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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 April 2007, 19:12 GMT 20:12 UK
Jakarta votes for cemetery perk
By Lucy Williamson
BBC News, Jakarta

Flooded graveyard in Jakarta
Some of Jakarta's graveyards were severely flooded in February
Council members in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, have passed new laws to reward government officials with free burial plots in the city.

Plots in Jakarta's crowded cemeteries are expensive, and military veterans and government officials will now be first in line to claim theirs.

Plots at the front with easy access to the road command the highest prices.

These sought-after spaces will be allocated to government officials and military veterans, despite opposition.

Some cemeteries and funeral parlours have voluntarily given free services to high-ranking civil servants in the past.

But this is the first time the practice has been formalised and not everyone in the capital is pleased about it.

Many poorer people in the city say this is not fair.

We have to sell our possessions to give our family members a decent burial
Jakarta resident
"I'm against it because it will raise prices and have everyone scrambling for the remaining plots," said one local resident.

"The plots at the back are already prone to flooding and land erosion," she said.

"My sister's grave was swept away two months after she was buried.

"My husband's plot cost me a month's salary, now we'll have to pay even higher prices for plots like these."

Celebrity graves

Another local resident said he believed the move would make the plots more expensive for everyone.

"Officials are already wealthy. They shouldn't get plots for free," he said.

"What about us? We have to sell our possessions to give our family members a decent burial."

Although most plots will be for the military and government officials, celebrities can also be considered.

Space at the back of Jakarta's cemeteries is already renowned as being crowded, cramped and chaotic.

Jakartans say there is no room for vehicles and they have to pick their way through mud and around freshly dug plots to lay flowers on family graves.

Jakarta's public figures could be forgiven for thinking free burial space might end up bringing them more resentment than reward.

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