Great leaders always want to leave behind something that the people will remember them by. That’s why Indonesia's first president Sukarno liked building monuments to the revolution, a time when, ironically, idealism took precedence to using public funds to help feed the city’s many poor. Drive around Jakarta today and you’ll see loads of the bloody things. The Welcome Statue near Plaza Indonesia in the city center is supposed to send a message of friendship to foreign visitors, although the “Pizza Man” Statue near Blok M remains an enigma.
Being something of a stud, and with a voracious appetite for beautiful ladies, what would Sukarno want to remembered by? Why, his manhood of course! That’s why he built Monas (the National Monument).
And Sukarno certainly spared no expense in the honorification of his private parts: the monument’s “shaft” is covered with pricey Italian marble – alluding to Casanova? – and stands a lofty 137 meters erect, while, right at the top, the “head” of the monument is covered with 50 kilograms of highly inedible gold leaf. Sukarno was obviously very proud of what he had!
Unfortunately for Sukarno, though, this fabulous monument happened to be his last: he was overthrown shortly after its completion. Oh well, at least he’ll always be remembered. But whether he wanted to be forever known by his “last erection” is anyone’s guess!
Monas as it looked in 1969
And some 41 years later from nearly the same spot
Interesting facts about Monas
- At the base of the monument is a rather nifty museum in which 48 dioramas depicting scenes from prehistory up until the New Order (the last word?) are displayed in a very posh marble-lined room. In another room called the Independence Room you can see the Declaration of Independence. Cool.
- Wanna go to the top? Either use the slow lift or if you are a fan of the world’s newest sport – tower running – just dash up the staircase. The views ain’t what they used to be and are pretty much akin to looking through a steamed-up pair of spectacles because of the city’s horrendous air pollution.
- The large 20x25m pond provides the cool water for the air conditioning system in the monument.
- To the north of Monas, there is a wonderful statue of the Indonesian national hero Prince Diponegoro made by – you’ve guessed it - a foreigner (the Italian sculptor Cobertaldo)!