Connect to share and comment
Like other places around the world, Obama is having trouble in his old backyard.
The statue portrays a 10-year-old Obama in shorts and a T-shirt with the Nobel Peace Prize hanging around his neck and a butterfly on his hand. A plaque reads: “The future belongs to those who believe in the power of their dreams.”
But many Indonesians have reacted to the statue in the same way much of the world reacted to the new president receiving a Nobel Peace Prize.
“Obama has done nothing for Indonesia,” said Heru Nugroho, a Jakarta resident who organized a Facebook page demanding the removal of the statue. “We were so quick to worship him. But he hasn’t done anything yet. And what if he makes a decision that is harmful to Indonesia? It would be an embarrassment.”
Nugroho’s page has swelled to more than 60,000 members since the government unveiled the statue at the beginning of December. Conservatives in the United States took notice as well and set up their own Facebook page, which now numbers about 2,000.
Ron Mullers, a member of the Friends of Obama Foundation and a 35-year resident of Indonesia originally from Hawaii, where Obama was born, said he thought the negative reaction to the statue was only from a small group of agitators and didn’t reflect the general mood of the Indonesian public.
“You know, Obama hasn’t visited yet and I think people have started to forget about him. But when he does come here, I think he will be well-received. In fact, I think he will get a hero’s welcome,” he said.
The Indonesian public is easily swayed, says Laksmana, but they will expect something concrete from Obama, something more than just a visit and a trip down memory lane when he visits this summer. Indonesians, Laksmana said, will want to see results.
“They will expect an increase in economic or military assistance or an improvement in the overall relationship,” he said. “For Indonesians to rally around Obama like they did a year ago, they are going to want to see something significant from him.”
(Read an overview of how the world views Obama one year later.)