JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com - The Jakarta Provincial Administration has deferred plans to put a mask on the statue of Indonesian national hero Sudirman, the revered five-star general who commanded the Indonesian army during the war for independence against the Dutch.
Jakarta Tourism and Culture Agency head Iwan Henry Wardhana said that the plan to mask Sudirman on the thoroughfare named after him is not even finalized.
“The information obtained by the media gave the impression that the mask installation will be done soon, with [Jakarta Governor] Anies Baswedan doing the honors,” he said to state news agency Antara.
“In reality the plan to mask the statue is still under discussion, as Anies himself is unaware of the initiative. Installing the mask is not even part of a public service campaign to obey health protocols by wearing masks.”
Jakarta Regional Legislative Council legislator from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) Gilbert Simanjuntak criticized the plan.
“A relatively small number of Jakartans pass the statue. Even then, most are commuting office workers,” he said.
“Most of them, slum dwellers, will not even get the message, which is symbolic at best.”
Gilbert urged city officials to step up their efforts to enlighten the public.
“The authorities should focus more on overcrowded slums and traditional markets. [Covid-19] transmission rates are high there because the locals often defy health protocols.”
While the Jakarta Provincial Administration is still deliberating over putting a mask on the Sudirman statue, the public already made up their minds on the matter.
“I really have no idea what [the Jakarta Provincial Administration] is thinking. If their aim is to make the public wear masks, it will probably make no difference,” said 27-year-old Furqon Hakim.
“It is unseemly to fit a mask on the likeness of a national hero like Sudirman, especially as his statue has become a Jakarta icon.”
Yesica Gultom, resident of the East Jakarta district of Cibubur, begged to differ.
“I agree with the Jakarta Provincial Administration’s aim of persuading the public to wear masks by putting one on the [Sudirman] statue.”
“But I am worried that the public will see the gesture as a joke," Yesica added. "It is not right for a hero like Sudirman to be reduced to a figure of fun.”
Jakarta has 31,162 Covid-19 cases as of Wednesday evening. The pandemic has killed 1,046 people, while 21,069 others have recovered.
(Writer: Walda Marison | Editors: Sandro Gatra, Sabrina Asril)
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