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Bali News by Bali Update
BALI UPDATE #710 - 19 April 2010

Were Bali Tourism Promotion Funds Stolen?
Press Identifies Bali Tourism Officer I Gusti Ngurah Putu Ambara as Lead Suspect in Misallocation of Promotional Funds.

IB Siwananda, an official from the Denpasar Prosecutor's Office, has confirmed that his office is intensively investigating a case of corruption alleged to have occurred at the Provincial Tourism Office for Bali (Disparda). Facts uncovered by prosecutors to date have allowed the case to be upgraded from research to the classification of full-fledged investigation.

According to Radar Bali, prosecutor are now treating the former section head for promotions at Disparda, I Gusti Ngurah Putu Ambara, as a lead suspect form among the more than ten people prosecutors consider to have information regarding the misuse of Bali's tourism promotion budget.

Radar Bali also expects that more suspects will be named, including former ranking officials at Bali Tourism Office.

When pressed by reporters to reveal the actual amount of money lost and the means used in its corruption, Siwananda refused comment because the details of the investigation remain classified and under the control of the chief of special crime division, Ridwan Kadir.

Information obtained independently by Radar Bali indicate that a total of Rp. 3 billion (US$319,000) was embezzled from tourism promotional budgets allocated for international promotion between 2002-2008.

The stolen funds reportedly originated from Bali's annual budget over the subject years with irregular "double" claims for reimbursement made from both provincial sources and from the central government in Jakarta.

This suspected malfeasance of promotion funds took place during the reign of Gede Nurjaya as the chief of Bali tourism (Kapispard). Ambara's attorney told the press: "The appointment of my client as the chief of promotions was done under the authority of the Kadisparda. In carrying out every activity or duty, my client (Ambara) acted on the orders of the Kadisparda (Nurjaya)."

The attorney also rejected claims of Rp. 3 billion in lost funds, saying investigators have only been reviewing the expenditure of Rp.120 million (US$12,765) used to rent promotion space at a London travel show. Those fund, he insists, came from provincial budgets set aside for tourism promotion.

The lawyer was adamant that if there was any misuse of funds, his client was too lowly placed to have stolen any funds, with approvals and authorizations needed from the Department Chief to draw down the alleged stolen funds.

When news of the malfeasance were first revealed, Bali's governor Made Mangku Pastika was said to be incensed, calling for a thorough public airing as he established a special team to investigate the alleged corruption. Shortly thereafter, Pastika cut the amount allocated for tourism promotion in Bali's budget.

According to DenPost, the results of the independent investigation into the case carried out at the governor's request are expected to be made public in the near future.


Bali Tourism Becoming Less Competitive
World Economic Forum Ranks Bali as 81 out of 133 Countries in Tourism Competitiveness Survey.

Indonesia is ranked the world's third cheapest tourism in terms of hotels, plane tickets and fuel cost after Egypt and Brunei. But, when using other indexes, Indonesia competitiveness suffers resulting in an overall competitiveness ranking of 81 out of 133 countries surveyed by the World Economic Forum (WEF), according to Firmansyah Rahim, the Director General of Destination Development at the Department of Culture and Tourism.

In reviewing the survey results with the press, Firmansyah explained: "From the standpoint of price we are ranked 3rd best, but when seen in its entirety we (Indonesia) ranks at position 81. Meanwhile, the ranking for the ten most competitive tourism destinations are Switzerland, Austria, Germany, France, Canada, Spain, Sweden and the United States, Australia and our neighbor of Singapore."

In 2007 Indonesia ranked 60 among 124 countries and in 2008 Indonesia moved to 80 among 130 countries. "Indeed, the trend this year has been downward and our minimum target is to get back to the last year's ranking," said Firmansyah.

He went on to explain that the WEF rank national tourism competitiveness based on various factors, including regulations, business environment, infrastructure, manpower and natural resources among 73 separate variables of which only 12 variables are directly linked to tourism.

