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Military may remove hundreds more tiger statues

Arya Dipa
Arya Dipa

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Mon, March 20, 2017 | 10:12 am
Military may remove hundreds more tiger statues

The funny tiger statue at the Koramil (Subdistrict Military Command) 1123 Cisewu in West Java. The statue has now been dismantled after the pictures of the statue went viral on social media with netizens' mockery comments. (Courtesy of Twitter/File)

Siliwangi Military Command (Kodam) commander Maj. Gen. Herindra on Friday ordered all military units in West Java and Banten to ensure that tiger statues in front of their posts were consistent with the appearance of the original mascot.

The command symbols are the pride of all soldiers in the territory, and Herindra said they represented bravery, courage and a spirit of not retreating.

The two-star Army general said he did not want to see a repeat of the recent mockery on social media after a Twitter user posted a photo of a beaming tiger mascot at Cisewu Military Command in Garut regency.

It went viral nationwide and even attracted attention internationally after the British Broadcasting Corporation interviewed Herindra about the comical statue.

The statue was demolished on Monday and replaced with a new version that was much closer to the intended symbol.

Read also: Comical tiger statue at military base torn down but netizen frenzy remains

“This morning [Herindra] ordered all soldiers to not only care about the tiger statues but also about the environment and society,” Siliwangi Military Command spokesperson Col. Desi Ariyanto told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

The statue in Cisewu became a source of laughter on social media and even in print and on TV, because it was very different to the ferocious looking tiger on the official logo. Members of the public created various memes, such as comical grinning tiger statues on movie posters.

The statue had been in Cisewu for years but only attracted widespread public attention as a result of the social media exposure.

Some people described it as a toothless tiger, drawing comparisons with the current military situation. After the fall of Soeharto in 1998 and the nation’s adoption of democracy, the military lost its social and political powers and was assigned to concentrate only on external defense affairs.

Famous painter Barli created the symbol a few years after the country’s independence in 1945, on the order of the legendary military leader Abdul Haris Nasution. It was based on the appearance of the now-extinct Javan tiger.

Siliwangi is one of the most prestigious Kodam in the country in light of its history and because many of its former commanders have become prominent figures at the national level. West Java is Indonesia’s most populous province and has a history of rebellions in the 1950s.

“Captain Eko [the sculptor] never saw a Javan tiger,” said Desi, in an effort to explain the reasons behind the appearance of the statue in Cisewu.

Desi said there were as many as 500 military posts in Siliwangi and all of them were required to abide by the instruction. Some of the military bases currently do not use tigers as their emblems but feature scorpions or white rhinos.

“We have around 400 to 500 units. From districts, regencies, cities, detachments to battalions,” he said.

“All the statues should reflect the nobleness of values that we inherited from our ancestors in West Java,” Desi added.

The Cisewu tiger has now been destroyed, but not before it inspired many jokes and rib-tickling memes.