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Bali News by Bali Update
BALI UPDATE #702 - 22 February 2010

An End to Balinese Boondoggles
Bali's Governor Cuts Overseas Cultural Missions to Promote Tourism.

Bali's Governor Made Mangku Pastika says the promotion of tourism via the sending of delegations on foreign visits is badly out of date, a waste of time and profitable only to those lucky enough to join such international tours.

"This is the era of the Internet. I have asked that the website of the provincial government be repaired and made into a promotional media. There's no need any more for these trips overseas," the Governor told the national news agency Antara.

These conclusions have prompted Bali's governor to drastically cut allocations for international promotional tours, saying his decision is supported by input he has received from Indonesia's ambassadors serving in several foreign capitals.

Said Pastika: "Reports we have received indicate that promotional entourages accompanied by art groups have only served to inconvenience our diplomatic missions. Those who watch the promotional programs are largely comprised of Indonesians living abroad. The participants use most of their time for (personal) touring."

Because of this, the Governor considers the promotion of tourism through the sending of cultural teams abroad to be both ineffective and inefficient; failing to achieve their stated goal to increase the desire of international travelers to come to Bali.

The Governor's resolve has only been strengthened by recent reports indicating the corruption of Rp. 3 billion (US$ 300,000) in tourism promotional funds. "Promotional activities that are ineffective, the misappropriation of funds, and now there are even reports of the corruption through the double debiting of expenses to fund from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism," Pastika bemoaned.

Governor Pastika also admitted that his cut back of international tourism promotional funds are spent has prompted a number of attacks on his leadership, saying: "That's not a problem, they will eventually understand. This is the period of information technology; the reservation of hotels and air tickets is taking place online."

Even though some of the Governor's policies are temporarily unpopular, Pastika remains committed to continue steps to seek savings of public funds in order to address the more pressing needs of the people of Bali.

Through a number of money-saving steps already introduced by the provincial government of Bali, the cash deposits of Bali have increased to Rp. 400 billion (US$42.1 million) while the cost of covering health expenses for the people in 2009 was only Rp. 27 billion (US$2.8 million), an amount that will increase to Rp. 127 billion (US$13.4 million) in 2010. The health coverage program introduced by Governor Pastika has extended free health coverage to all Balinese.

Commenting on his public health program, Pastika said: "Although my intentions are good and aimed at helping the public, many do not like (my policies). I am prepared to be unpopular as long as the programs are right and can benefit the public."

Governor Pastika desires that the hundreds of thousand poor people in Bali, by the end of his tenure in three and one-half years time, can be reduced to 50,000 poor families.

The governor underlined his desire to continue to seek savings in public expenditures in order to be able to fund educational and public welfare programs.


How Bali Tourism Took Flight
Bali Airport Authority Launches Book Covering the History of Ngurah Rai International Airport.

A new book published by PT Angkasa Pura I, the management authority of Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport, traces the history of aviation on the island.

Originally, a 700-meter simple airstrip was built in the early 1930s, the precursor to the current 3,000 meter long runway that handles almost 77,0000 flights and some ten millions of passengers each year.

Bali's airport celebrated its "official" 46th anniversary as an international airport on February 20, 2010. Prior to 1964, the airport, in its earliest incarnation, served round-the-world flights transiting between Asia and Australia, early tourist flight by KLM, Dutch colonial military flights and by Japanese occupation forces during WWII.

2010 will see a massive renovation program commenced that will permit Bali's airport to handle the estimated 17 million passengers expected to visit Bali by 2020.

The book is 150-pages long and is presented in both English and Indonesian.


Open Season in Bali on Blue Colored Birds
Blue Bird Bali Taxi Controversy Escalates.

Demonstrations and demands by competing drivers from Bali taxi operators to withdraw the licenses and close down Bali Taxi (Blue Bird) has evoked a response from the 1,500 Blue Bird drivers who would be affected by such a move.

During a Kompas.com visit to the Blue Bird offices in Bali, Gede Suarta, a representative of the company said any closure of the company would create widespread. "Please consider, this will affect the fate of many," implored the family man who has worked for Blue Bird for more than 10 years.

The 48-year old man continued, "we're very worried - where will we find new work?" Suarta said he prayed that the provincial government of Bali would fight for the future of his company's drivers.

Another driver, Iin Hartini, a woman who has worked at Blue Bird since it started operating in Bali in 1994, shared these sentiments: "If we're closed we'll be unable to work. How will I take care of my family if I am unemployed?" Iin is the mother of four and the grandmother of five.

