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Jakarta forgets woes for a day, celebrates birthday JAKARTA - Tens of thousands of cheering Indonesians lined the streets of Jakarta Sunday, putting aside their daily toil to mark the 475th birthday of one of Asia's most crowded capitals with parades and dancing. Hundreds of colorful floats passed through the city's main thoroughfares, normally clogged by traffic jams, with trucks shaped like boats and fish carrying people in traditional dress. "Living in Jakarta is tough and a struggle. But I didn't want my children to miss this," said Amir Basri, a carpenter, as his two young boys gesticulated at dozens of freshly painted Mini Minors from a local car club passing by.
Even ambulances and fire engines, their sirens blaring, joined in the two-hour long parade which stretched several kilometers (miles) along key streets lined with people. One of the biggest cheers was reserved for a float carrying a man dressed in a white military uniform and sporting dark sunglasses in honor of former President Sukarno, Indonesia's founding father, who is still revered by many Indonesians despite his mercurial leadership of the giant archipelago. His daughter, Megawati Sukarnoputri, has been in power almost a year but has disappointed many with her low-key rule.
Home to more than 10 million people, sprawling Jakarta is one of Asia's most polluted and crowded cities. Its problems were compounded by the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, which gutted Indonesia's economy and threw millions out of work across the country. Crime rates have since risen in Jakarta, while the rusting hulks of unfinished buildings still scar the low-lying capital. Annual flooding also causes misery in the port city. Earlier this year torrential rains triggered floods that brought the normally bustling city to a standstill for days.



Posted in General @ 23 June 2002 00:01 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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