Wed, 17 May 2000

Independence Day to be marked in low-key style

JAKARTA (JP): The country's major national commemoration, Independence Day on Aug. 17, will not be marked by a lavish ceremony at Merdeka Palace this year to cut costs.

Acting State Secretary Bondan Gunawan said the toning down of the ceremony was partly aimed at cutting the "extravagant costs" attached to holding such a grand ceremony.

Bondan defended the decision by saying that at previous commemorations at Merdeka Palace, it was the president who became the center of attention, rather than those who sacrificed themselves fighting for Indonesia's independence.

"It was the people who won independence, so it is not necessary for the president to be at the center of the commemoration," Bondan said.

The most likely venue for the commemoration is now the Proclamation Monument on Jl. Proklamasi, Central Jakarta, where Sukarno and Mohammad Hatta proclaimed Indonesia's independence in 1945.

"We are considering the possibility of holding the commemoration there," Bondan said.

Several traditional elements of the ceremony will be eliminated, such as school choir performances and national flag- hoisting regiments of youths representing the provinces.

"We are not going to give souvenirs or role model awards for professions and will invite less guests," Bondan said.

But despite the cost-cutting measures, Bondan said the president would still hold a state reception and medal ceremony.

"We hope everyone will respect a moment of silence at the Independence Proclamation monument to show their gratitude to God for granting us our independence," he added without saying whether the state reception would also be subject to thrift. (dja)