The 52-year old woman added, "Hopefully this won't happen and we'll be allowed to work as we have in the past."

PT Praja Bali Transportasi or Bali Taxi operates an armada of 750 vehicles that employs 1,500 drivers.

Opposition from the Competition

Meanwhile, Bisnis Bali reports that hundreds of taxi drivers from competing taxi companies staged protests at the Bali Provincial House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali) on Monday, February 15, 2010, demanding that Blue Bird Taxi be closed down for violating the terms of its licenses.

The Chairman of the Circle of Tourism Service Providers (Paguyuban Jasa Wisata Bali), Gusti Made Oka Sukranita, said: "We demand that the provincial House of Representatives (DPRD) fight for our aspiration that the provincial government of Bali revoke the operational license of PT Praaja Bali Taxi, which for 16 years has used the attributes of Blue Bird in their operations."

Sukranita contends that the 750 vehicles operated by Bali Taxi together with plans to operate an additional 250 vehicles will exceed the ideal size of Bali's taxi fleet, which he estimates to presently total 2,800 units.

Speaking on behalf of the demonstrators, Sukranita said: "We hope the government will do the right thing in issuing new licenses in Bali. The number of taxis operating in Bali we consider already to be too many."

Estimates of the breakdown of all taxis now operating in Bali are Ngurah Rai (1,000 vehicles), Komotra (400 vehicles), Wahana (200 vehicles), Kowindu (200 vehicles), Bali Taxi (200) and Praja Bali (750).

The demonstrators at the DPRD engaged in a dialog with local legislators. Unhappy with the response from the law makers, they continued their protest by traveling to the Transportation Office for Bali where they commenced a program of public orations demanding the closure of Bali Praja Transportasi.

The head of the Transportation, Information and Communication Office for Bali, Made Santha, told the protesters that his office will close Blue Bird operations in Bali. This will be done, he said, because the armada of taxi known as Bali Taxi does not hold the correct operational licenses and is in violation of a 2003 decree from the Minister of Transportation.

His office had only issued an operating license to PT Praja Bali Transportasi who have been found to be operating with the identity of Blue Bird on their entire fleet, including the uniforms of their drivers.

Blue Bird Responds

The Vice-President of Blue Bird, Noni Purnomo, denies that any law has been broken. According to Purnomo, Blue Bird and Praja Bali Transportasi operate under a valid cooperation agreement that permits the use of the Blue Bird brand on every vehicle and the uniforms of the drivers.


Bali's Airport Makes List of 12 Ugliest Airports
Travel + Leisure Magazine Names Bali to its List of Least Lovely Airports.

Travel and Leisure Magazine has given Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport the dubious distinction of naming it to its list of the "12 Ugliest Airports in the World."

The Magazine's Karrie Jacobs, contends that Bali's air gateway has "gone out of (its) way to acquire the uncanny placelessness that typifies the modern airport."

Her criticism come amidst demands by Bali legislators and the island's governor to create more Balinese touches and architectural finishes in the course of current modifications to the facility.

Also joining Bali on the list of 12 "ugly airports" are Sofia (Bulgaria), New York's JFK, Washington Dulles, Atlanta Hartsfield, Sheremetyevo International (Moscow), Narita (Tokyo), Linate (Milan), Lynden Pindling International (Nassau, Bahamas), Paris de Gaulle, El Paso International and London Heathrow.

A travel sage once claimed that every airport faithfully represents the destination that lies beyond the terminal. If that is true, Bali's naming to Travel and Leisures' inglorious list should be a matter of real concern to the Bali travel industry.


Getting a Visa to Stand in Line
Long Visa Lines at Bali's Airport Prompt Calls for Urgent Change from Law Makers and Tourism Leaders.

Bisnis Bali reports that despite a total of 26 visa on arrival counters at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport, long delays of as much as two hours are being encountered by those landing during peak traffic hours.

Between the hours of 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm when as many as 1,200 passengers land appears to be the time slot worst affected. Assuming an average of 2.5 minutes to process each visa on arrival and the full operation of 26 visa counters, this translates into lines that can take almost two hours to clear just to complete the visa purchase process.

This calculation of possible delays was put forth by a member of Commission B of the Badung House of Representatives (DPRD-Badung), Wayan Puspanegara, who said: "With this condition, the tourists will certainly be bored. This is like a bad dream, not in keeping with the happiness the tourists seek."

