Wed, 03 Sep 2003

'Money better used helping the poor'

Many residents have expressed their objection to the city administration's plan to plate the Arjuna Wijaya statue in bronze, saying it is a waste of money. Although the Rp 4 billion (US$470,588) project will be sponsored by a private bank, people have suggested that the money could be better used. The Jakarta Post talked with some residents on the issue.

Iriantine Karnaya, 53, is a senior sculptor and lecturer at the Jakarta Arts Institute (IKJ). She lives in Kalibata, South Jakarta, with her husband and son:

Plating the statue in bronze is useless, it's not a necessary project. It's only a facelift and a waste of money.

I wonder why the governor doesn't come up with any ideas to make a contemporary statue, which will be appreciated by the public?

As for the fund, it will be better to use it to help the poor.

Or give me the money so I can create a more interesting statue that will involve more people in its creation. Though I'm not rich, I can still raise money to give to the poor through a collaborative statue project like that.

I can't even understand why the governor plans to erect statues of heroes in public spaces. Such statues deserve to be in museums.

As for outdoor statues, they have the characteristic potential of becoming a monument to a country, a landmark.

If only I were the governor, I would create a monument that will attract the people's attention -- a simple statue. It's better than a militaristic statue (such as the Sudirman statue). It will be more communicative and artistic.

However, we must look at the reality in Jakarta. Many people don't have the sense to appreciate a statue, as they are trying hard just to survive. So why do we waste a lot of money for nothing?

Dwi, 23, is a graduate student preparing to complete her Masters Degree in Australia this week. She lives in South Jakarta with her family:

The idea is odd, at least to me. It's unnecessary and a waste of money.

I agree that the money, even though it is provided by a bank, is meaningless as it does not improve the lives of the people.

It's better for both the administration and the sponsor to allocate the fund to provide low-cost apartments for the poor. Many of the city's residents still live in slum areas, including those along the riverbanks.

They may be poor, but they deserve the housing.

The officials should have opened their hearts to the needs of the people. Providing affordable, decent housing for the poor would definitely improve the look of the city, while at the same time, reduce the number of slum areas.

Manan (not his real name), 56, is a soft drink vendor working in Slipi, West Jakarta. He lives in Penjernihan, Central Jakarta, with his family:

The project is only another way for the officials to take the money themselves. I believe the process will not cost that much, maybe Rp 1 billion at most.

Having a sponsor doesn't mean the officials are safe from corruption or embezzlement. The funding is not included in the city budget, so no one can control it, right?

The project's just a front with a marked up price, that's how our officials are.

-- Leo Wahyudi S.