Jakarta – Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly has apologized for provoking the ire of Tanjung Priok residents in North Jakarta following his negative description of the area.
During a speech at Jatinegara Prison in East Jakarta on Jan. 16, the minister stated that Tanjung Priok was an example of a "slum" as well as the source of all sorts of crime due to poverty.
At the time, Yasonna drew a comparison between children in Menteng, a wealthy neighborhood in Central Jakarta, and children in Tanjung Priok. According to the minister, crime will not occur in Menteng as opposed to slum areas, such as in Tanjung Priok, because people living there "are poor."
His controversial statement apparently angered hundreds of Tanjung Priok residents who flocked to the Law and Human Rights Ministry on Jl. HR Rasuna Said in South Jakarta on Wednesday in protest.
The minister offered his apology later on the same day, saying it was not his intention to offend Tanjung Priok residents.
"Mass media and the public interpreted my words with a different meaning, causing my Tanjung Priok friends to feel offended. Therefore, I would like to deliver my apology," Yasonna said as quoted by kompas.com on Wednesday.
He expressed hope that his apology would settle the matter. "Hopefully after this press conference we will be able to unite our hearts and selves to build this nation," Yasonna said, adding that he promised to make time to visit Tanjung Priok residents. (dpk)