Jakarta. At least one hundred clowns marched in Central Jakarta on Wednesday (14/03) to promote peace as the country gears up for what promises to be hotly contested regional and national elections in the next two years.
Indonesia is scheduled to hold regional elections in 171 constituencies in June and legislative and presidential elections next year.
The clowns marched in their colorful costumes from Sarinah shopping mall on Jalan Thamrin to the nearby National Monument (Monas), screaming out their messages of peace and giving away balloons to people in the street.
At least 60 police officers were deployed to ensure the clowns could march safely to Monas.
"We want to greet the people of Jakarta and give them our messages of peace. Anyone who wants a balloon can have one," Sumarsono, the head of the Indonesian Clown Artist Association (Pasbi), told the Jakarta Globe.
He said the association will also hold its own election this year to choose a new clown leader.
"We'll have our election right after this march, we can't wait," Sumarsono said.
He said the clown association has at least 500 members all over the country, most of them do their clowning part-time.
"Most clowns still have day jobs. Only a few can be full-time clowns. We're paying for this march out of our own pocket," the father of three said.
Pasbi is planning to launch a website to make it easier for people to hire the clowns' services for birthdays and other events. "Clowns will never die. We will never go away. Every child needs a clown," Sumarsono said.
The 54-year-old also urged Indonesians to stop using the derogatory term "badut politik" ("political clowns"), especially during the upcoming election years, since it's insulting to the clowns.
"I get angry whenever people use that term, 'political clown'. Clowns are not evil," Sumarsono said as he walks back to the nearby Jakarta city council office where he works as an expert staff.