"In order to understand why Indonesian has declined in the competitiveness rankings we need to look at the variables used to compile the survey. In order to improve we need to examine what is being evaluated by the WEF," Firmansyah continued.

The 73 variables used in the survey by WEF are wide-ranging. Within the category of regulations the WEF considers the legality of foreign ownership of businesses by foreigners, intellectual property rights, foreign investment rules, visa regulations and the issues related to open-air access.

In the area of business environment and infrastructure the survey looks at regulations governing the natural environment, CO2 emissions, concentrations of dangerous particulates in the ecosystem, protection of endangered species, safety from terrorist threats and the dependability of police services.

From among the 73 areas included in the survey only 12 fall under the direct control of the Department of Culture and Tourism with 28 more representing shared areas of responsibility with other Departments. The remaining 34 variable are a shared responsibility with people of Indonesia such as public security, friendliness and cleanliness.

At the same forum, a public relations expert, Aselina Endang Trihastuti, underlined the weakness of coordination among the various leaders working within Indonesia's tourism industry. "This weakness also influences the weakness of Indonesian competitiveness with everyone doing their own thing based on their own sectorial egos. If the WEF ranks Indonesia as the third cheapest tourism destination why can't we work for a higher overall ranking?," asked Aselina.

The PR practitioner and academician also bemoaned the lack of coordination and teamwork in Indonesian tourism, made evident in the lack of a working Indonesian Tourism Promotion Board.


Bali Overcomes World Financial Crisis
Bali's Rising Tourism Numbers Help Island Weather Financial Crisis, While Feeding both Growth and Inflation.

Antara, the national news agency, quoted Bali's governor Made Mangku Pastika as complaining that tourism, the backbone of the island's economy, is highly sensitive to rumors and innuendo, particularly in the areas of health and terrorism.

Said Pastika: "Every effort has been made by the provincial government to restore the local economy. What's needed now is to get the real economy rolling through investment and trade."

The governor was speaking during the opening of a National Coordination Meeting on Ways to Control Provincial Inflation held in Kuta.

While enumerating economic measures implemented by his administration, Pastika spoke of the support extended to small and medium-sized enterprises, the creation of new employment opportunities and steps to improve the climate for investment. "We have also guaranteed the availability of facilities for production and marketing of local products, established an international standard of security and safety, and moved to increase the per capita income of the general public," added the governor.

To Bali's credit, Pastika pointed out that Bali had managed to largely escape the effects of the worldwide economic crisis that began in mid-2008. "Bali managed to face down the global financial crisis. One indication of this was a rate of economic growth for the island that was higher than the national inflation rate, " he said, while adding that since March 2009, the rate of inflation in Bali has surpassed the national rates of inflation.

For March 2010 (year-on-year) Bali's inflation rate reached 3.64% which is higher than the corresponding nation-wide inflation rate of 3.43% for the same period.

Continuing his analysis, Pastika said, "the inflation rate keeps apace with the rate of economic growth for Bali. In 2009 the rate of growth in Bali was 5.33%, higher than the national average growth rate of 4.5%."

Bali's somewhat higher rates of inflation, according to the governor, are not divorced from the island's success in the tourism sector. High visitor levels result in higher demand for food commodities.

To meet the high level of demands, Bali is dependent on supply lines from outside that form an essential business connection with the outside world.


Mom, They're Making Eyes at Me
Governor Pastika: Bali Needs 1,000 CCTV to Keep Public Order and Reduce Crime.

In order to create a truly international security system for Bali at least 1,000 new closed-circuit-television cameras (CCTV) need to be installed in strategic locations to permit police to maintain a constant vigil on all corners of the island.

Quoted by the national news agency Antara, governor Made Mangku Pastika said, "the installation of this equipment be introduced in phases and can be controlled from the Operational Center for the Control and Prevention of Disasters (Pusdalops PB) in coordination with the Bali police headquarters." The governor, who is also the former chief of police for Bali, said the installation of 1,000 CCTV cameras be gradually introduced over 3-4 years, as funding becomes available. Adding, "what's more, the time period can be shortened through the active participation of hotels, business and tourism object operators who can install CCTVs in the respective locales."

