BALI UPDATE #438 - 31 January 2005
Editorial: Shock and Disgust
WQHT – a New York Radio Station Plumbs New Depths of Human Depravity by Airing a Hip-Hop Song Mocking Tsunami Victims.
"You could hear God laughing / Swim, you bitches, swim"
Explain it any way you wish: Call it the "dumbing down" of modern culture or the gross insensitivity of the "me-me" generation.
No matter how you paint it, recent broadcasts aired on a New York Hip-Hop Radio station completely crossed the line and managed to irrevocably offend a broad cross section of the world who lost fellow countrymen, friends and family in the December 26, 2004, earthquake and tsunami disaster.
This is Hard to Believe, Even Harder to Swallow
When we first heard the story – we marked it off to urban legend; too debased and too depraved to ever possibly be true. However, numerous press reports and an eventual apology on the subject radio station's website confirmed our worst fears.
Starting on January 18, 2005, Hot 97 (WQHT/97.1 FM) a New York City radio morning show, hosted by on-air personality Miss Jones, whose real name is Tarsha Nicole Jones, repeatedly broadcast a hip-hop number entitled "The Tsunami Song" - a parody of the 1985 famine relief song "We are the World".
Warning: You Will Find the Following Paragraph Offensive
According to numerous press reports, the so-called "tsunami parody" contained lyrics that included:
And a chorus, sung to the hook chorus of "We are the World" containing:
"So now you're screwed/ It's the Tsunami/ You'd better run, or kiss your ass away/ Go find your mommy, I just saw her float by/ A tree went right through her head/ And now your children will be sold into child slavery."
Our apologies if that offends.
More to the point, our profound sympathies to anyone such rubbish doesn't manage to offend.
Much to the people of New York's credit, the airing of such dribble and rot brought furious reactions. Major advertisers are said to be deserting WQHT like rats from a sinking ship. Politicians are lining up to condemn the broadcast as "reprehensible" – a term we find somehow inadequate to describe a song demeaning Asians, making light of over a quarter million deaths and sport of floating bodies and orphaned children.
Overwhelmed by angry protests, petitions and irate phone calls - the Management of WQHT, a station owned and operated by Emmis Radio, has tried to quell the outroar and distance itself from the whirlwind of protest by suspending the on-air personalities involved and publishing an apology on its official website.
From where we sit, a temporary suspension seems little more than a token wrist slap – failing in any way to address the level of the slur committed by WQHT's on-air staff and management.
Those who guard the bastions of free speech will not be threatened if the allegorical axe is swung and these talking heads start to roll, hopefully never to sit behind a microphone anywhere again.
An Open Invitation
In the world of the Internet, we're certain that Miss Jones and her motley crew will eventually read our humble take on their crass and moronic on-air behavior. When that happens, we hope Miss Jones will take some of the spare time she's suddenly created for herself and jump on a plane to visit the tsunami affected areas of South Asia.
If she can't afford the ticket, we'll start a collection to that end.
If she needs a tour guide, we'll make sure she has the opportunity to walk the devastated streets of Banda Aceh and Meulaboh, where an estimated 230,000 people died.
Perhaps then, Miss Jones, you'll begin to grasp the level of offense you've given by trying to turn an unspeakable tragedy into an object of musical entertainment.
Join the Protest: Let WQHT Know How You Feel
If you share our sense indignation and wish to send WQHT's management and on-air staff a message, forward this editorial to them by using the e-mail forwarding facility and the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fiscal Fee: A Case of Maybe and Maybe Not
Comments on Future of Fiscal Tax from Bali Chamber of Commerce Contradict Recent Statements from Tax Office.
Statements made by the Chairman of the Bali Chamber of Commerce (KADIN), Gede Wiratha on Friday, January 28, 2005 suggesting the fiscal change will be abolished in March seem to contradict statements recently made by the Director General of Taxation and reported on balidiscovery.com
[Fiscal Fee Likely to Stay Through 2005
Quoted in the Indonesian-language Bali Post
, KADIN-Bali Chairman, Gede Wiratha said that following meetings with the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Aburizal Bakrie, in Jakarta he had learned that the fiscal fee charge all Indonesian resident wishing to travel abroad would be abolished in March 2005.
