Jakarta’s Priority is Monkeys, Not Children

Little beggars are having tough lives with a monkey in Kuningan, Jakarta.

Little beggars are having tough lives with a monkey in Kuningan, Jakarta.

Today I am a little serious about what Jakarta is doing. According to an Indonesian English paper, The Governor Joko Widodo (Jokowi) is eager to protect monkeys, but shows less passion for helping street children. I would like to raise a question about the move.

Jakarta Globe’s article published on Oct 21st, City Set to Free Masked Monkeys, says that Jakarta is going to eliminate topeng monyet, or masked monkey performances, to save exploited monkeys by cruel tamer. That is a follow-up of Jakarta Ramps-Up Efforts to End Masked Monkey Performances on Oct 19th.

The greatest improvement of newer one is the clear perspective of the writer. Deti Mega Purnamasari questioned whether helping monkeys with putting struggling street children aside was correct or not. The article itself didn’t focus on the issue. I guess it was because of Jokowi’s ability to catch journalists’ hearts. He should be the hero and almost no one has said bad things at him.

I, personally, cannot stop saying “what are you doing, Jakarta!” My point is simple: Children before monkeys.

The monkey show is not actually a performance, but just a begging strategy. The lovely friend with a long tail is exploited and I also believe the current situation should be improved.

However, dozens times more children are also exploited by poor or bad adults. Rumor says there are syndicates forcing kids to get money from people and when I work around streets I often see guys hiding behind child beggars. It is possible that they are poor parents, too. Whatever, children are used as tools.

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Time to leave..

The greatest concern of me is the possibility of worsening exploited kids’ life by just getting rid of monkeys. Who can say that the guys who used to have monkeys is not going to use alternatives? You know what, the most likely candidates are kids.

I would like to know the definition of topeng monyet for Jokowi. Some monkeys are trained well and can do several performances, but there are also lazy mascot-ish ones. The latter sometimes collaborate with street children to collect money. Does Jakarta literally mean monkeys wearing masks?

Monkeys with the creepy masks call pities and photographers love to take photos, including me. In my view, the concern of the governor is mainly on international image. According to Jakarta Globe, Jokowi said, “the exploitation of monkeys for performances has become an international issue and the city administration will act immediately to save them.”

I cannot clearly remember, but this year a pic showing a chained monkey wearing a mask got an award as one of the best journalistic photos. Is it the reason?

I believe it is far better to allocate the budget to help and educate street children. Jakarta is helping them with smart card, but does Jokowi know there are many children who do stop begging money although they can live properly without doing it?

If the disease of monkeys are the problem, the easiest way is to execute them. To buy monkeys from owners, preparing for havens for them and train former-owners to get new jobs—how much will you use for getting more popularity, Mr. Jakarta?


Kota Tua 078

Street Children in Jakarta

2 thoughts on “Jakarta’s Priority is Monkeys, Not Children

  1. Pingback: Jakarta Says No To Dancing Monkey Shows | Care2 Causes

  2. Pingback: No More ‘Monkey Business’ in Jakarta · Global Voices

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