During a recent visit to Bali, the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, was bombarded with complaints from Bali's wood carvers who cited growing difficulties of obtaining the wood supplies that form the core element of their craft.
Minister Wacik was greeted with a barrage of criticism from local carvers during a visit on Tuesday, March 10, 2009, to inaugurate the Association of Artisans from the Village of Mas Grhaya Krya Kencana at Mas, a wood-carving center near Ubud. Also on the receiving end of the protests was the Regent of Gianyar, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, who accompanied the Minister at the ceremony.
I Wayan Muka, a village leader from Mas, quoted in Bali Post, said, "on behalf of the people of Mas, who are 100% dependent on statue carving for our livelihoods, we hope the central government will help us resolve the shortage of wood."
Craftsmen used the visit of the Minister and Bupati to also deliver their complaints regarding a desperate need for capital to develop their handicraft industry. The Mas carvers cited the need for money to expand their carving enterprise and undertake professional promotional activities together with training in business management. Muka added, "we hope the government can provide training in professional management skills."
The Gianyar Bupati, Tjokorda, calmly greeted the demands from the Mas residents, indicating that his office would try to coordinate a solution with the central government based on information that roots of trees harvested in Kalimantan forestry industry were being abandoned. Tjokorda told the people of Mas, "hopefully, we can quickly resolve this problem and the wood being thrown away in Kalimantan can be recycled with the help of the national government."
When Tjokorda called for a part of Bali's tourism promotion budget be used to promote handicraft production in Mas his statement received enthusiastic applause from the many carvers in attendance.
Minister Wacik, who is also a candidate for legislative office, pledged his readiness to work on helping to the people of Mas find more wood resources. He called on local artisans and the Bupati to seek more information on the location of tree root systems being thrown away so he can contact the Minister of Forestry and coordinate their diversion to Bali.
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