Indonesian's traveling overseas are required to pay a Rp. 1 million (approximately US$108) fiscal tax at airports before boarding international flights. This payment is an advance installment on payroll taxes and can be deducted against future income tax payments.
Maybe and Maybe Not
The comments of the Chairman of the Bali Chamber of Commerce are in contradiction to recent statements by the Director General of Taxation, Hadi Purnomo, who said necessary changes in the tax code made the abolishment of the fiscal charge unlikely anytime in 2005.
Wiratha, in foretelling the change in fiscal policy, said travel abroad should be open to all citizens and any loss in tax revenues would be more than offset by the broader horizons enjoyed by Indonesians suddenly able to travel internationally.
Indonesia as a member of the 10 member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN),
has come under increasing pressure to abolish the tax in order to stimulate inter-regional travel among ASEAN states.
Inna Bali Group Loses 5,000 Room Reservations
Despite Post-Tsunami Cancellations Inna Hotel Group Still Optimistic that 2005 Sales Forecasts will Be Achieved.
The Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia reported on January 24, 2005, that more than 5,000 cancelled room reservations were received by the four Inna Hotels in Bali in the post-tsunami period. The Inna Group is a government-owned hotel network operating hotels in Sanur, Kuta and Nusa Dua.
The President Director of the PT Hotel Indonesia Natour (Inna Group), A.M. Suseto, suggested that the cancelled visitors had been psychologically affected by the disaster and were afraid to visit Indonesia, including Bali. "They were concerned that a similar disaster could occur in Bali, with the government of South Korea even going as far as appealing to its citizens not to travel to Indonesia at this time," he said.
In addition to cancellations from foreign tourist, a large number of domestic tourists planning on celebrating the New Year in Bali also cancelled their trips in large numbers, especially those who usually travel over land and take the sea-ferry between Bali and East Java. Suseto estimated the potential losses to his hotel network at between Rp.1-2 billion (approximately US$108,000 to US$216,000) based on room rates of Rp.200,000 to Rp.400,000 (approximately US$22-44) per night.
Strong Optimism Despite Many Set Backs
However, Suseto expressed optimism that these cancellations would not affect the Group's targeted income for 2005. "We hope that there are no more earthquakes or tsunami in Indonesia, so that we can reach the revenue targets set by the Inna Group for this year," he said. Suseto explained that the un-audited income results for 2004 of his group's hotel network reached Rp.198 billion (approximately US$$21.5 million) with a clear profit of Rp.22 billion (approximately US$2.4 million).
2002 Targets for Inna Group
"This year our targeted income is Rp.216 billion (approximately US$23.5 million) with profit of Rp.27 billion (approximately 2.94 million)," Suseto said.
He went on to explain that despite the profitable performance for 2004 and project positive results for 2005, the group still is struggling to cover the Rp. 30 billion (approximately US$3.3 million) loss incurred in 2003 in the midst of the multi-level crisis of the Bali bombing, Iraqi invasion and SAR's scare.
Star Air's Emergency Landing in Bali
No Injuries Reported as Domestic Flight Experiencing Technical Problems Causes Anxious Moments While Landing in Bali.
Star Air 107 a domestic flight from Surabaya to Kupang made an emergency diversion to Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport on Wednesday, January 26, 2005, when the hydraulic system in the aircraft's nose wheel malfunctioned.
Originally schedule to land in Bali at 9:40 a.m. local time, the aircraft's touch down was delayed for nearly 30 minutes as the pilot tried to remedy a malfunctioning hydraulic system in the aircrafts nose wheel and while emergency vehicles positioned themselves at standby stations along the runway.
The aircraft, which managed to execute a safe landing at 10:07 a.m., was unable to execute turns when seated on the runway requiring tow vehicles to pull it to the airport's apron area.
Once safely on the apron, the 107 passengers on board the flight safely disembarked to wait for a replacement aircraft to carry them to their destination in Kupang, West Timor.
