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Obama's Sis, Being the Quiet Sibling

Maya Soetoro-Ng, her husband Konrad Ng, and baby daughter Saturday at the Mandarin Oriental hotel celebrating an exhibit of her mother's Indonesian batik collection. (Courtesy Jodi King)

The Obama family tree is adding another branch in Washington: The president's half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, her husband and kids will be hanging out in D.C. for the next few months.

But don't expect her to go blabbing about her big brother. At Saturday's celebration of her mother's Indonesian batik collection -- Soetoro-Ng's first public event since moving to town -- she skipped a news conference ("I think she is still dressing," Ambassador Sudjadnan Parnohadiningrat told the assembled media) and provided few sound bites about her D.C. adventure.

A modern design by Indonesian designer Priyo Oktaviano. (Courtesy Jodi King)

"I am here to spend time with family," she told reporters who mobbed her at the pre-dinner reception in the Mandarin Oriental hotel. She said she hoped to advocate for causes she feels passionate about (education, international understanding) and that she and her brother didn't fight as children.

The high school teacher, 38, is the daughter of Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, and her second husband, Indonesian businessman Lolo Soetoro. The president's little sis campaigned for him last year and moved here from Hawaii to write a children's book while her professor husband, Konrad Ng, is a scholar-in-residence at the Smithsonian's Asian Pacific American Program. The couple have two young daughters.

At Saturday's dinner, she spoke warmly of the cloth her mother collected while living in Indonesia and the importance of the exhibit (on display at the Textile Museum until Aug. 23): "It's emblematic of her ability to appreciate another culture, another world." To underscore the point, the evening included a fashion show with modern clothing by Indonesian designers.

But she didn't say much about her famous sibling. Doesn't look like the Ng family is moving into the White House, but they had dinner with the president Friday night -- where (stop the presses!) he played with his baby niece "quite vigorously."

By The Reliable Source  |  August 10, 2009; 1:05 AM ET
Categories:  First Family  
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So if I read this correctly, you're unhappy that she wasn't dishing the dirt at public event with reporters?

She's his half-sister, not a moron. Indonesian culture is centuries old and beautiful, but I guess "Him and Michelle had a flight" is only thing worth mentioning?

Posted by: Corey_NY | August 9, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

Aw, lighten up, Corey! It's a sweet post.

My beef is the term "half-sister". Not just in this case, but it always bugs me and seems unnecessary here. Although it's technically correct, it doesn't really describe the relationship.

(Perhaps the term only really works when half-siblings aren't raised together in one family and it's a short-cut to describing that relationship?)

Posted by: dadada | August 10, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

i agree about the half-sister remarks made by dadada. so unnecessary. my "half-sister" has never been anything but 100% my sister, and "half-sister" is fightin' words!

Posted by: paulaschulman | August 10, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Here, here on the half-sister comment. It was made too prominent.

Posted by: rlj1 | August 11, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

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