In the tourism center of Nusa Dua, for example, 68 CCTVs have already been installed, which does not include almost all the large star-rated hotels in Bali that have installed CCTVs. In this way, the governor is optimistic that 1,000 CCTVs can become operation sooner, rather than later, over the next 3-4 years.

Currently the Pusdalops PB maintains a coordinated surveillance of 12 strategic locations in Bali including Kuta, Simpang Siur, Ngurah Rai Airport, the Benoa Port, and Pura Batur in Bangli.


Separate Rules Apply
Bali's Top Traffic Cop Explains Why Enforcing the Law on Convoys of Unregistered, Illegal Big Bikes Might Cause Traffic Accidents.

Beritabali.com reports that Bali police are again pledging they will sweep clean all the unregistered "big" motorcycles traveling on Bali's roadways.

That was the promise made by chief of traffic police for Bali, Wahyu Tri Cahyono, who said that two large motorbikes currently being held by his department will remain in custody until the owners are able to present complete registration documents.

"The owners have yet to present legal ownership certificates for a motorized vehicle," said Cahyono.

The top traffic cop told the press that he has received orders to take firm action against unregistered bikes in Bali. As a result, the traffic police of Denpasar are conducting sweeps against the expensive, large motorbikes. "We are performing road-side sweeps (razia) against big bike in Denpasar," he explained.

Read the Small Print

Cahyono's declaration, however, lacks some degree of both sincerity and firmness of purpose. Apparently only unregistered large motorcycles "discovered" riding independently over the road of Denpasar are targeted for police action. "Those bike traveling alone will be inspected and if their registration is not complete we will confiscate the bikes," he said.

Apparently, unregistered bikes traveling around the island in "official" large convoys, often escorted by police personnel, will be exempt from the tougher certification requirements and the threat of confiscation.

Holding his ground before an incredulous press, Cahyono insisted such concerns were totally irrelevant. The ranking police officer said the sudden stopping of large convoys of big bikes could result in a traffic accident. "If we stop (the bikes) there will be an accident because the big bikes travel quickly which will be dangerous (if they are halted) on the main road, and we'll be blamed for that, too," Cahyono explained.

In the past, Cahyono has publicly expressed his department's reluctance to move against bikes belonging to various "big bike" clubs in Bali who regularly enjoy official police escorts during cross-island tours held to fund community service projects.

Related Articles

[Easy, Easy Rider]

[75% of Older, Large Motorcycles in Bali Illegal]

[Bali's Big Bike Saga Continues]

[Bali Police Pressured to Bring Big Bikes Under Control]


Alarming Increase in Bali Dengue Cases
Bali Now Second Highest Source of Dengue Infections. Denpasar Hit Hardest by Epidemic as New Cases Continue to Grow.

Bali has received the dubious distinction of having the second-highest rate of dengue fever infections nation-wide in Indonesia. In the first three months of 2010, Bali health authorities recorded 2,771 hospitalizations among those falling victim to dengue fever spread through the bite of aedes aegepty mosquito. Of that total, 12 have died from the disease.

A disease that favors urban settings, the highest number of dengue cases have been recorded in Bali's capital city of Denpasar with 1,046 reported cases of which 6 have died.

The head of the Bali Health Department (Kadiskes), Dr. Nyoman Sutedja, told the press that the number of dengue cases in Bali appears to be on the increase. In all of 2009, a total of 4,500 dengue cases were reported, a number that will likely be surpassed in 2010.

The government has undertaken a program of public education and neighborhood fogging in order to help eliminate the nests of infectious mosquitoes.

Sutedja expect the incidence of dengue cases to reach its peak in May.

