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Bali News by Bali Update
BALI UPDATE #989 - 17 AUGUST 2015

IN THIS UPDATE


Once Free, Forever Free!
Celebrating 70 Years of Indonesian Independence at the Bali Safari and Marine Park with Family, Friends and Animals

As millions of Indonesians rejoice national independence and 70 years of nation building on Monday, August 17, 2015, the Bali Safari & Marine Park will also be the venue for a variety of traditional games and contests among Safari Park team members, mirroring similar contests underway in villages across the entire nation.

Among the games played at the Park will be “kerpuk” eating contests in which contestants race to eat large and elusive shrimp crackers suspended on strings in mid-air; “Lomba Joged Balon” the local-Balinese version of a balloon race; arm wrestling duels and a unique fiercely contested tug-of-war.

The tug-of-war will be a true “battle of nature” with Park workers pitting their pulling-power against “Si Mandor” – a king-sized Sumatran elephant. The contest was designed as part of Bali Safari & Marine Park’s animal enrichment program created to enliven the daily existence of captive animals. A long-standing favorite form of fun at the Park, the “test of strength” between men versus elephant has been proven to bring out the very best in humor in both its human and the pachydermal participants.

The management of the Bali Safari and Marine Park has also prepared special prizes in the form of electronic gadgets, appliances and other gifts to express appreciation for team members joining the games.

The general manager of the Bali Safari and Marine Park, William Santoso, explained: “Activities such as these are needed to build a sense of belonging among staff members. Competition between team members and the various departments at the Park is not about winning or losing, but more about creating a sense of belonging and fostering teamwork in order to achieve shared goals and enhance the daily work atmosphere and feeling of camaraderie among staff members.”

The highlight of each year’s celebration of Indonesian Independence Day on August 17th at the Bali Safari and Marine Park is the flag-raising ceremony at which Park Workers and a menagerie of snakes, binturongs and macaws all play a key part in honoring the Indonesia national flag of red and white.

Also joining the flag ceremony at the Park will be village officials from the surrounding community and ranking officials from the Regency of Gianyar that serves as home to the Park.

Bali Safari & Marine Park salutes and honors Indonesia, pledging to unite to build a better nations for the coming generations of both the humans and animals that make the Republic their home!

Merdeka! Freeedom!


Bali without a Cop at the Top
For Bali Chief of Police Ronny Sompie Sworn in as Director General of Immigration

The Indonesian Minister for Law and Human Rights, Yasonna Hamonangan Laoly has formally installed Bali’s former Chief of Police, Ronny Frengky Sompie as the new Director General of Immigration for Indonesia.

As quoted by the State News Agency Antara, Minister Laoly said on Monday, August 10. 2015: “We have appointed (Sompie) and sworn him in at the Ministry of Law and Human Rights. We hope the Ministry will continue to progress and provide the best for the nation.”

Ronny Sompie resigned his commission as the two-star general in the Indonesian Police and his post as Chief of Police in Bali to accept the job in the Indonesian Civil Service as the national head of immigration.

The role of Chief of Police for Bali remains vacant, pending the announcement of Sompie’s replacement by General Badrodin Haiti, the Chief of the National Police.

Meanwhile, both the Bali Post and DenPost are speculating that the current head of the public relations division at police headquarters, Anton Charliyan, is favored to be appointed as Bali’s next top cop.

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Donít Profane Baliís Sacred Sites
Opposition Grows in Bali to Tourism Minister to Designate Pura Besakih as a National Strategic Tourism Site

The firm intention of Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism Arief Yahya to place Bali’s Mother Temple of Pura Besakih at Mount Agung under Jakarta’s supervision as a Strategic National Tourism Site (Kawasan Strategis Pariwisata Nasional-KSPN) is the subject of opposition from many quarters in Bali.

As reported by Metrobali.com, some leading members of the Bali-Hindu community are accusing Yahya of failing to appreciate the aspirations of the Island’s majority Hindu population and betraying President Joko Widodo’s commitment that commenced his campaign for high office before 600 Hindu religious leaders in Bali in 2014.