The legislator from the Golkar party also pointed to the small area allocated to issuing visa-on-arrival and the impossibility of adding any more service counters. This may require the widening of visa-on-board to more flights, beyond the current limitation of incoming flights by Garuda from Japan.

Puspanegara also said that other services at Bali's airport were below standard, pointing to the lack of even handedness by Customs officials in dealing with imported goods carried by tourists. He said that the process of passing through customs need not be prolonged for tourist visitors not bringing contraband items into the country.

The over abundance of money changers and the proliferation of travel brochures are also areas of concern.

Visa On Line

Concerned that the long lines at Bali's airport may deter visitors from coming to Bali, the Chairman of the Association of Indonesia Travel Agents (ASITA) for Bali, Al Purwa, called on the government to allow tourists to purchase their visa on line. Pointing to other destinations which have extended such a service to visitors, such as Cambodia, Purwa has written to Bali's governor, the chief of Bali Tourism Service and the General Manager of Bali's Airport Authority requesting that his visa-oin-line proposal receive serious consideration.


Bali's Shrinking Rice Bowl
750 Hectares of Agricultural Land Lost Each Year in Bali as Island Agrarian Culture Fades into Oblivion.

The national news agency Antara reports that agricultural lands in Bali continue to diminish, shrinking the amount of arable land by 750 hectares every year.

Dr. I Wayan Windia, a Professor from the Agriculture Faculty of Bali's Udayana University says, "rapid development, particularly in the tourism sector, is causing an unavoidable change of function for agricultural lands."

According to this leading academic, the alteration of land use is posing a threat to Bali's agriculture-based culture, creating a downside for the preservation of Balinese culture in the current rapid pace of development.

"If the traditional ‘subak' system of agriculture is destroyed, then our agrarian culture can also be destroyed. This is an automatic consequence of our failure to defend our agricultural self-sufficiency," he explained.

Professor Windia explained that in Bali's long history the philosophy of Tri Hita Kirana, which emphasizes the maintenance of a balance between members of society, the environment and belief in the Almighty, has been an integral part of Balinese daily life and the operation of the subak system. He also believes that the role of the subak is extremely important in the island's agricultural system and cannot be replaced by any other institution.

"Based on the principles of Tri Hita Karana reflected in our rice growing agriculture, the subak plays a key part in food self sufficiency while at the same time preserving our environment," said Windia.

The esteemed Professor said that agricultural development in Bali over the coming five years must focus on food self-sufficiency based on production capability, the diversification of crops, organizations and local culture. He also maintains that government policy must promote agricultural businesses able to compete in an increasingly competitive global market.


A Triathlon and a Half in Bali this June
2010 MRA Bali International Triathlon to Include Sprint Race.

The organizers of the 4th Annual MRA Bali International Triathlon have announced that this year's event will offer athletes an opportunity to participate in a sprint distance race.

To be held on June 20, 2010, this year's race will provide athletes the chance to race either an Olympic distance race, (1,500 meter swim, 40 kilometer bike and 10 kilometer run), or a shorter Sprint distance race (500 meter swim, 20 kilometer bike and 5 kilometer run). Sprint distance athletes will begin in a separate wave, commencing within 30 minutes after the start of the main Olympic distance race. The shorter sprint distance will be open to both individual and 3-member team participation.

Both categories will feature trophies handcrafted by Bali's renowned Jenggala Ceramics for each age group category winners, as well as a variety of other fabulous prizes. As in past years, all athletes will receive special t-shirts, finisher's medals, and invitations to attend both a VIP pre-race party a "high carbohydrate" pasta party catered by race sponsor Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran Bay.

The Four Seasons Resort and InterContinental Bali Resort - both located on Jimbaran Bay have combined forces as supporting sponsors of Bali's only annual international triathlon event.

"Our title sponsor, the MRA Group, suggested that we include a Sprint distance this year to increase participation by those athletes who may be attempting a triathlon for the first time, or who are more comfortable racing a shorter distance" said Robb Strom, one of the race organizers. "We loved the idea and recently worked out the details," continued Strom.

The MRA Bali International Triathlon was recently named one of the 100 best races around the world in the March 2010 issue of Triathlete magazine and one of the 10 best vacation triathlons in the world.

Athletes participating in this year's race, as in past races, will come from all over the world to take advantage of this unique destination race. While in Bali, they can partake of a wide range of activities, including scuba diving, elephant riding, white water river rafting, para sailing, and jet skiing. Bali is famous for its spa properties, and athletes will be treated to free post-race massages by local Balinese therapists.

