Thu, 10 May 2001

'Tugu Tani' a hero statue, not farmers statue: History book

JAKARTA (JP): The construction of the statue of a pair of farmers Tugu Tani which stands at the junction in Kwitang, Central Jakarta was related to Indonesia's claim of West Irian, not the communist movement in the country, a book reveals.

It is said in the book, published by the City Museum and Restoration Agency, that the statue which depicts a pair of farmers was originally named the Hero Statue.

Anticommunist groups have threatened to destroy it, claiming it represents communist ideology.

The book said that first president Sukarno wanted a statue that was able to describe the country's hard-won struggle for West Irian, which was under the Dutch administration until 1963.

In his visit to the Soviet Union in the late 1950s, Sukarno was impressed by statues in Moscow. He then invited Russian sculptors Matvei Manizer and his son Otto Manizer to build the statue he would dedicate to Indonesia's fight for West Irian.

Prior to the statue's construction, the sculptors visited several places in Indonesia and were inspired by a story in Sundanese folklore. The story was about a mother who allowed her son to go to war.

Made of bronze, the three-meter statue stands on a four-meter wall. It portrays a farmer, who holds a gun in his arm and a pistol in his waist, and a women who offers a meal to the man.

A plank attached to the statue's base reads: "Hanja Bangsa Jang Menghargai Pahlawan-Pahlawannja Jang Dapat Mendjadi Bangsa Jang Besar. Sukarno. (A big nation is one that respects its heroes).

Sukarno unveiled the statue in 1963.

The statue is surrounded by a park which is currently being repaired by the city's park agency.

According to the book, the statue was placed in Kwitang because of its proximity to the marines headquarters. The marines played a pivotal role in the fight for West Irian.

It is also near the office of Gerakan Pemuda Islam (Islamic Youth Movement), a member of the Anticommunist Alliance (AAK), which threatened to destroy the statue. (jun)