In that meeting, Joko Widodo told his audience that he accepted the desire of the Balinese people to preserve Pura Besakih as a sacred area, in keeping with Bali-Hindu religious tenets and local zoning laws in the Regency of Karangasem.

The chairman of the Sabha Walaka PHDI (Indonesia Hindu Society), Putu Wirata Dwikora, told the press after meeting the Commission II of the Bali House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali) that the desire of the Minister of Tourism to designate Pura Besakih as a KSPN has the potential of embarrassing the President.

Those joining Dwikora at the DPRD-Bali said that Pura Besakih as the Mother Temple of Bali makes any location within 5 kilometers of the temple highly sacred and pure. Those opposed to the Tourism Minister’s desire to change the status of Pura Besakih see such an act as changing the status of the site from a religious shrine to a tourism object open to development of supporting accommodation, sports facilities and tourism other demands that, in their view, would violate the sanctity of the temple.

Moreover, the designation of Pura Besakih as a KSPN would place the Central Government in ultimate control of what is essentially the most sacred shrine of Balinese Hindus.

For these reasons, Putu Wirata Dwikora and a large group of Balinese leaders are calling on the Minister of Tourism to abandon plans to place Pura Besakih in the list of KSPN and maintain its current status as a religiously sacred location.


Sydney to Bali for AU$119
Indonesia AirAsia X to Fly Sydney to Bali Five Times a Week Starting in October 2015

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Indonesia AirAsia X will compete nose-to-nose with Virgin Australia, Jetstar and Garuda Indonesia for passengers traveling between Sydney and Bali.

Commencing in October 2015, Indonesian AirAsia X will fly five times a week non-stop from Sydney to Bali and is expected to offer low fares that will bring even more price pressure on financially-troubles Virgin Australia.

Meanwhile, Virgin Australia has announced that in March of 2016 its services between Bali and Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne will be handed over to its “no-frills” affiliate Tigerair Australia.

Virgin Australia has reserved the option of revisiting plans to maintain the Virgin Australia brand on flights between Bali and Sydney and Brisbane, and potentially turning over those services at a later date to Tigerair Australia.

In announcing the new Sydney to Bali service, Indonesia AirAsia X is offering introductory fares of AU$119 one-way and AU$399 for premium flat bed seats.

Indonesian AirAsia X will fly Airbus A330-300 aircraft with 377 seats on the Sydney to Bali service.

Avoiding mistakes that caused it to delay the launch of its Melbourne to Bali service scheduled for December 26, 2015, Indonesia AirAsia X has reportedly already obtained the all-important regulatory approvals from both the Indonesian and Australian government.


Saving the Lot
Tanah Lot Temple to Triple its Lifeguard Complement

Metrobali.com reports that the iconic destination of the Tanah Lot Temple in West Bali will soon employ an additional 12 trained lifeguards to enhance personal security for visitors.

The move by the management of the Tanah Lot Park area follows several deaths and near drowning by visitors swept off Tanah Lot’s rocky shore.

The assistant manager of the Tanah Lot Park, I Wayan Sudiana, told the press that the tripling of the lifeguard complement from the current 6 now employed is made necessary by the many thousands of tourist visitors who crowd the shoreline at the attraction each day. He said that in the rush to make a picture or “selfie” with the Tanah Lot Temple in the background, many tourists ignore written and verbal warnings and scramble over rocks battered by big waves for the “perfect” shot. As a result, large waves often send tourists and their cameras into the raging surf.

The management of the attraction will employ certified lifeguards and provide supplemental language and guide training to these new hires.

Lifeguard teams at Tanah Lot are also equipped with robber zodiacs and a range of life saving devices.


Bumpy Roads Ahead
Widespread Complaints of Poor Road Conditions in Tabanan Region of Bali

Known for the physical beauty of its beaches and rice terraces, the Regency of Tabanan in West Bali is equally “infamous” for the poor state of its roads deemed inadequate to support the many tourist visitors to the area.

Metrobali.com reports that roads leading to Jatiluwuh, Penebel and Tabanan are riddled with potholes causing discomfort and a threat to the safety of both locals and tourist visitors alike.

