Sat, 31 May 2003

Sutiyoso to release his own deer in Monas

Bambang Nurbianto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Governor Sutiyoso will have to donate some of his personal deer to realize his wish to see the animals roam freely in the National Monument (Monas) park.

The governor's deer are scheduled to be released in Monas on Monday, after the State Secretariat failed to issue a permit to relocate 10 deer from the Bogor Palace to the park, as had been the original plan.

A consultant to the city administration's deer project, Hadi S. Alikodra, said on Thursday the governor would donate five does from his house in Cibubur, East Jakarta. Another five deer will be donated by the National Intelligence Agency (BIN).

Alikodra said BIN has promised two does and three bucks, which will be taken from the BIN park in Kalibata, South Jakarta, which is home to hundreds of deer.

The deer zone in Monas Park will be officially opened by President Megawati Soekarnoputri on June 5, in accordance with World Environment Day.

City Hall spokesman Ahyat M. Awe said that during the ceremony on June 5, the President also was scheduled to officiate at the unveiling of a "walk of fame" -- a monument containing imprints of the soles of feet of former presidents, former Jakarta governors and distinguished persons.

All surviving former Jakarta governors and presidents, except Soeharto, will be invited to the ceremony.

"Soeharto is not invited because he is ill," Ahyat said.

Sutiyoso hit upon the idea of releasing deer in Monas park following the completion of the controversial project to erect a fence around the park, at the cost of Rp 9 billion (more than US$1 million).

The deer project has been questioned by many people, who fear a crowded area like Monas is not a suitable home for deer. Sutiyoso has ignored the critics, saying the plan has been approved by experts.

Alikodra, an expert on the Javan ox at the Bogor Agriculture Institute, was hired by the city administration to coordinate the team tasked with preparing for the release of the deer in the park.

Alikodra corrected an earlier statement that he had obtained a permit from the State Secretariat to relocate 10 deer from the Bogor Palace to Monas park.

He did not explain why the permit had not been issued, but stressed that the State Secretariat has agreed to the relocation of the deer.

He also would not comment whether the failure to issue a permit had anything to do with a dispute between the city administration and the State Secretariat over the management of the Bung Karno sports stadium.

Alikodra had said earlier that the deer from the Bogor Palace would be released in Monas on May 22.

Five hectares of land, or 5 percent of Monas square, have been prepared for the deer. Some 1.5 hectares of the land has been planted with grass expected to be the food source for the animals, which consume between five kilograms and seven kilograms of grass per day.

Trees have been planted on some 3.2 hectares of the land to provide shelter from both the sun and rain.