The bronze statue, inspired by a childhood photograph of a 10-year-old Barack Obama in shorts with a butterfly perched on an outstretched thumb, was moved on Monday to the nearby school the US president attended as a child.It had been targeted by critics since it was erected in the Jakarta park last December.
Detractors argued that an Indonesian hero should have been honoured instead, noting that Mr Obama still could pursue policies that hurt the interests of the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
Mr Obama, whose American mother married an Indonesian after divorcing his Kenyan father, went to school in the capital from 1967 to 1971 and is regarded fondly by most Indonesians.Edi Kusyanto, a teacher at the affluent government-run school Mr Obama attended, said the 43-inch-tall statue would be standing in the school grounds by the time the president visits Jakarta on March 20-22. – 02 Feb 2010
“There is no controversy about the statue being here. Everyone at the school welcomes it,” she said.The statue was erected with private funds raised by the Jakarta-based non-profit group Friends of Obama Foundation.
Ron Mullers, an American living in Jakarta who came up with the idea for the statue and raised money for it, declined to say whether he thought moving it was an over-reaction.
“It’s a beautiful statue and it had become a tourist attraction,” said Mr Mullers. “My feeling is that the park is a place where more Indonesian people can see it.
”But he said he was happy the statue might inspire the school’s students to follow their dreams.Heru Nugroho, who led a Facebook campaign to remove the statue, welcomed the move but added that the decision had taken too long. He said he would now drop court action seeking the statue’s removal.