One local resident, Nuryawati, complained that the poor condition of roads in Tabanan has not received needed repairs beyond adding patches of limestone and asphalt in the worst holes over the past five years.

Some of the poorest road conditions are encountered by tourist traveling to visit the World Heritage designated locale of the rice terraces at Jatiluwuh.

As a result, tourism operators and local residents are calling on the government to carry out extensive road repairs, including roadside drainage that now regularly overflow and cause further damage to the roadways.


News that Bites
160 People Have Died of Rabies in Bali Between 2008-2015

Tribun-Bali.com reports that the head of the Bali Health Department, I Ketut Suarjaya, calculated that dating form the outbreak of rabies in Bali in 2008 until July 2015, a total of 160 people have died in Bali from rabies.

Over this same period, health officials have attempted to stem the threat posed by rabies through mass inoculation programs, stray dog elimination and the establishment of rabies centers.

Suarjaya told the press that every regency of Bali has sufficient anti-rabies vaccine for bite victims (VAR) to last through the month of August 2015. This, after several recent human deaths of people who were unable to obtain VAR shots following being bitten by dogs.

Surjaya said the current stock of VAR inoculations now stands at 22,113 vials.

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A Problem of Depth Perception
Badung Officials Promise to Check if Ritz Carlton and Kempinski Projects Conform to Local Zoning and Building Codes

Commission II of the Badung House of Representatives (DPRD-Badung) have promised to undertake a survey visit to the Kempinski Hotel project located on the beach at Sawangan, Nusa Dua.

Quoted by DenPost, the chairman of Commission II of the DPRD-Badung, I Nyoman Dirga Yasa, said the meeting to the building site would take place on August 14, 2015.

Continuing coverage of the controversy over the alleged violations by the Kempinski and Ritz-Carlton hotels has been front-page news in the DenPost for several days over the last week.

Also promising to inspect the site is the ad interim regent of Badung, Nyoman Harry Yudha Saka who said he would first research the case to determine the true nature of the complaints.

The local community head for Sawangan (Kaling), Wayan Jabut, told the press that any survey should be carefully coordinated. Jabut said he was unclear what specific regulations the Kempinski and Ritz-Carlton reportedly violated. In mitigation, he said when his office issued recommendations for the two projects this was done without the assistance of an expert in building and zoning issues. He defended those recommendations on the ground that the project will create much needed employment for people living near the hotel.

Separately, the head of the licensing and permit office for Badung (BPPT-Badung), I Made Sutama, said on Tuesday, August 11, 2015 that the construction of the Hotel Kempinski was in accordance with rules and procedures. He said the BPPT was prepared to reveal the permit process for the project accused in the Bali press of violating height, setback and reclamation rules, Sutama said that checks by his team to the project site revealed no violations had taken place.

Continuing, Sutama said the Kempinski Hotel project also met coefficient rules on ratios of developed space to open areas. “The land area is vast, there is no problem,” he said.

He added that while the lay of the land made the Kempinski hotel appear to be taller than the maximum 15 meters height limitation, the building has been surveyed and determined not to be too high.

The defense by Badung building and zoning officials of the Kempinski project stand in sharp contrast to comments by Made Mangku of the Bali Secretariat for the Rescue and Conservation of the Environment (SKPPLH) who has publicly accused the Ritz Carlton and Kempinski projects of violating rules on setback distance from seaside’s and ravines, ignoring height limitations, undertaking illegal reclamation of the adjoining ocean and failing to implement Bali architectural finishes in their architectural plans.

Made Mangku told the press that the current rules for set back from the high water mark for any permanent construction is 100 meters, while the set back from cliffs and ravines is twice the height of the adjoining ravine.

Local rules also stipulate that no building can be taller than 15 meters above ground level, largely interpreted in Bali to be a building of four floors. Made Mangku also reminded that a minimum of 30% of any project must remain undeveloped for green areas.

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The Only Disaster is Not Planning
Grand Nikko Bali Receives Disaster Preparedness Certification

After completing a disaster preparedness training program and an exhaustive audit, Grand Nikko Bali has been awarded a Gold Certificate from the provincial Disaster Mitigation Board on Tuesday, July 28, 2015.

