TREE VANDALISM: A 100-year-old banyan tree, which was cut back by
an Islamic youth group Sunday, still stands strong, albeit badly
damaged, near Harmoni Central Busway station in Central Jakarta. (JP/J. Adiguna)
Prodita Sabarini, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Jakarta administration filed a complaint with the Jakarta Police on
Monday afternoon against youth organization United Islam Youth (Persis)
for allegedly cutting down a 100-year-old banyan tree Sunday near
Harmoni Central Busway station in Central Jakarta.
The group defended their action by saying they did it for a cause, that
is, to diminish the misleading belief about it being a sacred tree.
Such a perception could corrupt moral and religious faith, the group
only the tree trunk while all branches were completely removed. They
reportedly did not have the necessary tools to fell the tree.
The complaint was aimed at group leader Zenal Arifin Abu Dhiya for
damaging public property. Police could charge him under Article 170 of
the Criminal Code.
The attack on the city’s tree also angered Governor Sutiyoso who
threatened to ask the group to replace the damaged tree with 10 new
am very disappointed with the incident. The cutting of the tree was
such a stupid act. People of any organization who cut it need to be
told that we protect the tree because of its functional value not
because of superstition,” said Sutiyoso.
The city administration including the Jakarta Transportation Agency had
let the banyan tree stand tall because they thought that the tree could
manage to “find nourishment and exist by itself” despite surrounding
Sutiyoso said that the governor needed to approve the cutting of public trees if more than 10 centimeters were cut.
“We really want to save all trees, except in a situation where it
cannot be avoided. One tree down means that we have to plant 10 trees,”
Meanwhile Jakarta Park Agency head Sarwo Handayani said that the banyan
tree, which is over 100 years old, was priceless in value and
classified as preserved.
“We did not cut down the tree because we need to keep the open green
areas in the city,” she said, adding that open green areas in the city
only amount to 6,000 hectares, which is 3,000 hectares short of the
ideal 9,000 hectares.
The 1997 Environmental Law stipulates that a person willfully damaging
the environment could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of Rp
Separately Persis leader Zenal Arifin Abu Dhiya said that the group
could not tolerate the tree’s existence and reputation for hosting a
spirit superior to a human being.
“Of course I am ready to be held responsible if what we did was
considered criminal,” said Zenal, adding that his group had notified
the administration and asked for a permit before cutting the tree.
However, with or without the permit, Zenal said his group would cut and
remove the whole body of the tree if the community demanded it.
daily reported that Psychic Ki Joko Bodo said that there might be a bad
effect on the tree cutters, such as a deficit in family income.
The psychic said that the promotion of mystical things could have a
good effect on tourism. “Many expatriates are interested in mystical
phenomena,” he said. (03)
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