A special press conference organized by the Association of Starred Hotels in Bali (Casa Grande) on Saturday, October 11, 2003, was held at the Patra Bali Resort. The conference, well attended by members of the international media in town to cover the memorial ceremonies for the Bali bombing victims, saw a panel convened comprised of Inspector General Made Mangku Pastika, Chief of Police for Bali; I Gde Pitana the Chief of the Bali Tourism Authority; Agung Prana, Chairman of the Bali branch of the Association of Indonesian Travel Agents (ASITA); Putu Antara, Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board (BTB); and Robert Kelsall, Chairman of the Casa Grande.
Security Dominated Discussions
The foreign press attending the conference were particularly eager to question Chief Pastika on issues related to security and safety on the island of Bali. Among the points made by the island's top policeman, voted Asian newsmaker of the year by Time Magazine, included:
• Bali has largely returned to a normal situation one year after the terrorist attack of October 12, 2003.
• The possibility of new attacks can never be totally discounted, particularly with 5 suspects in last October's bombing still at large and a quantity of their explosive cache still unaccounted for.
• Over the past year the Bali police have received substantial assistance from the local community and international friends that have made a meaningful contribution to the process of "capacity building" among local police officers.
• While the police are constantly developing new strategies and tactics to combat terrorism, the public can help join the fight on terror by "refusing to be terrorized."
• Police are enjoying an unprecedented level of cooperation with local military and international police authorities in the "war on terror." Intelligence officers of the police, military, national intelligence body, and prosecutor's office work closely together in the exchange of information.
• Terrorist cells, with Al Qaeda connections, continue to operate but are "in hiding," unable to use e-mail or electronic means of communications due to more sophisticate surveillance capabilities now possessed by the police.
• New counter terrorism tools are now available to Bali's police including newly arrived state-of-the-art bomb detection equipment and a detachment of bomb sniffing dogs.
• Foreign police advisors are now on temporary assignment with the Bali police representing senior officers from Australia, Japan and the United States.
• Chief Pastika acknowledged the negative impact of travel advisories discouraging travel to Indonesia. He suggested that rather than complain to the Governments concerned, the most effective step to counter these advisories is for Bali to take concrete steps to improve security in order to reassure world travelers that the island is indeed safe.
Chief Pastika also briefly outlined the massive security measures now in place in connection with the visit of Australian Prime Minister John Howard together with 1,500 mourners attending the weekend's memorial services. In all, some 5,000 police officers will be deployed to ensure the peace during the coming days.
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