The certificate was presented to the resort’s chief of engineering, Wayan Sudiarsa, who also serves as chairman of the Emergency Measures Committee.

Grand Nikko Bali is one of only five hotels deemed eligible to receive this certification certifying their readiness for a range of potential natural disasters.

The Resort completed its disaster risk assessment on January 15, 2015, followed by a detailed audit conducted by a panel of experts on April 30, 2015. The entire process provided the needed guidance to help Grand Nikko Bali in its ongoing efforts to develop and implement its own internal policies for disaster risk reduction.

"We are extremely proud of this achievement and look forward to continuing to optimize the resort’s internal resources to participate optimally on both a departmental and individual level. This certification is not only a parameter of our preparedness, but also proof of our commitment to support Bali’s vision to be a disaster-ready province,” said Wayan Sudiarsa when receiving the certificate.


Paradise has a Darker Side
Bali Records its 21st Suicide of 2015

The tragic death of a 17-year-old high school student, Made Widiantara, who leaped to his death from the third floor of the Negeri I High School in Buleleng, North Bali on Wednesday, August 12, 2015 has added to a growing list of suicidal deaths in Bali.

According to Tribun-Bali.com, from January until August 2015 authorities report 21 suicides in Bali.

Of those 21 deaths, two have been attributed to leaping from high places, but with suicide by hanging remaining the most preferred form of self-extermination on the Island.

The latest figure, however, may suggest that the rate of suicides in Bali are on the decline. In 2014 Bali recorded 120 deaths by suicide, a figure that compares with 95 suicides in 2013.

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Force Majeure
Chairman of PHRI-Bali: 74,000 Tourists Cancelled Bali Holidays Due to Volcanic Eruptions.

The series of temporary closures and flight cancellation in late July and early August 2015 at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport has cost the Island of Bali visitors during what is traditionally the busiest period of the year.

Quoted by Bisnis Bali, the chairman of the Bali Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI-Bali), Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, said on Thursday, August 13, 2015. that he estimates some 74,000 tourists cancelled their trips to the Island due to the eruption of Mt, Raung in East Java.

Due to passenger cancelling their planned holidays in Bali, Tjokorda says accommodation providers across Bali suffered losses of between 12-15% in average room occupancy.

Sounding a similar conclusion was the chairman of the Kuta Executive Club, Gusti Sutawa, who says hotels in Kuta suffered a decline 10% in their occupancies during the more the two weeklong series of airport closings.

Sutawa, who is also the general manager of the Puri Saron Seminyak, said tourism operators in Bali remain optimistic that business conditions will soon improve and business will be back to normal.


Sanur as a Quality Destination
Denpasar Legislator Wants Low-Price City Hotels Banned from Sanur Beach Area of Bali

A member of Commission II of the Denpasar House of Representatives, I Wayan Suwirya, is urging that low-priced “City Hotel” not be allowed to operate in the tradition tourism area of Sanur village.

Quoted in DenPost and The Bali Post, Suwirya is warning that “City Hotels” have no place in Sanur that has traditionally placed nature and beachside living at the forefront of its tourism product. “Accommodation built must reflect the tourism identity of Sanur and be based on resort hotel models,” he insisted.

The City legislator wants Sanur exempted from the roadside motels or "city hotels" sold at bargain prices now proliferating in other parts of Bali. He also says Sanur should avoid operating nighttime entertainment venues like those found in Kuta and Seminyak.

Suwirya is working to have these concepts incorporated into plans being drafted for tourism development in Denpasar in order that the charm and specific character of Sanur can be preserved in the future..

“Sanur is not for mass tourism focused only on producing a large quantity of tourist arrivals, but must be more concerned with quality tourists,” Suwirya said.

He said that the Sanur area has long been a favorite for European travelers to Bali, and the characteristics that attract this long-staying and relatively high-spending market must be preserved.

For this reason, he warned that the municipal government of Denpasar must not allow “City Hotels” to be built in Sanur.