Sutedja blamed the high number of cases in Denpasar on the rapid development and urbanization of Bali's capital city and poor understanding of the simple hygiene measures that will remove the threat of the disease from every neighborhood.

Major hotels and tourism areas in Bali practice anti-dengue protocols including routine fogging of their premises.


What's the Buzz
Noisy Generators Halt Expansion of South Denpasar Power Plant in Bali.

Radar Bali report that a power plant project being undertaken by state-owned Indonesia Power has come to a halt due to complaints from local residents in the Pesanggaran area of South Denpasar. New generators installed to help alleviated Bali's severe power shortage are said to be so noisy that local residents from Banjar Ambengan and Banjar Pesanggaran near the power plant are unable to sleep.

The vice-chairman of Commission II of the Provincial House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali), IGP Suryanta Putra. Has confirmed that Indonesia Power have only installed the first 30 MW of a total power capacity of 80 MW slated for the Pesanggaran facility.

Local residents claim the new power plant is extremely noisy, so munch so that it is preventing them form getting a good night's sleep. Villagers have, in fact, petitioned their local legislators for relief from the relentless noise pollution.

Efforts by Indonesia Power to reach an appeasement with local residents have come to no avail, as villagers says the power plant is just too noisy.

Putra points out that plans to install sophisticated and noise-reduced Swiss-made generators at the Pesanggaran plant went astray with less expensive and noisier Chinese-made generators being substituted.

The legislator has called on Indonesia Power to resolve the problem in a way that will help fill the critical electrical power deficit in Bali and allow local residents to sleep.

In a related development, DPRD-Bali has finalized its recommendations for the installation of High Tension Power Lines (Sutet) and placed that document before the governor for his signature.

The high power line plan to bring power from Java to Bali passes Gilimanuk and enters Bali, giving wide berth to protected nature areas and the sacred temple of Pura Segara Rupek.


Celebrating Earth Day 2010 in Bali
ROLE Foundation and Rotary Club of Bali Seminyak Join Forces to Help Balinese Women and the Environment.

As part of the world-wide celebrations to mark Earth Day, Bali's ROLE Foundation is holding an open-house event on April 24, 2010 at its 1.5 hectare Eco Learning Park and Center located at Jl. Celagi Nunggul 101, Sawangan, Nusa Dua.

Open to the Public

ROLE is hosting the Earth Day event to celebrate the accomplishments of its staff, acknowledge the generous support of its many sponsors, to give thanks to the community and to inaugurate the Women's School bus recently acquired by the Center. The "Open House Day" will showcase the Eco Learning Center and demonstrate that by working together, Bali can help its future generations.

Joining the ROLE Foundation on the special day will be Rotary Club of Bali Seminyak who have donated the bus used to transport women eager to start the literacy and vocational skill classes. To mark "Earth Day" Rotarians will deliver and handover the bus to the Foundation.

The ROLE Foundation

The ROLE Foundation offers FREE education to illiterate girls and women lacking any formal skills. To assist this cause The Rotary Club of Bali Seminyak raised the funds for a bus that will ease educational access for the women served by the Foundation.

ROLE's motto is "Everyone can play a Role in Creating a World without Poverty and Reviving the Health of the Environment." It aims to achieve this through three main areas of focus: Women's Literacy, Work & Life Skills and a Vocational School that provides education and training for disadvantaged women. A Community Education and Assistance Program offers programs for the entire community that include marine conservation program working local fishing communities.

The free Earth Day event starts at 3:00 pm and runs until late. Hundreds of local children are expected to participate in games intended to share an understanding about critical environmental issues. The day will also feature eco-friendly games for children, information displays at the Marine Center and Renewable Energy Station, food and drinks, entertainment and raffles.

For more information telephone +62-(0)361-8078805.


7 Countries to Participate in Bali Arts Festival
32nd Bali Arts Festival June 12 – July 12, 2010.

Arts Groups from 7 countries have confirmed that they will participate in the 32 Bali Arts Festival (PKB) to take place June 12 – July 12, 2010.

