The Jakarta Post
The sons of late president BJ Habibie officiated on Monday the unveiling of a statue that honors their father in Tibawa district, Gorontalo regency, Gorontalo.
The ceremony was marked with the installation of a stone tablet etched with the autographs of Habibie’s two sons, Ilham and Thareq Kemal Habibie, on the base of the statue.
Habibie’s sisters, Alweni Kalsum and Yayu Modar Habibie, as well as his sister-in-law, Sri Sudarsono, were also in attendance.
“Prior to [Habibie’s] death, he was happy [knowing] that I would officiate [the unveiling of] his statue in Gorontalo. However, God had a different plan for him; he took his last breath at RSPAD [Gatot Subroto Army Hospital]," Rusli Habibie, the governor of Gorontalo and the former president’s nephew, said.
"It’s only appropriate that his eldest son, Ilham Habibie, should be the one to officiate the [ceremony] for the statue,” he said as quoted by kompas.com.
Habibie passed away on Sept. 11 at the age of 83.
Rusli said that Habibie’s statue, built near the entrance of Djalaluddin Airport, was meant as an homage to the revered figure.
“We realized back then that we didn’t yet have a monument that paid tribute to the country’s third president. So I worked together with the regent, mayor and several local figures to build the statue,” Rusli said.
Ilham thanked the local administration and the people of Gorontalo for paying tribute to his late father through the statue.
The bronze statue was completed earlier this year, costing the local administration a total of Rp 3.6 billion (US$255,814) including the budget for a surrounding park.
Designed by local artist Angga Restu Dinata and sculpted by Yogyakarta-based artists Soewardi and Lutse Morin, the statue depicts Habibie with a smile on his face, clad in traditional Gorontalo attire known as Takowa and holding a model of an airplane in his right hand.
The airplane imagery is a reference to Habibie’s well-known contributions to the local aviation industry.
In 1974, then-president Soeharto persuaded Habibie to return to Indonesia from Germany to spearhead a drive for industrialization. Habibie subsequently served as minister of research and technology for almost 20 years. During this period, Habibie unveiled plans for the first Indonesian-developed airplane, the N250.
Ilham said that, back in the 1970s, the Indonesian public was skeptical about the local aviation industry ever thriving as the government was focused on agrarian reform.
“Now, airplanes are part of basic transportation infrastructure that spans 5,100 kilometers across over 17,000 islands,” he said. (rfa)