If I Could Pray with the Animals
Bali X Files: Wild Boars Emerge from Jungle to Greet Balinese Official Praying Near Bali National Park

As reported by DenPost, bystanders and participant at a ceremony of prayers and offerings (pemuspan) at Pura Segara Rupek in Gilimanuk, northwest Bali, were shocked on Thursday, August 14, 2015 when a sounder of wild boars emerged from the nearby jungle and sidled up to the former deputy-regent of Badung, I Made Sudiana.

A religious guardian who spends his days at the temple expressed the wonderment of the large group of bystanders who witnessed the incident. “No only do they (the wild boars) never approach people in this way, they seldom are even seen by the public, wary of humans who often hunt them,” he said.

In the view of the temple’s guardian, the lack of reticence on the part of the wild boars was due to the animals’ appraisal of the former officials as a man "at one" with the natural environment and the animal kingdom. Adding: “Such an occurrence is indeed very rare, even more so at a temple sitting on a highway that requires the animal to cross a highway in search of food.”

The unusual encounter between Sudiana and the animal kingdom set the social media buzzing with commentary and photos of the incident. Many citing the “strange but true” phenomenon as a divine endorsement of Sudiana’s current candidacy to become the next Regent of Badung.

Made Sudiana expressed why the sounder of wild boars would want to come so close to seemingly greet him. Sudiana told the press that the animals showed no fear of him nor did he experience fear at the close proximity of the animals capable of launching a deadly attack,

“There’s no need to presume anything negative; all this is a positive sign,” Sudiana explained.


A Plague of Less than Biblical Proportions
Blister Beetle Dermitis Outbreak Reported in West Bali

An outbreak of paederus littloralis, also know as “tomcat, linear dermatitis” or “blister beetle dermatitis” - and painful skin irritation resulting from contact a species of Paederus rove beetles has affected hundred of people in the village of Kalakah, Negara Bali.

Initially appearing as a rash but sometimes presenting as a painful boil, the non-lethal variant now occurring in Bali is caused by the Paederus beetle that has been scientifically linked to the Ten Plagues of Egypt mentioned in the Book of Exodus.

Initially misdiagnosed by doctors in Negara as a food allergy, and later as herpes zoster – the skin condition was eventually linked to an infestation of multi-colored beetles at the village.

The beetles are descried as attracted to household lights and bite their victims after embedding themselves in bedding material.

Local resident have tried the use of strong insecticides to eliminate the small beetles but with limited results to date.

The medical literature on blister beetle dermatitis suggests that outbreaks tend to be in a limited geographic region and of short duration.

The public is cautioned to keep a distance from the Paederus beetle and not to crush the insect. Secretions from the beetle’s body are the source of skin irritation that often manifests in straight lines on the skin after the insect is crushed and swept away in a single motion, leaving a trail of its harmful secretions in parallel lines across the skin.

Inter-departmental bureaucracy and confusion has thus far thwarted an effective response to the tomcat threat to this new public health threat.

Local health officials maintain they can only treat the victims of blister beetle dermatitis and that any move to eliminate the beetles rests with the Department of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry who have yet to formally acknowledge the threat posed by the insect.


FBI Contingent in Route to Bali
Special FBI Jet Flying to Bali to Meet Former Texas Cop Wanted on Murder Warrant

A group of special agents from U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) is scheduled to land in Bali on Tuesday, August 18, 2015, using a private jet to assume custody of Vontrey Jamal Clark, also known as Trey Clark, wanted in connection with a the murder of 29-year-old Samantha Dean in Texas, USA on February 4, 2015.

Clark is a former policeman in Austin, Texas and Dean was believed to be carrying the policeman’s unborn child at the time of her death.

Fired by the Austin Police Department, Clark left the USA for Indonesian on July 17, 2015.

The former policeman was taken into custody on July 31, 2015, by Bali Police at The Pondok Bali Villa in Canggu at the request of Austin Police and Interpol.

The FBI private jet is scheduled to depart Bali with Clark on board on Wednesday, August 19, 2015 after being formally surrendered by the Bali Police.

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Steal Shoes, Get the Boot
Tajikistani Tourist Arrested for Stealing Shoes at Beachwalk Shopping Center

A tourist from Tajikistan, Kholbekhov (23), is now in police custody in Bali charged with trying to steal a pair of sport shoes from the Toko Planet Sports Shop in the Beachwalk Shopping Complex in Kuta on Monday, August 10, 2015.

