Obama statue removed from public park

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Authorities removed a statue of Barack Obama from a park in the Indonesian capital Jakarta due to a public backlash and moved it today to a nearby elementary school that the US president attended as a child.

The bronze statue, inspired by a childhood photograph of a 10-year-old Mr Obama in shorts with a butterfly perched on an outstretched thumb, had been targeted by critics since it was erected in the Jakarta park last December.

Detractors argued that an Indonesian hero should have been honoured instead, noting that Mr Obama still could pursue policies that hurt Indonesia's interests.

Mr Obama, whose American mother married an Indonesian after divorcing his Kenyan father, went to school in the capital from 1967 to 1971 and is regarded fondly by most Indonesians.

Edi Kusyanto, a teacher at the affluent government school Mr Obama attended, said the 43-inch statue would be standing in the school grounds by the time the president visits Jakarta from March 20-22.

"There is no controversy about the statue being here. Everyone at the school welcomes it," the teacher said.

The statue was erected with private funds raised by the Jakarta-based nonprofit group Friends of Obama Foundation, but Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo is paying for its relocation.

Ron Mullers, an American living in Jakarta who came up with the idea for the statue and raised money for it, declined to say whether he thought moving it was an overreaction.

"It's a beautiful statue and it had become a tourist attraction," Mr Mullers said.

"My feeling is that the park is a place where more Indonesian people can see it," he said.

Comments