Jakarta

Little Barry heads back
to school next week

The Central Jakarta administration will move the controversial "Little Barry" statue from its current location at Taman Menteng in Central Jakarta to state elementary school SDN 01 Menteng next week, an official says.

"We are currently discussing with officials from the school and its alumni association," city spokesman Cucu Ahmad Kurnia told reporters Friday. "We hope the move will happen next week."

US President Barack Obama attended the elementary school for almost two years when he spent part of his childhood in Jakarta.

Erected by the Jakarta-based Friends of Obama Foundation in December last year, the statue, which resembles Obama as a boy, recently sparked wide public criticism for insulting the nation's pride.

Just a few days after the Central Jakarta municipality unveiled the statue at Menteng Park, experts and a group of Facebook users demanded it be dismantled.

On Wednesday, the Central Jakarta District Court held a hearing to try a class action lawsuit by five plaintiffs representing 50,000 members of the "Take down the Barack Obama statue from Menteng Park" group on Facebook.

The five plaintiffs - Heru Nugroho, Protus Tanuhandaru, Daniel Rudi Haryanto, Andes Soesman and FX Agung Bimo Sutedjo - filed the suit against Jakarta governor, Central Jakarta mayor and the Jakarta Parks and Cemeteries Agency, saying the statue didn't deserve a place at the park and should be immediately removed.

Although appreciating the administration's plan to remove the statue, Heru said the group would go ahead with its lawsuit.

"We will only withdraw the lawsuit if the city administration publicly apologizes for its one-sided decision to permit the statue," he told The Jakarta Post.

Hawaiian-born Obama moved to Indonesia at the age of six to live with his mother, Ann Dunham, and Indonesian stepfather Lolo Soetoro.

Obama attended third grade at the school in 1968. He returned to Hawaii at the age of 10 to live with his maternal grandparents.

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