Kholibekhov is charges with stealing a pair of shoes worth Rp. 2 million (US$150).

NusaBali reports that the foreign tourist visited the sports shop at 8:30 pm on Monday, August 10, 2015, and left with a pair of shoes taken from the shop without paying.

Police were called to the shop where CCTV footage showed the Tajikistani tourist stealing the shoes.

Two days after the theft, the man walked past the same store and was spotted by an employee who summoned police who subsequently arrested Kholbekhov.


Dwelling Time Also a Problem in Bali
Bali Airport and Sea Ports Also Prey to Corrupt Officials Who Delay the Movements of Imported Goods

Against the background of complaints made by President Joko Widodo about corruption and prolonged dwelling time for ships trying discharging cargo at Indonesian ports and the subsequent arrest of high-ranking port officials in Jakarta, the chairman of the Association of Indonesian Entrepreneurs in Bali (APINDO-Bali), Panudiana Kuhn, told the Bali Post that the corruption surround the movement of ships and goods through Indonesian ports is nothing new and continues to disrupt business, even in more remote area like Bali.

Welcoming the new initiatives by the President to reduce rampant corruption at Indonesian sea and airports. Panudiana Kuhn, tried to give some perspective on the severity of the current situation, saying: “Dwelling time of five to six days is complete nonsense. It should only take a day (to discharge a ship), as is the case in Singapore, This is indeed the nature of the delays (shippers confront), everywhere it’s the same, including Bali.”

Kuhn said the slow and delay-ridden process for discharging ships at Indonesian ports is linked to endless and legally unclear bureaucratic red tape. Moreover, he said the delays imposed on business operators moving good through the ports is also done at the hands of customs official. Adding: “Business people lack the courage to speak up about this problem. But this obviously affects the operational costs of shippers and the selling price of imported goods.”

The APINDO chairman said that once goods arrive at a port, importers are compelled to pay godown rental fees as goods are placed in storage to sit. Unnecessary rental rates are added to the cost of unloading goods and merchandise. “The charges are applied per kilogram, per container - at the Bali airport, the situation is the same. When we, as business people, import rice, machinery, fresh meat and fruit we want the merchandise in our hands in the shortest possible time so we can sell it on the market,” Kuhn explained.

He said the assortment of fees and charges applied at airports and seaports in Indonesia bloat the price of merchandise and add to Indonesia’s notorious “high-cost economy.

“Don’t blame the business people when the cost of goods is expensive,” Kuhn lamented.

Panudiana Kuhn also complained about the import costs to Indonesia, including Bali. He mentioned the case of alcoholic beverages that incur import duties of 400% - a high figure that Kuhn says compels importers to try to establish “close” relationships with port officials.

The business leader said he supports efforts by the President to bring the cost if importing good under control.

Separately, the head of the Indonesian Consumer Protector Agency in Bali (YLPK), Putu Armaya, also called for the government to be aggressive in reducing import and shipping costs in Indonesia. Calling for good will and transparency on the part of the government, Armaya said new technology to improve port efficiency would be frustrated by a corrupt process.

The YLPK chief said that without a corruption-free import process,  Indonesia would lose on the playing field of international business competition and render its people unable to compete.

In closing, Armaya said anything that impedes free trade and healthy price competition is in opposition to the Consumer Protection Law of 1999.


Baby Tigers Born at The Bali Zoo
Rare White Tiger Born at Bali Zoo

The Bali Zoo welcomed the birth of two baby Bengali tigers on August 2, 2015.

The babies – one a white tiger and the other golden-red. are the progeny of a 12-year-old white tiger Kartini and her mate an 11-year-old standard-colored Bengali tiger called King.

The male golden orange offspring has been named Dewa while his all-white sister is called Dewi.

Zoo officials say both babies are healthy and developing well.

The birth of a white tiger at the Bali Zoo joins the wide range of animals that make their home at the Zoo. Once released from the a special nursery and into the general zoo population, Dewi, one of a very limited population of rare white tigers in the world, is expected to bring even more visitors to the popular Bali Zoo located just north of Denpasar.