The foreign groups coming to Bali for this year's annual month-long celebration of dance, music and the lively arts have been in communication with the organizers of the event since last year's event.

The seven foreign performing groups that have confirmed attendance at this year's PKB hail from, among others, Japan, India, the U.S.A., and China. More countries are expected to register their participation as the event draws closer. In 2009, 14 groups of foreign performers took stage at the PKB and 18 foreign groups the year before in 2007.

During the one-month festival 180 separate performances will be staged involving an estimated 15,000 artists from every regency of Bali and foreign nations.


Fingerprinting Bali's Visitors
Lines at Airport Expected to Grow as Bali Introduces Fingerprinting of Tourist Visitors.

The Jakarta Globe carries the news that visitors to Bali can now expect yet another delay in the notoriously long lines at customs and immigration at Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport with the introduction of a mandatory fingerprinting for tourist visitors.

The head of immigration's sub directorate for Information-systems, Rohadi Iman Santoso, has announced the new requirement to be introduced at Bali's airport, with subsequent implementation planned at all international gateways in Indonesia.

The fingerprinting, carried out with ink-less electronic fingerprint readers, will only be required for those using short-stay visas. Foreigners who have permanent or temporary stay permits and who have already been fingerprinted in the process of obtaining their residency in Indonesia are exempted from the new requirement. Children under the age of 14 and those traveling on diplomatic passports are also exempted from the requirement.

Rohadi also announced that tourist visitors would also be photographed using a system that completes the process in 2 minutes.

Rohadi acknowledged that the new requirement will add to the delay for those processing through Bali's immigration and customs process. Only 10 of the 23 immigration counters at the airport will be initially equipped with the fingerprint scanner.

The system will be introduced nation-wide by July 2010 with scanners then in place at 21 airports, five seaports and at the border-crossing between Malaysia and Indonesia at Entikong. The trial introduction now underway is fingerprinting visitors arriving in Bali, Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Solo.

The immigration department has apparently seen little need to socialize the new fingerprinting system with Surya Dharma, a spokesman for the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and Ngurah Wijaya, the head of the Bali Tourism Board, claiming no knowledge of the new system.

Biometric screening procedures are already in effect in a number of countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain and the United States.


Bali's Electricity Crisis
May Balinese Live in the Dark, Unable to Obtain a Connection to the Bali's Power Supply.

Bali's severe shortage of electrical power is perhaps best exemplified by the grim statistic that 50,000 requests for new connection and 8.900 requests for increased power capacity remain outstanding and unserved.

Kompas quoted the State Electrical Board (PLN) spokesman, Agung Mastika, who estimates that an additional 200 megawatts of power is needed to bring power to the 50,000 households that remain non-electrified.

Bali's current electrical loading of 562 megawatts originates from power substations at Gilimanuk (130 MW), Pemaron (80 MW), Pesanggaran (152 MW) and via submarine cables bringing power form the Java power grid (200 MW). Whenever Bali's power requirements exceed 520 megawatts brownouts tied to load distribution issues are certain to arise.

Many of those seeking a first-time connection to PLN are Balinese living in simple housing in search of only 900 -1,300 KVA of power to drive basic lighting and small appliances.

Efforts to address Bali's severe power crisis has encountered difficulties on almost every front. A geothermal steam-powered generation system started in Buleleng, North Bali, in 2008 remains plagued by land acquisition problems. Other efforts to add more submarine cables between Java and Bali to connect to high-voltage electrical lines is threading its way through objections raised by those fearful of the environmental impact of installing power lines through Bali's environmentally delicate national park.


Recent Appointments at Bali Hotels
Oberoi Hotels and Amankila Welcome New Members to their Management Teams in Bali.

Oberoi Hotels & Resorts and the Amankila Resort of East Bali have announced the following new executive appointment.

Oberoi Resorts Indonesia

Oberoi Hotels & Resorts Indonesia have announced the appointment of Monica A. Witmer as Assistant Manager Spa.

