The life story of Barack Obama has become an inspiration for people across the globe, including Indonesia.
But for more than 6,000 Facebook users, erecting a statue of the US President in a park in Menteng, Jakarta, is too much.
Just a few days after the Central Jakarta municipality unveiled the bronze statue of Obama as a boy at Menteng Park, experts and a group of Facebook users have jointly demanded the city administration dismantle the statue for “insulting national pride.”
Facebook users have been joining the group, “Take down the Barack Obama statue from Menteng Park,” which was created Saturday evening, two days after the statue was launched.
Heru Nugroho, the group’s creator told The Jakarta Post there was no point erecting the “Barry” statue in Indonesia since he had contributed almost nothing to the country.
“For me, the establishment of the statue shows that this country no longer has national pride,” he said Monday.
“Obama spent several years of his childhood here, but what did he do for Indonesia?
“Besides [Obama], there are many national figures or heroes, such as [late comedian] Benyamin Sueb, who deserve to have their sculpture erected in Jakarta.”
Several others support Heru’s opinion.
Cultural observer Ardi Yunanto wrote in online urban studies journal karbonjournal.org that the sculpture showed the country’s “tortured logic,” insinuating that Indonesian education could “produce” a US president.
Asep Kambali, the founder of Komunitas Historia Indonesia, a history enthusiast group, said the establishment of the Obama statue was an example of the absence of dialogue between the city administration and its people in deciding what was culturally and historically valuable to the city.
“The administration is supposed to first run a public consultation with people such as historians, community figures or people in art communities, before erecting iconic works such as monuments or sculptures,” he said.
Asep, however, said there was no need to dismantle the Obama statue from its current location.
“Even if by a little, it would affect the relationship between Indonesia and the US,” he said.
“The most important thing is that the government sees the current public protest as a wake-up call to facilitate and encourage the country’s citizens, especially the youth, to learn more about national history.”
The bronze statue, resembling a young Obama, was installed by the Jakarta-based Friends of Obama Foundation to inspire the Indonesian youth to work hard to reach dreams, the foundation said.
According to data from the city’s Park and Cemetery Agency, nearly 90 percent of the statues in cities were funded by the private sector. Before erecting statues, financiers must first submit their construction proposals to the agency.