Fire at Inna Grand Bali Beach
No Injuries as Electrical Fault Blamed for Fire in Hotel's Garden Wing Basement.
On Thursday, January 27, 2005, an electrical panel located in the basement of the Inna Grand Bali Beach created smoke and momentary panic for the staff and guest, but no injuries at one of Bali's longest established hotel properties.
While the hotel's internal fire brigade was able to quickly bring any flames under control, lingering smoke billowing onto upper floors of the hotel brought the local Fire Brigade to the scene 30 minutes after the initial report of the fire. In all, 6 fire trucks from Denpasar and one from the Badung station responded to the alarm.
Firemen, when they arrived at the scene, needed to don oxygen masks to penetrate the thick blanket of smoke in the basement area.
The fire, which started at 12:00 noon caused an interruption in electrical service to the hotel. However, power was fully restored by 2:45 p.m..
Fire damage was reportedly limited to the basement area near the faulty electrical panel with limited smoke damage to the upper floors of the Hotel's garden wing.
Memories of 1993 Recalled
Inna Grand Bali Beach, formerly known as The Grand Bali Beach, was largely destroyed by a massive fire that occurred almost 12 years ago to the date, on January 20, 1993. That fire consumed the entire main building and 10 floors of accommodation and was followed by a complete rebuilding and remodeling of the government-owned property.
Introducing the Atisaya Spa
Bali's Sheraton Laguna Re-launches its Popular Spa with a New Look and a New Name.
Sheraton Laguna Nusa Dua has unveiled its newly redesigned Atisaya Spa. "Ati Saya" - meaning "from the heart" in Indonesian, formally opened it doors in late December 2004.
Spread over two levels including verdant garden treatment spaces, the 600 square meter spa and fitness club offers wellness facilities for a relaxing and indulgent experiences. These includes an indoor air-conditioned "state of the art" gym, outdoor Tai Chi, yoga, massage, a Balinese dance pavilion, and indoor and outdoor water experience therapy. Nine treatment rooms, couples suites and villas are complemented by a Chakra Shower, an outdoor garden relaxation courtyard, hair salon, pedicure room, outdoor treatment bale pavilions, and therapeutic treatment pools, therapeutic tropical rainforest showers, reflexology pools, sauna, steam and Jacuzzi.
Wide Range of Treatments
Treatments include traditional Balinese and western concepts in a unique menu using Atisaya Spa private label botanical and essential oil products.
Unique color light therapy during massage or facials is provided via soothing kinetic lighting, the first of its kind in Bali. Different light and color intensity and saturation levels help achieve varying results, such as calm, uplifting, relaxation, rejuvenation, invigoration or stress release.
Worldwide Ambient Vigil for Aceh
Bali Joins a Chain of World-wide Events Held Simultaneously to Support Aceh Relief Raising Rp. 50 Million.
Thinking Globally, Acting Locally
Top local artists in locations as diverse as London, Berlin, Jakarta, Sydney, Tokyo, Taipei, Shanghai, San Francisco and Bali gathered together in their respective cities on a single night and held fund-raising events in support of Aceh relief. An idea initiated by Jakarta-based Future Productions and Wing Project, as a result of these events funds are now being channeled directly into medical supplies and other support requested by doctors working in the field in Aceh.
Worldwide Ambient Vigil for Aceh in Bali
The Ambiessence Worldwide Ambient Vigil for Aceh was held at Prana Villas in Seminyak, Bali on Saturday, January 22, 2005.
The Bali event raise over Rp. 50 million (approximately US$ 5,500) to support medical and food supplies for Aceh tsunami victims. Fund raising activities including raffle prizes and a silent auction, with a prizes and merchandise provided by participating Bali hotels, dive companies, artists, spas and restaurants.
A massage arena, and food and beverage provided by Prana Villas also contributed their sales to the cause.
A fashion market also provided income for the Aceh relief effort, featuring Bali designers such as Runaway Monk, Nafsu, Paul Ropp, Nucleostar, Hikari, Yaari and Quantum Leap.
