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Who Do Tugu Selamat Datang, Patung Dirgantara, and Monumen Pembebasan Irian Jaya Have in Common?

EXPLORE JAKARTA | 26 April 2019

Even with new buildings being developed every day, those who live in Jakarta can still see so many historic landmarks around the city. The National Monument (Monas) and Kota Tua area being the best known.

Close up on the statues in Welcome Monument, Bundaran HI.
Located in the roundabout near Hotel Indonesia Kempinski, not many people know that the statues are called Tugu Selamat Datang or Welcome Monument.
Photo courtesy of Instagram (@firmanyursak)/NOWJAKARTA

However, Tugu Selamat Datang (Welcome Monument), Monumen Pembebasan Irian Jaya (Irian Jaya Liberation Monument) in Central Jakarta and Patung Dirgantara (Dirgantara Statue) in South Jakarta are also worth noticing. What connects them?

Tugu Selamat Datang (Welcome Monument, Bundaran HI, Central Jakarta)

Everyone knows this as  “Bundaran HI” without knowing the name of the statues on top of the huge roundabout. The statues depicting a man and a woman raising their hands and the woman holding a bucket of flowers are called Tugu Selamat Datang or Welcome Monument.

The monument was built as a part of the preparation of the IV Asian Games in 1962 hosted here in the capital city of Indonesia. Sukarno had the idea to build a monument to welcome foreign delegates. Henk Ngantung was the designer and the sculptor was Edhi Sunarso. The monument was inaugurated in 17 August 1962.

Located in a strategic area, Bundaran HI and the Welcome Monument are surrounded by premium hotels, the business and entertainment areas.

Patung Pembebasan Irian Jaya (Irian Jaya Liberation Monument, Lapangan Banteng, Central Jakarta)

Irian Jaya Liberation Monument as seen from behind.
Irian Jaya Liberation Monument is now popular as a hangout place for various communities.
Photo courtesy of Instagram (@nancoachilles)/NOWJAKARTA

The western part of Papua has a complicated history. The then new country Indonesia claimed that the area belongs to them but the former coloniser the Netherlands did not want to let the land go. After many political and physical conflicts between the two countries, Indonesia received the right to claim the land after the New York Agreement in 1962. Shortly after that, Sukarno asked Edhi Sunarso to build a monument as a remembrance of this huge achievement. In 1963, the statue was completed.

In 2018, the Lapangan Banteng area in which the Irian Jaya Liberation Monument is located underwent a massive renovation. Today, a wide range of communities utilise this area for their own purposes.

Patung Dirgantara (Dirgantara Statue, Pancoran, South Jakarta)

Patung Dirgantara as seen from above with the traffic below.
People trapped in the awful traffic around Jalan MT Haryono and Jalan Gatot Subroto can always see this tall monument.
Photo courtesy of Instagram (@firmanyursak)/NOWJAKARTA

Located in the intersection between Jalan MT Haryono and Jalan Gatot Subroto, this monument is a sight to enjoy for those trapped in the common awful traffic around the area. This monument is part of Sukarno's idea to build the nation soon after the declaration of independence in 1945, along with two other monuments mentioned above. He intended to show the world that Indonesia is ready to not only make a move in the world, even in the sky if needed.

The statue was constructed by Edhi Sunarso in 1964 and completed in 1966. The Pancoran area was chosen to put this monument to welcome guests coming from Halim Perdanakusuma Airport. 

As you have probably noticed, all of these popular Jakarta landmarks were all built by one same person, Edhi Sunarso (1932-2016). He was an eminent sculptor who had a strong relationship with Sukarno. The first Indonesian president directly chose Edhi to build those monuments. 

Edhi Sunarno spent his life creating and teaching art. He was once a lecturer at Yogyakarta National University and Indonesian Institute of Arts, both located in Yogyakarta. In 2016, he died from a heart attack suffered during an operation.