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Jakartans Demand Demolition of Obama’s Statue

Ho ho ho… One of Christmas gifts given to the US President Barack Obama recently is threatened to be withdrawn. There are at least 20 groups of Indonesian people on Facebook demanding his childhood statue in a park in Jakarta to be demolished.

The groups share the same idea of bringing the bronze statue down motivated solely by nationalism as a sovereign nation. The Indonesian version group with the most members questioned the vision and benefit of its existence for local people bearing in mind that he wasn’t exist in the country’s history.

“Barack Obama has no contribution for the nation. It can be said that he had gone by Menteng just for eating and pupping. He lives American life for the rest,” the group said referring neighborhood where Obama had spent his childhood for four years in 1970s.

As this blog mentioned in the previous article Double Christmas Gifts for Obama, the US$10,000-worth statue is the first action figure of foreign person in public places in Jakarta. It was unveiled by Central Jakarta Mayor Sylviana Murni on 10 December 2009, the same day he received the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway.

Chairman of the Friends of Obama Foundation, Ron Mullers, expressed concern over negative response towards the statue. The organization initiated the establishment of the statue and had raised fund from ten Indonesians for it.

“It’s just a statue of a boy who once lived in Menteng and liked nasi goreng [fried rice] and bakso [meatball soup],” he said to the Jakarta Globe, adding that there was no political motivation behind it.

‘This is Indonesia’

Of 20 groups on Facebook, 18 are in Indonesian. The biggest one is Turunkan Patung Barrack Obama di Taman Menteng with 45,205 members at the time of writing. One of the two English version groups, Take Down the Barack Obama Statue in Taman Menteng Park, has gained 1,807 members at the time of writing.

They use profile picture of the statue in a forbidden sign read ‘This is Indonesia’.

Discussion on the group’s page has been talking about likelihood to file a class action against the city government. Another concern has demanded the statue to be moved from its current location to the US embassy. Most members are proposing to replace the statue with another portraying local figure. No sculpture of former Jakarta’s governor has been erected in public place this far.

It is getting clear then that he won’t walk alone when he visits Jakarta in 2010. Demonstrators have a new concern by now.


Double Christmas Gifts for Obama

The US President Barack Obama got actually two prizes in the same day on Thursday (10/12). In Oslo, Norway, he received the Nobel Peace Prize as an adult and in Jakarta, Indonesia, he got his childhood statued.

Photo by Sasha

This is another evidence of what I said in the end of my previous post President Idol. We tend to hate our own head of state and over-treat the others. Unfortunately, BBC Three has only The World’s Strictest Parents show which sends teenagers abroad to live with other family. It hasn’t come up with an idea of swapping presidents.

Supporters of the president unveiled a bronze statue of him as a young school boy at Menteng Park. The “Barry Dreams Come True” action figure stands only a stumble away from the school he used to attend as a kid.

“The statue is not for an individual cult nor is it for political

motivations, it’s more to motivate younger generations of Indonesians,” said Sylvina Murni, the Central Jakarta Mayor, as quoted by Reuters. “Who knows, there could be another child from this country who can be a world leader.”

Are students from the same elementary school motivated by the US 44th president? “I do not want to be like Obama, I want to be a general,” said a schoolboy attending the ceremony to Reuters.

Obama spent four years of his childhood in the neighborhood when his mother married her Indonesian husband in the 1970s.

Non-Indo statue

As long as I’m concerned, the US$10,000-worth statue is the first one of foreign person in public places in Jakarta. Even of six presidents of Indonesia only one whose statue is placed in a public place, the founding father Soekarno. However, the Obama statue doesn’t picture him as a president instead of a child and the mayor guarantees no public tax involved in the building.

It’s expected that Obama will be requested to have a look at it when he visits Indonesia in 2010. Blaming on the postponement of the state visit, there will be a longer list of side events waiting for his appearance. His then-school wants to be peeped. His step big-family wants him to share nostalgia in his then-house.

It’s expected too that the experience in his planned visit won’t be much different from what he had in Oslo when he received the Nobel Peace Prize. Demonstration is undoubtedly.


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