Set back from the main street in the grounds of the police headquarters in Blok M, this statue is not very noticeable. That’s a bit of a shame really as the statue, although certainly less impressive than many others in Jakarta, does have an interesting history.
The statue depicts Gajah Mada, the Elephant General, who was around a long while back (1290 – 1364). As was the fashion of the day, the general is barely clothed, looks pretty fierce and is very muscular. He’d definitely feel at home at Kuta Beach, Bali, if he was around today!
As a powerful military leader and mahapatih or prime minister of the Majapahit Empire, Gajah Mada was responsible for Indonesia’s colonizing efforts which encompassed not only modern day Indonesia but also extended to Tumasik (the old name for Singapore) as well as Malaysia, Brunei and the southern Philippines. This is slightly ironic when you think about it, as parts of the Gajah Mada empire were later to be colonised by the Dutch.
The statue stands 17 m high and was made by workers from Jakarta’s Pondok Cina district during the presidency of Indonesia’s first president Soekarno. It was inaugurated on 1 July 1962.