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Bali is Safe; Bali is Different

Washington's Man in Bali Speaks on Bali's Security Situation


Bali News:
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(10/7/2001)

Mr. Andrew Toth, the U.S. Consular Agent in Bali was quoted this past week in the Indonesian language Bali Post offering words of reassurance to those concerned about possible sweeping activities in Bali.

Attending an informal get together of 12 consuls and the Bupati of Badung (the chief regional government official) held on Wednesday, October 3, at a local hotel, Mr. Toth was quoted saying that he was convinced that the people of Bali were able to comprehend the various political implications of the WTC tragedy in a clear and wise fashion and could not be incited to act destructively.

Mr. Toth, a long-time resident on Bali and an acknowledged expert on Balinese culture, music and history, underlined that because tourism is the backbone of the Balinese economy, the local population always endeavors to create an atmosphere conducive for tourism. Emphasizing his belief that the Balinese categorically reject sweeping actions to remove foreigners, such as those threatened in Central Java and Jakarta, he jokingly stated, "I am convinced there will be no sweeping of foreigners in Bali. Sweeping with a broad broom, perhaps. To my knowledge, sweeping in Bali is reserved solely for cleaning temples, households or the local village banjar."

After studying Balinese culture for 32 years, Mr. Toth, who often appears on local TV and at local festivals providing masterful performances of Balinese music, described the people of Bali and their refusal to undertake sweeping actions by saying, "generally, the characteristic of the Balinese is to love peace and avoid violence. They will most certainly reject unsympathetic acts such as sweeping."

While repeating that he was not concerned with the security situation in Bali in the aftermath of the WTC tragedy, he asked that the police authorities remain vigilant in guarding against those individuals who may wish to disrupt Bali's safety. He suggested that Bali's airport, as the main gateway to the island, requires priority in terms of security measures.

At the same gathering, Bupati Ratmadi assured the consuls in attendance that Bali will never experience sweeping. "Such unsympathetic actions do not reflect Bali's culture. I guarantee there will be no sweeping and Bali will continue to be a place that is safe and enjoyable for tourists," he said.

Ketut Suardana, a high-ranking Balinese police officer explained that dating from the onset of the sweeping threat elsewhere in Indonesia, his department had taken a proactive role by collecting data on American's living in Bali as well as their assets, while at the same time intensifying local patrols of areas in which expatriates live.


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