Jakarta flood victims unhappy over minister’s remarks:
We’re smiling, but who says we’re happy?

February 11, 2007

NDONESIAN Coordinating Minister for the People’s Welfare Aburizal Bakrie is under fire from flood victims in the country for making what they feel was an insensitive and politically incorrect remark.
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Residents carry their belongings through a flooded Jakarta street last Saturday. But are those smiles of happiness? — REUTERS

The minister was quoted by the media last Tuesday as saying that coverage of the floods was ‘exaggerated’.

‘We see that victims are still laughing,’ he said to a television journalist. ‘Don’t make it as if we’re facing doomsday, like what we see on your station.’

That’s because some press photos of victims show that not all are crying.

Many reacted the next day, saying that not crying did not mean that they were happy, The Jakarta Post reported.

Though floodwaters had receded by then, thousands across Jakarta were still busy cleaning mud and debris from their homes and trying to recover their belongings.

”Nobody affected by a disaster can really laugh,’ said Mr Badar, a resident of central Jakarta. ‘We might be laughing because we are trading jokes among us, but believe me, we are not laughing because we are happy with the conditions.
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Mr Aburizal Bakrie

‘How can we really laugh if our houses are under water?’

Another Jakarta resident, Ms Nurjanah, said: ‘There’s a time to laugh and there’s a time to cry. (Despite the portrayal of laughing flood victims), the minister didn’t see that they were crying inside.’

Many people are annoyed at what they see as the government’s sluggish flood relief efforts.

Claiming that Mr Aburizal, the minister in charge of the people’s welfare, did not understand people in their position, another victim, Mr Sutoni said: ‘At least he could show some respect. It is so easy for him as a rich man and as a state official to give away money, which might not even reach the people who really need it.’

Sociologist Imam Prasodjo, however, said the minister could be ‘forgiven’.

Authorities are not only expected to be politically correct, he said, ‘but also psychologically and socially correct.

‘So at least we can forgive them a little over their shortcomings,’ he said.

sumber: http://newpaper.asia1.com.sg/news/story/0,4136,123040,00.html