News / Asia

Indonesian Politician Grabs New Headlines by Banning Monkey Business

FILE - A trained monkey jumps through a hoop during a Topeng Monyet (Monkey Mask) show, a traditional Indonesian street performance, in east Jakarta.
FILE - A trained monkey jumps through a hoop during a Topeng Monyet (Monkey Mask) show, a traditional Indonesian street performance, in east Jakarta.
Reuters
On the congested streets of Indonesia's capital, chained monkeys are a surreal sideshow. Some ride tiny bicycles wearing baby doll masks or shake people's hands for small change.
 
Not for much longer.
 
Jakarta Governor Joko Widodo has banned all such entertainment, reinforcing his image as a can-do politician cleaning up one of Asia's most frenetic cities ahead of presidential elections next year in which voters expect him to run.
 
Widodo has criticized the shows as animal abuse and an unwelcome distraction for motorists who slow their cars to gawk at macaques outfitted in skirts, cowboy hats or plastic baby doll heads that cover their faces.
 
The ban, which comes into force at the end of the year, is an unusual departure from the big, bold initiatives Widodo has pushed through in his first year as governor. Nevertheless, it has received the same widespread praise from Jakarta's 10 million residents, many of whom are desperate to see tangible improvements in their daily lives.
 
“Voter expectations are relatively low in Indonesia, and low expectations are easily met,” said Douglas Ramage, political analyst at consultancy Bower Group Asia. “So when any government is perceived to be trying something, they get enormous credit for it.”
 
Widodo's popularity has surged since he took office in October 2012. Polls place him as the frontrunner in next year's presidential election if he decides to run.
 
For now, the 52-year-old governor, known widely as Jokowi, has shrugged off questions over his political ambitions, saying he is focused on Jakarta's biggest problems: poor infrastructure, rampant corruption and abject poverty.
 
His biggest headline-grabbing initiatives include the start of construction on a long-delayed subway system, the relocation of hundreds of illegal street vendors to ease traffic congestion, and the dredging of reservoirs to prevent flooding.
 
Widodo's administration is quick to highlight that even though the governor may take on smaller initiatives like the monkey ban, it doesn't mean his priorities have changed.
 
“The issue of monkey buskers is just a small one but it needs to be addressed simultaneously with the big problems,” said Eko Hariadi, a spokesman for the Jakarta administration.
 
Police last week started to raid neighborhoods and confiscate the monkeys, which animal rights groups have long said were being mistreated by their handlers - they say the animals are tortured to remain obedient and their teeth are pulled so they can't bite.
 
Widodo said he will compensate monkey owners and the animals will receive proper care before being sent to a zoo.
 
But this means little for Agus Supriyanto, 21, and the other monkey buskers who don't actually own the animals but rent them. They will not receive any compensation. The former snack food vendor had been able to make up to 150,000 rupiah ($13.62) a day entertaining motorists and pedestrians.
 
But Supriyanto remains a Widodo supporter.
 
“It's ok if Jokowi wants to ban the monkey buskers in Jakarta,” he told Reuters. “[The governor] is good, there are a lot of differences and changes in Jakarta right now.”

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid