Kiki Astari, Jakarta – Residents of North Jakarta's Tanjung Priok rallied in front of the Law and Human Rights Ministry headquarters demanding Minister Yasonna Laoly to make a public apology after he made a degenerating comparison involving the people living in the area.
Rally coordinator, Kemal Abu Bakar, said Yasonna's statement is greatly demeaning towards the area's residents and demands an apology within the next two days. They said another rally consisting of a bigger crowd would take place if their demands are not met.
"We urge the state-minister to apologize publicly in the presence of mass media," said Kemal.
Yasonna recently issued a controversial statement during his visit to the Class IIA narcotics penitentiary in Jatinegara, Jakarta, on Thursday, January 16. At the time, he maintained that poverty sparks criminal activities.
The PDIP politician made an example of a child born in Tanjung Priok, which is known to be a vulnerable area in Jakarta, to another that is born in the upper-class area of Menteng. He used that analogy to compare the fate that faces the two children growing up.
Representatives of the rally were allowed into the state-ministry headquarters but failed to meet Minister Yasonna Laoly. "We were accepted, but there was no dialogue," said Kemal.
Moreover, another local resident, Dimas, argues that Yasonna's statement could create a stigma against Tanjung Priok. "For example, entrepreneurs reading his statement can be influenced by the stigma when we want to apply for jobs. Stigma will last if not quickly clarified," he said.