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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid