Tuesday, 01 May, 2012 | 14:13 WIB
Datuk's Statue Pulled Down, Protesters Cite Waste of Public Funds
TEMPO Interactive, Lampung:Controversy surrounding the Zainal Abidin Pagaralam statue in South Lampung is finally over after thousands of people knocked down the 10 meter tall statue on Monday, April 30. Security authorities watched helplessly as the bronze status fell and slammed the ground. “This is the victory of the people. The government has to able to capture the people's inspiration,” said Zailani of National Student League for Democracy (LMND).
The demolition of the statue which consumed a budget of Rp1,5 billion was marked by chaos. Residents ran amok and damaged several government offices. They also blocked the Jalan Lintas Sumatera linking Bandar Lampung and Bakauheni for more than five hours. The security forces fired firing tear gas to the crowds, but instead of dispersing, the masses continued to grow, resulting in riots in Ketapang, Penengahan and Kalianda sub-districts in South Lampung. A dozen of residents and police were injured by rocks thrown from both sides.
The action which at first was participated by around a thousand people from LMND, South Lampung People's Forum, and five South Lampung clans had initially kicked off peacefully. Riots broke out when the masses began frustrated during the dialog with regional parliamentary representatives to which the regent and government officials refused to attend. “They are very arrogant,” said Zuhri, a Ketapang resident who participated in the action.
The mass eventually pulled down the statue of Regent Rycko Menoza's grandfather. The 4 ton-statue's crashing collapse was greeted with cheers by thousands of people who immediately severed the head and sent it to one of the loyal supporters of Regent Rycko.
People's deep hatred against the monument which stood by Jalan Lintas Sumatera was sparked by four issues; first, Zainal Abidin Pagaralam was not a South Lampung hero although he was its first regent, second, the residents viewed the statue as a symbol of nepotism, which was a waste of public money, and last, the statue was positioned at the prayer direction of the Kalianda Grand Mosque disturbing the congregation,” Zuhri explained.
Regent Rycko Menoza regretted the anarchic action of the people. He said his side had already initiated dialogs with activists and Kalianda public figures, but the residents chose to demolish the statue damaging public and government facilities. “I'm sure there were provokers to incite such public fury,” Rycko Menoza said. He hopes that police could nab the masterminds behind the riots. He also plans to approach the locals again to rebuild South Lampung. “We will implement many development activities .” he said. *****