Monica holds a Bachelor of Science degree in International Hospitality Management from Ecole hτteliθre de Lausanne in Switzerland where, as a part of her studies, she completed a management internship in Chiva-Som Health Resort in Thailand and Resense Spa SA. in Switzerland.

A devoted student of yoga and spa enthusiast, Monica is passionate about creating and managing profitable spa concepts where guests can find harmony and rejuvenate their spirit.

She will be based at The Oberoi, Bali with responsibilities to also oversee spa operations at The Oberoi, Lombok.

Amankila, East Bali

Guy Stanaway has been appointed Executive Chef of Amankila, - one of three Amanresorts in Bali, Indonesia. Armed with a passion for produce, Guy's culinary philosophy is to let good ingredients speak for themselves. He is a staunch advocate of local ingredients in combination with high quality imported goods, seeking to offer menus that reflect the bounty of Bali's agricultural heritage with a focus on fresh, clean flavors.

A native of New Zealand, Guy started his culinary career at various boutique hotels in his native country's South Island. Along the way he garnered several prestigious awards, including the 2003 Nestle Torque d'Or and 2004 South Island Commis Chef of the Year. Guy holds a diploma in Culinary Arts from the Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology.

A passion for travel and desire to broaden his knowledge of new ingredients have led Guy to Europe, where he spent a year based in London and traveled though Spain, Italy and France tasting regional cuisine and absorbing and observing local culinary technique. Back home in New Zealand, Guy put his newly acquired knowledge into practice at The George Hotel as Senior Sous Chef, earning awards including South Island Chef of the Year. He also was a member of the New Zealand culinary team participating in various competitions held in Western Australia.

Following a brief assignment in Sydney at Becasse, Guy joined Amanresorts as Executive Chef of Amanbagh in Rajasthan, India, prior to his most recent move to Bali.


The Importance of Being Ernest Hemingway
Bar Luna Lit Club Launches Monthly Meeting of the Literati in Ubud, Bali on April 29, 2010.

As part of a continuing series of year-long literary events organized by the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival the last Thursday evening of each month has been set aside for gatherings of the "Bar Luna Lit Club."

On the designated evening at 8:30 pm, lovers of the written and spoken word will gather at Bar Luna on Jalan Gootama in Ubud to explore a pre-declared theme before an open mike.

The evenings are certain to inspire laughter and reflection born of a zany, no holds barred atmosphere.

Join the literati on Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 8:30 pm at the "Bar Luna Lit Club" when the microphone turns its attention to April theme of "The Importance of Being Ernest Hemingway" at Bar Luna – Jalan Gootama, Ubud, Bali,

For more Information telephone ++62=(0)361-971832.


We Get Mail
Badly Behaved Australia Tourists, balidiscovery.com's Call to the Governor to Delay Changes in Foreign Property Ownership Rules, Higher Liquor Taxes and Clemency for Schapelle Corby Filled our Email Inbox over the Past Few Weeks.



Bali Update and www.balidiscovery.com readers were busy contributing thoughts, comments and reactions to articles.

Here's a sampling from our mailbag.

Criticism from some quarters on the behavior of a minority of Australian tourist [Louts, Bogans and Yobbos Not Welcome in Bali] pushed many to write in.

• Helen from Australia said:

"We totally agree with these comments. Last year we visited Bali and accidentally drove down a street in Kuta at night and were appalled at the young male and female tourists behaving so badly, we were totally shocked and embarrassed to call ourselves ‘Australian.'"

• Diane Hesse had this to say:

" I totally agree! So often I am embarrassed and want to apologize for these insensitive louts. Even on flights their attire and behavior is appalling!"

