News From Indonesia

Mayor and Islamists Boycott SEA Games Constructions in Palembang

Posted in Blogroll by artemisays on May 20, 2011

Infighting between Pemcot and Pemrov over property constructions for the SEA games has seen several building plans shelved and Islamists lending their objections to a new hospital.

Islamists have joined Pemcot in disputing new constructions already underway inPalembangcity.

They have taken offense to the symbol of a cross on one of these buildings, a Siloam hospital and threatened mass protests if construction continues.

The building plans include the hospital, a mall and an International school by the same property group, Lippo, as well as a new hotel by Swissbell Hotels.

According to an unamed source, there is bitter rivalry between Pemrov, the governor‘s team and Pemcot, the mayor’s team.

Pemrov represents theprovinceofSouth Sumateraand Pemcot, the muncipality ofPalembang, but the two do not see eye to eye and this is jeopardising improvements to the city.

According to a source who wishes to be unnamed, Pemcot was behind threats of a mass protest to boycott the hospital, school and hotel.

Pemcot was willing to use Islamist offence to encourage controversy over the new buildings.

The premise for protests was not only the offensive Christian symbol, but to a lesser extent, Pemcot’s allegations of potential environmental damage caused by the disputed construction projects.

The mass demonstration was set to go ahead if a meeting between Pemrov members and Lippo members as well as a breaking ground ceremony for the hospital were not cancelled.

Both the meeting and breaking ground ceremony did not go ahead and there is yet no news if the suspended projects will continue, despite having already had provincial approval from Pemrov.

Construction has been at a standstill for two weeks now.

Last week the Sumatera Express had “Game Over” splashed across the front page.

The paper explained that the problem from the political side is that the local council under the mayor’s command has not given its approval for these constructions and without that approval it is essentially ‘game over’ for controversial projects.

Fighting between Pemrov and Pemcot has obstructed an opportunity forPalembangto gain necessary investments and improvements in preparation for the SEA Games and the city’s future.

UndevelopedPalembangwas chosen out of many cities acrossIndonesiato host the SEA Games, but with little infrastructure and facilities, it has been struggling to prepare before November and risks losing the right to host the SEA Games at all.

The games will be moved toJakartaifPalembangfails and with one developer already facing corruption charges and the city looking like a building site, it is a tense time for Pemrov and Pemcot.

According to the unnamed source, who is involved with the Lippo property group, the rivalry is impeding the best chancePalembanghas to make crucial changes after 15 years with little development.

“Can we not close the book on internal politics? This is the chance to improvePalembang. Can they not stop their internal bickering for the people ofPalembangand their future? They should remember that they are spending the people’s money, not their personal money,” he said.

Palembangis experiencing a major increase in population that has already stretched infrastructure and facilities in the city.

The new hospital and international school would mean better access to health care and education as well as relieving the city’s old, overcrowded hospitals and providing modern healthcare to athletes and visitors to the SEA Games.

Yet religious conservatives and local government inPalembangare prepared to forgo improvements in facilities and infrastructure that they see as threatening their administrations.

“This hospital is essential. These projects are essential.Palembangneeds this because next year there will be no money coming intoPalembangand the city will stagnate again,” the source said.

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