Global DJ's were on hand, including Ami, Alex, Boots, Billy, Gus, Maka, Emon, Nina and Cozi who played Ambient and Chill music in two arenas surrounded by moving visuals projection. Other entertainment featured a moving poetic tribute by Sylvius, theatrical performer and representative of Eco for the World, accompanied by Andera, - Swiss composer and didgeridoo player extraordinaire.
Football Legend John Barnes in Bali
English Football Great Visits Bali to Raise Funds for Tsunami Relief.
On Sunday, January 16, 2005, English football great - John Barnes spoke and entertained a large crowd in the Bali Hilton's Ballroom, sharing anecdotes and insights into a career spanning two of the most memorable decades of English football history.
Born in Jamaica in 1963, Barnes was discovered playing football in a London park and later signed to play for Waterford FC in 1981. One of the early black players who managed to rise to international football fame, he is perhaps best remembered for managing to beat 5 Brazilian defenders with a brilliant goal scored for England at Rio's Maracana Stadium on June 10, 1984.
He went on to play for 10 years for Liverpool FC who signed him for 900,000 GBP in 1987. A year later, he was named Footballer of the Year by the Sports Writers' Associationof England.
John Barnes' Bali appearance was as the Guest of Honor at a dinner hosted by Bali Hilton International, Indo Sports and Paradise Properties to raise fund for Aceh's tsunami victims.
Relaxed after a lavish three-course dinner served up with copious quantities of wine, Barnes was introduced to the audience by former Liverpool player and now Bali resident, Kenny Latham. Barnes shared highlights of his long football career, spicing his comments with amusing anecdotes involving well known players and managers. He also provided interesting insight into how the lives of players had changed since his days, mainly as a result of media attention.
After his speech a number of items of soccer memorabilia were auctioned off, including one of John Barnes' England caps.
John Barnes now works as a football analyst on television in the U.K..
Symphony of Colors
A Panting Exhibition by Gun Gun at Maya Ubud Resort and Spa.
His almost whimsical, free-flowing style, reflect an eclectic approach to art as well as Gun Gun's development as an artist; alternating between periods as a sculptor, cartoonist and animator. Working in bold strokes that play optical tricks in the eye of the beholder, Ubud-based artists Gun Gun's work only suggests direction and movement via broad strokes that abruptly end, requiring the viewer's mind's eye to "fill in the visual blanks."
Gun Gun's mastery of this distinctive technique is such that his paintings epitomize the axiom "less is more."
Born in the artist's community of Nyuh Kuning, near Ubud, Gun-gun followed the trade of young men from his village, dedicating himself to woodcarving. An avid cartoonist, who regularly submitted his humorous caricatures to local publications, he quickly gathered awards for his work as he completed a course of study at Bali's School of Fine Arts (STSI).
A scholarship to study character design and animation in Japan with Ever Green Film Company in Tokyo came Gun Gun's way in 1990. There, he further developed his skills to the point that his drawing now travel the world immortalized as a series of Indonesian postage stamps.
Symphony of Colors
During a solo-exhibition at Maya Ubud Resort & Spa running from February 8 – March 15, 2005, more 30 works by Gun Gun will be exhibited in an exhibition dubbed "Symphony of Color."
Hey Look Us Over!
100 Japanese Travel Agents and Press On Inspection Visit to Bali.
Approximately 100 travel agency managers and members of the press from Osaka, Japan undertook a quick inspection tour of Bali January 27-30, 2005.
The "educational tour" was sponsored by local hotels, Air Paradise International (API) and Garuda Indonesia Airlines to demonstrate to Japanese travelers that Bali suffered no ill effects from the December 25 earthquake and tsunami which devastated large areas of South Asia.
Simon P. Hasibuan, the Marketing Manager of Air Paradise International said that the tour was needed to demonstrate to the Japanese that Indonesia is an immense country and that a natural disaster in one area does not necessarily mean the other areas, such as Bali, are affected.