A limited number of discounted hotel rooms and packages for athletes and their families are available through race sponsors Four Seasons Resort and Intercontinental Bali Resort.

Further information concerning these packages and the MRA Bali International Triathlon race can be found at [Bali Triathlon Website].

Event questions and media inquiries can be directed to Brennan Lindner at by e-mailing him at brennan[at]genericevents.com, or by calling him at Generic Events in Los Angeles, California, USA at +011 310-260-7898. Andreas Kansil at Bali Discovery Tours in Bali can be contacted by e-mail at andreas[at]balidiscovery.com, or by telephone at +62-(0)361-286283


Bali Developers Must Keep Their Distance from the Beach
Gianyar Officials in Bali Stop Villa Project Violating the 100 Meter Setback from the High Water Mark Rule.

DenPost reports that many investors building villas and hotels in the Balinese regency of Gianyar are ignoring existing zoning regulations that require a 100 meter setback from the high water mark or local river banks.

The head of Gianyar's Planning Department, IB Nyoman Rai, recently undertook an inspection of the Keramas Beach area together with the local chief of public works, the regency's law chief, economic officer, the sub district head of Blahbatuh and a village leader from Keramas.

Strangely absent from the official tour was a representative from the Coordinated Licensing Office (BPPT), the agency responsible for licensing building projects in Gianyar.

The officials examined an area proposed for a new hotel investment on Keramas beach as well as a number of existing villas in the area.

The officials found a number of buildings standing in violation of the 100-meter setback from the hide-tide mark. One project - Villa Diamond - was told to stop construction when officials found it being built too close to the shoreline.

According to the team of officials setback rules are immutable and must be obeyed.


A Governor's Obsession
Bali's Governor Pastika Shopping to Buy a Hotel for Bali.

After launching programs to provide a free basic education and health care for all Balinese, Governor Made Mangku Pastika has revealed yet another idea in his plan to create Bali into a sustainable tourism destination beneficial to the people of Bali. That idea, if realized, would see the provincial government of Bali and the regency of Badung owning a property in an elite tourist area, such as Nusa Dua or Jimbaran.

As reported by Bali Post, the Governor's desire is prompted by the fact that it is still extremely rare to find a major, starred hotel in Bali owned by Balinese businessman. Most major hotels are owned by business people from areas outside Bali or by international hotel chains. This state of affairs does not please the island's chief executive. In the same vein, Pastika has asked if the Balinese are content to become only room boys, gardeners or security guards at the modern and luxurious hotels that now fill their island.

The governor believes that there are many benefits, both economic and otherwise, to be derived if the government of Bali owned its own hotel. On the economic side, such a business would provide an income stream to the provincial government that will provide direct economic benefits to the Balinese people. Off the balance sheet, Balinese ownership of a major hotel would provide a valuable opportunity to preserve, protect and promote local culture in keeping with the core values of Tri Hita Karana. Tri Hita Karana reflects the Balinese commitment to maintain balance in relationships between all members of society, between man and nature, and between man and the Almighty.

The Governor floated his idea before members of the media at one of his regularly scheduled coffee mornings. In subsequent clarifications from the governor's office, such a project would not necessitate the construction of a new hotel but could be achieved through the acquisition of an existing hotel property.

Funding for a hotel acquisition could be secured via savings in the provincial administrative budget. Streamlining and cost-saving measures introduced by Pastika's administration in 2009 have helped increase deposits held by the province to Rp. 400 billion (US$42 million). Such savings, together with improvements in tax collection, have convinced Pastika that Bali could secure the money needed to buy a 200 + room hotel.

Explaining the Governor idea further, Putu Suardhika who serves as a provincial spokesman said: "Now we get nothing from tourism, because, for the most part, the big hotels and starred hotels are owned by people from outside Bali. With non-Balinese ownership the profits also flow to areas beyond Bali."

Suardhika went on to list the many economic benefits that would flow from the provincial government's ownership of a large hotel, including, dividends that would accrue to the people of Bali, tax revenues and greater employment opportunities for the local population. This is turn would provide more revenue to the province allowing educational and health supports started by the current administration to be widened further.

The governor is seeking support from provincial and regencies House of Representatives for his idea to allow the next step of the actual acquisition of a hotel to take place. The governor's office, however, was quick to point out that they have little desire to actually run a hotel, preferring to leave that to a recognized international hotel brand.


Hotels and Villas in the Guise of Private Homes
Bali Villa Association Wants Villas Built as Private Residences Banned from Commercial Operations.

