultivation and expression,” she said. “This is why I chose Henk over many others who courted me previously, and we shared the same visions about our future.” With a smile on his face, Henk added that “Mien is diligent and gives her all in at work and life, but it doesn’t hurt to have her as a beautiful, tall woman.”
The same hardworking spirit to achieve self- sufficiency powers the couple’s decision to create the Mien R Uno Foundation in 2000. Joined by Indra and Sandi on the board, they aim to help Indonesian youths through entrepreneurship training, consultancy and other empowering projects. Besides the foundation, Mien and Henk also give back to the country and the people they love through books. Mien has published many books on her expertise ranging from etiquettes education to traditional kebaya and jewellery collection, with two biographical releases this year: Citra Cinta untuk Bu Mien and Dari Kolonial ke Milenial. Her other books are highly acclaimed: Cermin Diri and Buku Pintar Etiket are both best-sellers that have seen several reprinting; Kebayaku, among those from Indonesia, was featured in the 2015 Frankfurt Book Fair; and Perhiasanku, was one of the books in The Indonesian Heritage collection at the US Library of Congress. Henk also has a biography, Demi Generasi yang Lebih Baik, which frames his legacy to inspire the next generation.
With their wealth of knowledge and wisdom, it is of no surprise to see friends and families around Mien and Henk enjoying their company and discussion. Although virtual communications have taken place instead of in-person meetings these days, they look forward to once again gather with their extended families—especially those relatives in Gorontalo. “There are many places in Indonesia we would like to visit, and I feel like a chicken inside its coop after staying put for so long!” said Mien with a laugh. “Moreover, the culinary scene in my birthplace is so tasty with its savoury, spicy-sour seafood dishes,” Henk said additionally. Just like these colourful flavour amalgamation in their favourite food, under their careful care, the Uno family life is a beautiful blend of nature and nurture one could strive for: a legacy of love well-fulfilled for Mien and Henk.
Photography by Hendar Abadi Creative Direction | Styling by Clairice Halim
This story appears in the August 2021 issue of Tatler Indonesia. Read our e-magazine and their full story here.