Reflections on Independence Day
Bali Update Editor John Daniels Remembers an Old Friend Who Told the World that All Indonesians are Free

I first came to know Jusuf Ronodipuro in the early 1980s when we attended a weekly luncheon club at The Jakarta Mandarin. In his early 60s at the time, Pak Jusuf had retired from the Indonesian diplomatic service in 1976 after serving in London, at the United Nations in New York and as the Republic’s Ambassador to Argentina.

As our acquaintance blossomed into friendship, we discovered a shared interest and past history in radio broadcasting. But, when it came to exchanging  “old radio stories” anything I had to offer paled in insignificance to those told by Jusuf recounting his experiences on August 17, 1945, when he became the first person to read the Indonesian Declaration of Independence over the airwaves.

Working at the time at Hoso Kyoku, the war-time military radio station of the Japanese occupiers, Jusuf Ronodupuro was at his office in central Jakarta at 5:30 pm on August 17, 1945  when another young Indonesian, Syahruddin, jumped over the radio station’s back wall to evade Japanese security and handed Ronodipuro a note written by journalist Adam Malik – a man later to become an Indonesian vice president.

The note read: “Please broadcast the accompanying news.” Malik had written and enclosed a copy of the short statement declaring Indonesian Independence read by Soekarno and Mohammad Hatta at 10:00 am earlier that same morning.

Ronodipuro discussed what should be done with his colleagues at Hoso Kyoku, including Bachtiar Lubis, the brother of famed writer and newspaper man Mochtar Lubis. A bold plan was struck that would see Jusuf Ronodipuro read the proclamation on the international news broadcast scheduled for 7:00 pm that evening.

Undertaken without the knowledge or permission of his Japanese minders, Jusuf and Bachtiar used the foreign broadcast booth, that luckily was left unguarded by the Japanese.

Jusuf later wrote that Joe Saragih, the lone technician on duty, made it possible to go on air. In order to fool the Japanese managers of the station about their plans and actual broadcast, another announcer sat in the domestic broadcast booth pretending to read the news, while Jusuf Ronodipuro were boldly sharing the news on Indonesian independence with listeners around the world and across Indonesia from the international broadcast booth.

For fifteen minutes and all the time expecting arrest or worst by Japanese soldiers, Jusuf repeatedly read a statement declaring the world’s newest nation was now in charge of the former Dutch East Indies – and that country’s name was Indonesia.

When 15 minutes had passed, Jusuf and his colleagues were arrested by the Japanese Kempetai and summarily beaten. In the course of a severe beating, Jusuf suffered a serious injury to his left knee and at one point an angry Japanese soldier was preparing to behead him.

Covered in blood, Jusuf was unable to return to his home in Salemba, managing only to take refuge at the home of a friend, Basuki Abdullah, near Gambir Railway Station. The following day, on August 18th, Jusuf sought treatment at the main hospital on Jalan Salemba where he was treated by Doctor Abdurahman Saleh. That meeting laid the early plans for the establishment of Radio Republik Indonesia (RRI).

Less than a month later, on September 11, 1945, Jusuf and a group of broadcast friends took control of radio stations across Java, proclaiming the evergreen slogan of Radio Republik Indonesia:Once on the Air, Forever on the Air (“Sekali di udara, tetap di udara”)

Later, in 1950, when Jusuf was the head of RRI Jakarta, he persuaded President Soekarno to re-record for posterity the text of the original proclamation read on August 17, 1945. When people today hear the voice of Soekarno reading the independence declaration they are, in fact, hearing the recording made in 1950.

Speaking to CNN Indonesia, Dharmawan Ronodipuro’s eldest son said: “My Father did not tell many stories about his past life. That does not mean he didn’t do great things. He was a man who didn’t like to boast.”

Jusuf Ronodipuro died, aged 88, on January 27, 2008 in Jakarta.

While he was alive, Jusuf Ronodipuro always attended Independence Day celebrations in Jakarta, marking a day and celebration ofa great Nation he held very dear to his heart.

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M. Jusuf Ronodipuro 1919-2008


 
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