The Bali Villa Association (BVA) is urging Bali's nine regencies and municipalities to urgently undertake an inventory of the private villas operating in their areas as commercial villas. The BVA's view that there are numerous private villas operating illegally on a commercial basis prompted the call and the accompanying call for a clearly set of rules governing such activities.

Chairman of the BVA, Ismoyo S. Soemarlan, estimates there are more than 1,000 commercial villas in Bali, 25% of which do not have the required permits and licenses. Ismoyo told the press that the illegal villas were built with only private residential building permits (IMB) and not in accordance with the more rigorous requirements for buildings intended to be operated commercially.

Quoted in Beritabali.com, Ismoyo said: "We have already urged the regional government to close these villas because they violate the existing rule. The IMBs (for these villas) have been issued for private residences, but they are being operated as (commercial) villas; this violates the law."

The BVA Chairman told the press that of the 9 regional governments in Bali only Badung has undertaken an inventory of villas operating in their regency.

Of the 1,000 commercial villas estimated to be operating in Bali, 700 are located in the Badung regency.


Bali's Local Lord of the Rings
WBA Champ Chris Johns to Defend Title in Bali on May 22, 2010?

Bali-based World Boxing Association (WBA) champion, Chris Johns, is scheduled to defend his title in a fight in Bali on May 22, 2010, although who will challenge the "Champ" for his title remains a mystery.

Indonesian boxing promoter, Zaenal Thayeb, told DenPost that the matter of payment for the fights has nearly been sorted out, with approximately Rp. 1 billion (US$105,000) set aside for Chris and an amount of between Rp. 400-600 million (US$42,000 - 63,000) allocated for his still-to-be-named opponent.

Thayeb denied reports that American fighter Cornelius Lock is the man slated to fight Chris, labeling such reports as pure speculation and insisting the identity of the man to challenge Indonesia's world champion boxer is still unknown.

Thayeb is assuring the press that the fighter eventually chosen for the Bali fight will be from among the top ten fighters in the ranking of WBA welterweights.

Thayeb also promises a supporting card of six duels populated mostly by Indonesian pugilists.

When asked the entire cost of promoting the fight, Thayeb said he expects to spend between Rp. 6 - 7 billion (US$630,000-736,000). Apparently still scrambling to raise this amount, Thayeb revealed he is still seeking commercial backers as well as lobbying both the local and national government to help back the bout.


90% of Indonesian Museum Not Fit to Visit
Indonesian Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, Declares 2010 'Visit Museum Year.'

Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, says that 90% of Indonesian museums are not fit for tourist to visit.

"The condition of our museums is concerning. 90% are not well managed and are unfit to visit," says Wacik. Because of this, Wacik is calling for more attention to be paid to how the country's museums are managed and operated.

To help focus greater attention on the museum sector, Wacik has declared 2010 as "Visit Museum Year," adding: "At this point in time, 90% of (our) museums are unfit to visit, so I have named this "Visit Museum Year.' That is how we work."

The Minister hopes that persuading more people to visit museums will automatically cause the management of museums to improve. "Let's see what happens next year after this program is completed. I hope that in five year's time all (our) museums will be fit to visit," explained the Culture and Tourism Minister.

Minister Wacik contends that museums must begin to be operated as places to seek inspiration and study, becoming permanent records of the nation's development.

The Ministry has established a program running through 2014 that is intended to improve both the image and the collections of the country's museums. Wacik also concedes that museums are a popular destination for foreign tourists visiting any nation.

Simultaneously with "Visit Museum Year" the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has also launched a national movement of "Love Museums" to enhance the appreciation of museums among the Indonesian general public.


The Mismanagement of Bali Tourism
Bali Tourism Leaders Call for a More Holistic, Inclusive Manner of Managing the Island's Tourism Industry.

Bali activist and academic, Wayan Geriya, says that Bali's tourism industry lacks holistic management. The anthropologist and long-standing observer of tourism on the island made his comments at a gathering of 50 leading tourism figures meeting at the office of Bali's governor.

Quoted in Radar Bali, Geriya said that Bali's tourism is in dire straits because decisions are being made without reference to the carrying capacity and recovery capacity, with too much emphasis being placed on quantity before quality. The results of this approach are inflecting deleterious effects on Bali that are both extreme and long-lasting.

Geriya identifies six basic mistakes that Bali is making in how it manages tourism:

• One Island under a Multi-Management Systems approach.

• An Orientation that Places Quantity Before Quality.

