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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More