Mon, 17 Apr 2000

Administration plans to support Betawi culture

JAKARTA (JP): The city administration has announced it will provide special treatment and support for the Betawi culture in recognition of the adminstration's unique role as a representative of the Betawi culture.

Head of the City Culture Agency Sjahrial said on Saturday that the city administration decided to pay special attention to Betawi culture, which is considered the culture of natives of Jakarta, as no other institution was eligible to perform the duties to maintain such a culture.

Sjahrial said there was no political motive behind the administration's special treatment.

"As the authority of the capital, the Jakarta administration has the obligation to supervise all existing traditional cultures here," he said while addressing the celebration of the 16th anniversary of the Betawi Women's Association (PWB) at the Nyi Ageng Serang building on Jl. Rasuna Said in South Jakarta.

"While non-Betawi cultures in the capital receive twice the supervision, from both the Jakarta administration and the authorities of their places of origin, Betawi culture is only supervised by the Jakarta administration.

"Therefore, we (the city administration) will give more treatment to Betawi culture than other cultures," he added.

He cited that special treatment was given to the Betawi arts, by allowing them the opportunity to be performed at every official function or when the administration received state guests.

He said the city was home to 23 ethnically based arts groups.

Sjahrial also said that the administration's seriousness in promoting Betawi culture was shown in the plan to develop a 150- hectare Betawi cultural reserve in Srengseng Sawah, South Jakarta.

"So, I hope that the Betawi people will make use of the opportunity," he said.

Critics have alleged that Governor Sutiyoso had political motives behind his policy of promoting the Betawi people and their culture.

Sutiyoso, who was the city military commander when the July 27, 1996 riots broke out following the forced takeover of the Indonesian Democratic Party's (PDI) headquarters on Jl. Diponegoro in Central Jakarta, has repeatedly been called on to step down from his governorship over his alleged involvement in the tragedy which resulted in the deaths of at least five people.

Separately, PWB chairwoman Poppy S. Petra said the association fully supported the administration's planned Betawi cultural reserve.

"I don't see any political motives behind the city administration's plan to promote our culture," she said.

"That's why the Betawi Women's Association supports the plan," she added.

The association's 16th anniversary celebration, which was attended by the governor's wife, Rini Sutiyoso, was enlivened by a bazaar, Betawi traditional dress contests and Nasi Begane Ayam, the Betawi version of rice served in a cone shape.

PWB was established in 1984 by scores of Betawi women, with the main objective of improving the life of Betawi women. (ind)