• A failure to synchronize the development of culture and tourism.

• The "so-called" three pillars of Balinese society (i.e. tourism, agriculture and handicrafts) are in decline.

• Bali's international tourism image of unlimited goods is in conflict with the local reality of limited supply.

• Taxes collected from the hotel and restaurant sector are not prioritized for the use of those sectors.

Also speaking at the same gathering of tourism leaders was the Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board, Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya, who complained that the process of policy making by the government fails to include input from the private tourism sector. Citing just one example, Wijaya told of how the visa-on-arrival fee was recently increased without any reference to travel agents who have committed programs a year in advance.

Wijaya said there are many difficult problems being faced by Bali's tourism industry. He pointed to the increase by 1,000% of the tax on ground water wells and the failure of the government to provide a viable solution to the unbearable burden this represents to local hotels. Wijaya continued: "How can the (tourism) industry follow such a rule when the State Water Board (PDAM) is not even able to adequately provide a water supply. This is a very strange situation. We hope the government will consult with us before making decisions and new regulations."

He continued his examination of poor public policy management of Bali tourism, pointing to the lack of adequate electrical supplies, inadequate air access and poor ground transportation problems. Responding to an enthusiastic audience, Wijaya proclaimed: "Just imagine, all we (the travel industry) can do is debate these issues in seminars, while no workable solutions are ever given. You know, we just make noise but no solutions are offered. Look at electricity - what system is appropriate to Bali?"

The day-long seminar invited a number of speakers who evaluated the results of 2009 and proposed steps and plans for 2010.


Bali's Five Ton Elephant in the Gloom
Bali Squares Off with Jakarta Over Island's Refusal to Allow the Importation of More Elephants.

As reported on Balidiscovery.com, Bali's Governor and Legislators have rejected Jakarta's authorization for the importation of 59 additional elephants to add to an existing population of 93 animals. [See: Leave Your Elephant at Bali's Door]

Radar Bali reports that the Indonesian Nature Conservancy Agency (BKSDA) is claiming the provincial government of Bali is not empowered under the law to reject their recommendations.

According to the BKSDA, their agency, acting with the authorization of the Director General of Jungle and Nature Conservancy (PHKA), have the exclusive power to grant permits for the movement of protected species.

Quoted by Radar Bali from a press conference the Bali Chief of the BKSDA, Istanto, said : "So, in fact, the provincial government does not have the right to approve or deny the import (of protected species) to Bali. This authority belongs to the local BKSDA. In the past, the conservation agencies that presents requests (for adding elephants) have complained, asking why they need permission from the provincial government."

Istanto also showed the press a document affirming that zoos and other similar operations are entitled to add to their animal collections drawn from nature or other zoos without the recommendation of regents or local governors. All that's needed, he claims, is to make a request to the Director General of the PHKA. "The provincial government can only provide input and recommendation to the Director General or Minister. They do not have the right to reject," he added.

The BKSDA also pointed out that the elephants used by zoos and conservation groups are animals that have been tamed and trained. He insisted that such elephants are substantially different from wild elephants.

Istanto continued: "The chance of conflict with local residents is very small. The elephants at conservation agencies (e.g., zoos) cannot be equated with wild elephants in their normal environment. This is even more so the case with elephants in conservation agencies that are accompanied by competent ‘mahouts.'"

Istanto, however, did concede that as a result of his personal visit to the Bali Zoo Park his preliminary conclusion is that the Zoo is not yet able to add elephants to its collection. "The physical size of the area for elephants (at the Bali Zoo Park) is only three hectares. Ideally, 10 elephants need an area of one hectare. If they are able to add six more hectares, only then can they get elephants," he explained.

Hold Onto Your Elephants, Hannibal

Bali's House of Representatives (DPRD) has responded angrily to Istanto's public statements, seen to be undercutting their powers. The DPRD has reportedly summoned Istanto to the DPRD to clarify his position.

A member of the Golkar faction from the DPRD, Ida Bagus Kesuma, said Istanto and the BKSDA need to seriously study the concept of Tri Hita Karana - a philosophy that guides the life of the Indonesian people. That concept dictates the necessity of maintaining a balance in relationships between men, between men and nature, and between men and God.

Reminding Istanto in local terms that "wherever man stands upon the earth, the sky also is suspended above," he strongly questioned the BKSDA's contention that the Governor and the DPRD have no right to reject the importation of more elephants to Bali. Continuing and warning the BKSDA, Kesuma, quoted in Radar Bali, said: "So who's in charge in Bali? The BKSDA? We are prepared to back-up the Governor. And we will go all out to reject the elephants and the desires of the BKSDA.

