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Humor and Sermons For Road Safety
Wednesday, 21 June, 2017 | 11:20 WIB
Humor and Sermons For Road Safety

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Two stern looking police officers stop two men on a motorbike as if to give them a ticket. But moments later, the officers suddenly break into dance, moving with such verve and enthusiasm, the motorcyclists on their way through Aceh Besar's main road are struck dumb. 

Swinging and jerking to rhythm, the two police sing in unison a song titled Patuhi Peraturan Anti-Pelanggaran (PPAP) or roughly translated: Obey the Rules, Refuse Violations. In contrast to their amusing gyrations, the song's lyrics are deadly serious as they exhort the public to comply with traffic regulations.

The two police, members of the Aceh Besar Traffic Unit, are Brigadier Heri Mulyadi and Brigadier Syuhada Akbar. Heri admitted to actually feeling embarrassed performing the imitation of Piko-Taro, the Japanese comedian whose dance video, Pen Pineapple Apple Pen (PPAP), went viral on Youtube last year. "But what can I do? It was a direct order from my boss," he said, chuckling.

By 'boss' Heri meant Aceh Besar's Traffic Unit chief, Sandy Titah. "Pak Sandy has a great sense of humor, so I understood his order," the 35-year-old man explained, again bursting into laughter. Sandy ordered Syuhada and Heri to mimic the PPAP as part of a traffic education program. So the message spreads far and wide, Sandy uploaded the two officers' video in action on the regency traffic unit's Instagram, and also on his own Youtube channel.

Response went beyond Sandy's expectation. "Within three hours, the video went viral, attracting thousands of viewers," said the 27-year-old traffic unit chief. Instagram users reposted and reposted the video, and people gave comments of appreciation to this wacky initiative of the Aceh Besar Traffic Unit. "It's so rare to see the police having a sense of humor, and using fun videos to educate the public," said Erfan Ramadhani, an Aceh Besar resident.

After the PPAP success, the Aceh Besar Traffic Unit continued with yet another funny video early on this year, a parody titled Four Tactics of Traffic Offenders During Inspection. The video played the amusing reactions of the traffic unit police to offenders' excuses during a road inspection. 

The video exposed the four most common strategies employed by traffic offenders: faking temporary insanity, claiming to themselves being police officers, claiming to being the offspring of a high-ranking police officer, and pretending to be deaf-mute. The video shows the really funny responses of the police to the four strategies, in the end having to nab or book the offenders, anyway. 

In the video PPAD Police Complain to King Salman, Syuhada and Heri lament about stubborn traffic offenders to King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia. According to Sandy Titah, the police capitalized on King Salman's recent visit to Indonesia to ensure the video uploaded last March would go viral quickly.

Wacky packaging to convey road-use education has become the hallmark of Aceh Besar's Traffic Unit. Besides producing parody clips, Sandy and about 50 of his officers also employ other engaging approaches, including producing a film on road safety, busking jazz songs in a number of coffee shops in Aceh Besar, and making appearances in high schools to campaign the program. 

"We want to show the community another side of the police-- that we are not corrupt, we don't take bribery, and we are happy-go-crazy to do good for the country," Sandy said.

Aceh Besar Resort Police Chief superintendent Heru Suprihasto is proud of the initiative. According to Heru, the offbeat approach has proven effective. Since the program began, the rate of traffic accidents has declined by 21 percent, to 112 this month; casualties have decreased by 11 percent and traffic violations have fallen by 9.8 percent. 

Even Heru has contributed a few wacky ideas. "I believe what the Aceh Besar Traffic Unit has done not only improved traffic safety in the area, it also inspired the police force in other regions," he said.

From the outset, Sandy Titah had intended to create some unique programs for the police. He was well aware the public's image of the police was not ideal and there was a huge gap between the police and the community they served. He was also aware that trying to make the Aceh Besar Traffic Unit 'visible' and approachable required some hard work. "That was the risk. Sometimes we just have to stand up and shout to get attention," said the talented winner of the Lampung muli-mekhnai competition of 2008 (a pageant for a young comely male and female to represent their province for a year).

Read more inspiring Outreach stories in Tempo English Weekly Magazine



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