Japan remains the largest tourist generating market for Bali with some 326,397 Japanese visitors coming to Bali in 2004 accounting for 22.39 percent of all foreign arrivals.
According to Hasibuan, API saw load factors on their Bali to Osaka route drop to an average 60% from normal levels of 80-90% in the period immediately following the December 26 disaster.
Illegal Transit of Antiques in Bali
Bali Suspected of being Illegal Transit Point for Sale of Valuable Indonesian Artifacts.
As recently reported by the National News Service Antara, Bali is seen as a transit point for the illegal sale of Indonesian artifacts and antiquities to buyers around the world.
The head of the Bali & West Nusa Tenggara branch of the Center for the Conservation of Antiquities, Made Kusumajaya, expressed his suspicions that Bali serves as a transit point for the illegal sale of ancient cultural artifacts from regions such as Java, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and both West and East Nusa Tenggara. "These items," he said, "which are hundreds of years old and should rightfully be protected, are being sold abroad, via Bali."
Mr. Kusumajaya said he suspects that this illegal trade has been on going for many years.
Evidence of this illegal trade can be found in places such as Singapore, where certain galleries openly display Indonesian cultural artifacts, while the sale and purchase of such items is against Indonesian law.
Kusumajaya discounted the explanation that these Indonesian objects have come from the Netherlands, even though during the Dutch colonial period large numbers of cultural relics from across the archipelago were taken there. He added that the ancient artifacts that were taken to Holland in that era are generally now among museum collections, or supporting educational programs at Dutch universities.
Planned Sweep for Indonesian Cultural Artifacts in Bali
The Center for the Conservation of Antiquities, in cooperation with the Bali Police, are planning a sweeping operation targeting galleries in Bali, especially in and around the tourist areas such as Kuta, Sanur and Nusa Dua, suspected of being processing points for the illegal trade. Kusumajaya said that a program of regular raids for the illegal objects and those who trade in such items will soon begin in order to curb any further exportation of Indonesia's ancestral heritage.
In addition to the current crackdown, The Center will also issue guidance to gallery managers and owners encouraging them to take responsibility for the conservation of antiques with historical and cultural value. "We hope that with these kinds of conservation efforts, Indonesia's valuable and ancient cultural objects can be passed down to their rightful heirs in the coming generations," said Kusumajaya.
Keeping Indonesian Skies Price Friendly
Minister calls for Independent Regulatory Agency to Monitor Domestic Air Tariffs.
As reported recently in the Indonesian-language Bali Post, Transportation Minister, Hatta Rajasa, is recommending that the government no longer be solely responsible for regulating flight fares. "We must have an independent regulatory body, comprised of representatives from the government, the public, and the aviation operators," he said, indicating that these three groups of stakeholders all have a right to some guarantee of fairness in setting domestic air fares.
Commenting on the ongoing role of The Trade Competition Monitoring Commission (KPPU), the Minister said that this body has the responsibility of monitoring pricing activities and taking action against unfair tariff manipulation, which can occur due to monopolies, oligopolies, or price dumping. The KPPUis concerned with tariff monitoring and is not presently charged with the responsibility of setting air tariffs.
Indonesian Tariffs Still Relatively High
The Minister said that despite heavy competition in the Indonesian domestic air ticket market, Indonesia's so-called "low cost carriers" are relatively quite expensive, averaging around 5 US cents per seat per flown kilometer, compared to about 2.5 cents netted by discount carriers in neighboring countries, like Malaysia and Singapore.
Explaining that no airline would intentionally sacrifice passenger safety, the Minister said current costs levels have no direct relation to passenger safety. Hatta emphasized that the government maintains a direct hand in civil aviation safety regulation, providing rules and guidelines for flight safety.
In matters of pricing, the government currently only sets limits on maximum, not minimum, fare prices. He stressed that the government has little desire to involve itself in determining prices, preferring to leave that to market forces.
If the Minister's recommendation for the establishment of an independent price regulatory authority for domestic airlines is accepted and if such an agency allows market forces their full reign, domestic air travelers may be able to look forward to continuing access to competitively priced tickets on Indonesian domestic air flights.