Kesuma, who is a member of Commission III charged with environmental protection, rejected how the BKSDA in Jakarta has presented itself as the only party with the power to decide the controversy regarding the importation of elephants to Bali. Kesuma launched a verbal broadside at the BKSDA saying: "Tomorrow, what animal will they (BKSDA) bring to Bali? Bali is not a natural habitat for elephants. If the governor refuses, it is the same as the people of Bali refusing. I want to hear the BKSDA speak at the House of Representatives. What do they base their study on? Science? Minister's recommendations? And, the Governor has no authority? We want to hear (this) directly from the BKSDA in the House."

Joining the growing conflict, the Chairman of Commission I at the DPRD dealing with permits and licenses, said they also back the governor's refusal of more elephants, questioning the reasons behind the BKSDA's apparent desire to go head-to-head with the island's chief executive.

Backtracking?

When Istanto was summoned last week to meet with local environmental officials in Bali, he supposedly denied ever questioning the Governor's authority in the importation of more elephants.

The Bali Environmental Agency (BLH) has publicly affirmed the governor's right to control the province of Bali and demanded that the BKSDA make a public statement assuring they are not opposed to Governor Pastika's rejection of more elephants.

While local media await a further formal clarification from Istanto, the BKSDA chief in Bali is now denying having ever made statements in the press attributed to him that questioned the governor's authority in the matter.

Poor Mr. Istanto

An article in Radar Bali quotes the provincial spokesman for Bali, Putu Suardhika, as depicting Istanto as a man who both lies publicly and does not understand the law.

In terms that were unusually pointed by local standards, Suardhika presented coverage of recent press conferences in which Istanto was directly quoted undermining the authority of the Governor, statements the BKSDA chief in Bali now denies. Moreover, according to Suardhika, the regional autonomy law of 2007 clearly provides for the provincial government to give its technical recommendations regarding the operation of local zoos.


We Get Mail
The Defacement of Bali, New Tourism Laws, Corruption of Tourism Funds, Blue Bird Taxi and Australian Tourism Statistics Were the Subject of Emails Written to Bali Update and www.balidiscovery.com.

[Editorial: Defacing Bali]

• Danny Machgenzie wrote:

"Thank you for your article "Defacing Bali" and other articles. Thank you for bringing this news, it's really sad to see Bali quickly disappearing this way, soon there will be nothing left! I also have been coming to stay in Canggu and see a lot of horrible development coming up in the past year, are these legal and how can this be stopped? Is the governor aware of how destroyed this Canggu area is as well? Buildings (I heard big hotels & restaurants) are being built so close to the beach and the temple with nothing in accordance to Balinese style."

• Barry Hyland in Australia:

"Jack, unfortunately it's way too late to save Dreamland Beach. I was sickened to see what had been done to this once magical place. It's criminal. I come to Bali once a year, and I always visited Dreamland and had surf there. No longer. What a shame."

• Kate Crellin, Australia:

"I was disgusted last year when I went to Dreamland. It used to be a beautiful spot to visit for the day, but never will I go there again. It was development gone mad."

Craig from Australia:

"Here here! As you said, the picture tells the story so nothing more need be said about the impact. Like you I just hope that someone with some common sense, vision and political will is listening."

• David in East Bali wrote:

"Well done, Bali Discovery. Thank you for putting into succinct terms what many of us would like to say and echo to Bali-philes. I am an expat who chose Bali for my life back in 1993 when beaches were pristine and Balinese people were not enticed to sell their heritage that rightly is for their descendants. Uluwatu was beautiful. No western-style hotels sat on the shores. there was no plastic on the beaches, nor any landslides. Bali was a pristine island, deserving of awards. Now, I am ashamed to see the Uluwatu peninsular. It is looking more like the centre of Bangkok than a paradise beach."

• A Balinese reader, Nyoman Peringatan said:

The C-151, Anatara Uluwatu and the Bupati of Badung should just remember that the 100 meter set back rule is there to protect a public right-of-way. The space from the high tide mark inland to 100 meters land is to separate an area for the common enjoyment of the Balinese (and others) so everyone can enjoy the seafront and conduct religious ceremonies. So, guys, feel free to break the law and build your apartments and hotels. Just don't be shocked when you find my family sitting at your pool or relaxing in your living room enjoying a picnic, flying kites or saying our Melasti prayers. A hundreds meters wide band around the shore of Bali belongs to everyone. If you block it off and build on it, do so at your own risk."