• Peter Barrett, also from Australia, contributes:

"As an Australian who is a frequent visitor to Bali there have been several occasions where I have cringed with embarrassment over the behavior of fellow Aussie tourists. These idiots are giving us a bad name. They are ignorant people who see Bali simply as a place for them to party on with no regard for the people around them. Their lack of cultural sensitivity is appalling. Bali is an island with a rich cultural heritage and friendly people deserving of our respect. It's a shame there isn't such a thing as a yobbo detector at the airport to screen these types out, whether they be Aussies or any other nationality of tourists."

• Gina Putland voiced her sentiments :

"I so much agree with the way some Aussies act in Bali. I am a regular Business traveler to Bali. There have been times where l did not want to be known that l am Australian. Here in Australia we do not walk around the streets swigging on a beer can or with no top on. We are visitors on their Island, so please respect the Balinese customs and their way of Life."

• Bernard Willette wrote to say :

"Having lived in Bali for already 8 years, I would like to say that (it is) not only the Indonesian-Australian Council is embarrassed with the attitude of some Australians here. I think that the whole community of expats is suffering from the lack of education of those people. How can an owner of a restaurant let people enter without even a T shirt? The answer is that he needs to run a business. Riding a motorbike half naked . . . What can of image the Balinese and the all the other people will have about those people. As an expat and non-Aussie, I don't wish to be associated with those people. On the beach, yes, anywhere else, no."

• Linda wrote :

"I agree wholeheartedly. I am sick of seeing and hearing Bogan's with their abysmal behavior. It's an embarrassment to be a fellow countryman. The hotel we stayed at in Legian had a lot of bogans staying there who spoilt everyone else's holiday for those staying in the same hotel. Please stay at home if you cannot be reasonably behaved and respect the people and culture of the country you are visiting."

• Larry Price emailed from Australia :

" So, what's new. I've been to Bali 9 times and nothing's changed."

A survey from Bali's Udayana University suggests Indonesian tourist get second class treatment in their own country when visiting Bali. [Are Indonesian Tourists Getting Short Shrift in Bali?].

• Here's what Suzanna van Noort writing from the Netherlands had this to say"

"I traveled to Bali last year and the taxi driver from the airport didn't say a word, not even smile...was it because I am an Indonesian and not a tourist ? The same thing also at hotels, they give better services and better rooms to foreign tourists, but not to local tourists / Indonesians. Please treat domestic tourists the same as you serve foreign tourists!

Our editorial calling on Bali's Governor Made Pastika to call a moratorium on any changes to the rules on foreign land ownership [Governor Pastika: Time to call a 'Time Out'] precipitated a flood of emails.

• Diane Hesse wrote :

"Please send support for this consideration. Too many rice fields are being built on too many pools and too much exploitation of the Balinese. The culture here is precious and in so many ways more important than investment and ownership!"

• Charlotte emailing from Indonesia succinctly added:

"Think it over - for your grandchildren, Pak Pastika."

• Terje Nilsen who works in the property field in Bali observed:

"As a Property company we very much agree with this idea coming from you, its seriously important that the long term impacts is considered and that the Balinese community does have a strong say, short term this may turn into social issues a little further down the road, as well as a further destruction of Balinese Culture, the very core of why are all so attracted to Bali. I have a book written by eco tourism specialist Arild Molstad, title of book is: ‘Were Should We Travel Before it's to Late', one of the places is Bali...."

• Ross Macfarlane said :

"It seems to me that foreign ownership is not the issue. The problem is lack of an effective planning system that rejects buildings and developments that are not in harmony with beautiful Bali. It seems to me that some retrospective examination of the rules and the forced demolition of the worst cases of abuse would soon focus the minds of greedy developers hoping to buy their way around the rules with a bag of money."

• Lawrie Price in Australia added :

"I just hope that Governor Pastika can stop this terrible change of policy. The land rats will ruin Bali!"

• Bruce Wyder said :

"I think it would be a disaster if foreign ownership was allowed in Bali and the rest of Indonesia. I once considered buying under the present regulations, but when I saw where the development was taking place in the middle of a rice paddy I changed my mind as I did not want to be part of the degradation of Bali. Foreign developers are greedy and will do anything to make money. They have no regard for the culture of Bali, the people of Bali, nor the agriculture of Bali. They also tend to forget that water is already in short supply, along with the possible shortage of electricity."

