The National, Tuesday June 18th, 2013
By MALUM NALU in Jakarta
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill yesterday paid tribute to Indonesian national heroes with a visit to Kalibata National Heroes Cemetery in south Jakarta.
Kalibata is noteworthy as the location where veterans of the Indonesian National Revolution and other prominent people are buried – including national heroes of Indonesia – roughly the Indonesian equivalent to the United States’ Arlington National Cemetery.
Australia’s Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard have paid visits to lay wreaths at the cemetery.
O’Neill, on a solemn and rainy day in Jakarta, visited the cemetery escorted by Indonesian police and military.
Police cordoned off the notorious Jakarta traffic to make way for O’Neill’s motorcade.
He was accompanied by his wife Lynda Babao, as well as several government ministers and politicians.
Former PNG Defence Force commander and now PNG ambassador to Indonesia, Peter Ilau, told The National in Jakarta that it was fitting that O’Neill visited the cemetery, given its high esteem in Indonesian society.
“That’s a place where all the national heroes, both military and civil, are laid to rest, including their former leaders, political and civil, so it’s quite an important site,” he said.
“The prime minister’s presence this morning to pay respect is a gesture to the country (Indonesia) to honour their heroes.
“It’s a humbling moment on the part of our leaders taking the time to do that.”