[New Law Proposed for Bali Travel Companies]

• Jimmy Roland of South Bali wrote:

"Sounds great that the Bali government wants to bring in changes with a new law which seeks to bring an end to the practice of ‘buying and selling heads’ in which travel agencies handle guests to unscrupulous operators who then earn a return on their purchase by forcing guest to travel to restaurants and shops paying very high levels of commission. The new law also should curb the use of illegal foreign workers by Bali travel companies. I just find it a bit funny to read about new laws since nobody cares about the existing laws in Bali and the rest of the country. And yes, of course, get rid of the illegal foreigners working here. I wonder how operations in so many businesses would look like without foreigners, even illegal ones. I also would like to ask who is controlling travel agencies and travel related businesses (to see) that those new laws are followed? Because if there is such a ‘watch dog,’ why are all this illegal operations possible?!"

• Colin Anderson in Indonesia wrote:

"Laws, rules, regulations, policies, decrees and edicts are all useless without enforcement. In the words of Blaise Pascal, ‘Force without law is tyranny, and law without force is impotent.’"

[Blue Bird on the Wing]

• Jimmy Roland of Bali wrote, again:

"Blue Bird Taxi is operating in Bali for so many years and suddenly Bali Transportation Officials come up and say that Blue Bird is operating without required licenses and permits. Are you kidding me! May I ask where the Bali Transportation Officials were when Blue Bird started operating in Bali? After all, we are talking here about a big company with a large operation. Now they asking Blue Bird to operate under another name, give up their branding,etc.?!

Isn't it possible that there is another agenda behind this matter. Like jealous competitors. Hmmmhh’


• Bea from Switzerland wrote:

"No way! The only thing that really works in Bali (I've lived there 3 years)! And they want to remove Blue Bird? Or is it just the name that has to go, not the great, clean, punctual, honest, friendly taxis and their drivers? Please try to stop that."

• Jean-Jacques Amella wrote:

"I do not understand the removal of the Blue bird taxi. I have been coming to Bali since 1999 and I am married to an Indonesian Balinese and have family in Jogia, Nusa Dua and Denpasar. I remember the brand being the most trusted taxi in Bali and tourists insisting on using them due to their honesty. Why can't the brand be sold to the present owner and continue to function. The marketing name is invaluable, why get rid of it?"

• An Australian, John Grosvenor wrote:

"I holidays in Bali twice a year as well as spending shorter periods in Jakarta. I first found that Blue Bird in Jakarta were the preferred taxi as they had the newest and cleanest fleet; were more likely to be on time for a booking and were the most courteous.

In Bali, I had an even greater sense of the difference in quality of taxis, with Blue Bird way out in front. The 'local' taxis until recently had no apparent air conditioning, untidy drivers and a bad attitude. When I waited for a Blue Bird to hail, passing local taxis would often stop and give me and the Blue Bird drivers abuse.

Many sites seem to ban Blue Bird from pick ups. I think the Galleria is one and the seafood restaurants on the beach at Jimbaran another.

Let's call a spade a spade. Often the employees of Blue Bird are not Balinese and I guess Blue Bird is not a Balinese company. This appears to be the basis of the moves against Blue Bird.

As a tourist / regular visitor I would like to be able to choose my transport on their ability to give me an honest and courteous ride with a sense that if there is a dispute I can get some resolution.

There are quite a few issues that you raise that interest me, but the issue of taxis is a priority because most tourists see the taxis as an important face of Bali and judge their experience of Bali on the quality of these services . . .Thanks for a fine web site
.

[Indonesian Ranks High for Australian Holiday Makers]

• Jane Milojevic in Sydney offered a correction:

"In actual fact, based of figures from the same source that I believe yours came (the Australian Bureau of Statistics Short term departures of Australian Resident) if you break these figures into purpose of journey and look at those traveling for purpose of holiday, Indonesia ranked as Australia's most popular holiday destination, ahead of NZ and USA. The majority of these holiday makers would have been traveling to Bali. In 2009 - 456,348 Australians traveled to Indonesia on holiday, 455,629 to NZ and 334,130 to USA and Thailand came in at number 4 with 321,384. The Total departures figure in include business travelers and VFR who will be traveling to other parts of Indonesia. As most visitors to Bali are holiday makers, the figures for those traveling on holiday provide a more accurate reflection of where Bali stands in relation to other destinations. And it is NUMBER ONE!


 
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