• Graham James from Bali contributed :

"Spot on. Watch Canggu suffer the fate of Seminyak when the green belt was lifted. Then you had someone put a 3 meter road into a rice field, build a modest house and one year later the rice field was filled with other houses, the 3 meter road was the only way in, no drainage, electricity sucked and a slum created. That's the future of Canggu. If it stops, that is (if) the Building Permit Dept of the provincial Government is mothballed, then the island can recover, established roads get repaired, electricity and water supplies are upgraded, hotels filled and life become a lot less frenetic. Sorry to say, it ain't gonna happen. Thanks anyway to voices such as Bali Update for pushing for what we all want: to regain the 'old' Bali.'"

• Ronald A. Smith wrote in to say:

Although I generally agree with you, I am not convinced that issues such as pollution of the rivers and beach erosion can be blamed heavily on foreigners. The other issues you raise are more of the government failing to enforce regulations or enact appropriate measures. II believe the real intent of the changes to ownership laws are for individual ownership as residences and not for commercial purposes. To me the solution is ownership requires occupancy/residency on the property and subleasing or renting of such property would be illegal."

• Christian Fritz who lives in Bali said:

" I was under the understanding that the new property laws are more or less a clear lease structure and no hak milik titles at all. This in my opinion would rather be beneficial than the abuse of lacking regulations allowing nominee agreements, which is actually worse than a clear structured long term lease of 70 or 99 years. At least the land would go back to the original family after the lease duration. With the nominee agreement structure it is lost to 3rd party Indonesians legally and to foreigners for sure, without ever going back to the original owners. . . So maybe we have to wait for the actual implementation draft of the law."

Our coverage on higher alcohol taxes in Bali [Bali Tourism Will Suffer form Higher Alcohol Taxes] drove some to drink and others to write in. Among the latter:

• Kim Silander wrote:

"There is a high probability that the result of this will increase the consumption of potentially lethal black market alcohol, that has either been smuggled into the country or has been made locally without any governmental control."

"It can be argued if increased alcohol prices at all will reduce the overall alcohol consumption or only impact the official sales statistics whilst the unofficial consumption increases? Indonesia should turn to some of the Scandinavian countries such as Sweden and Finland to see how a change of alcohol policies, as a result of their entry to the European Union, have impacted these countries. Both Finland and Sweden sell alcohol through government owned stores and have in past decade substantially reduced the alcohol tax and increased the quota for alcohol import for travelers."

"In fact, this has reduced the amount of black market alcohol and poisonous illegal distillation plants in both Sweden and Finland. This can be compared to Norway that still has a lot of alcohol tax and also alcohol related incidents and smuggling."

"If the government want to control the consumption of alcohol they should rather reduce taxes to eliminate the enormous margins the black market now can enjoy through sale of illegal alcohol. Maybe Indonesia should consider the "Scandinavian model" of a governmental store for alcohol sale and maybe most importantly "educate" people to drink responsibly."


• Bruce Wyder wrote again to say :

"I visit Bali 3-4 times a year; this increase in tax is unjustified. The price of alcohol is already sky high $80 for a regular bottle of Scotch. I will bring a bottle from duty free in future, thus the sale from the bar and the tax is lost. So no one wins!"

Coverage of an appeal for clemency by Schapelle Corby on grounds of mental instability [One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest] brought some stinging comments:

• Barry Ascott wrote:

"Don't worry SBY, Corby didn't respect Indonesian law so why should she expect consideration for clemency. Don't be fooled by the doctor's report."

• Wendy, a New Zealander living in Australia, said:

"Poor Schapelle, find her a nice mental facility in Java, give her the best room they have, buy her some dolls and send the Corby's the account."


 
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