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Government Gets Tough

Bali Remains Calm While Leaders Across Country Signal 'Enough is Enough.'

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Affected by negative newscasts portraying anti-U.S. demonstrations in other parts of Indonesia, Bali maintains the peace but continues to suffer from the fallout of cancellations from nervous international travelers. While Bali fights back delivering the message that "Bali is safe; Bali is different," there are encouraging signs that top national and regional leaders are becoming aware of the damage being done to tourism, investment and international trade and are at last taking a tougher stand with protestors.

Last week, Indonesia's Vice President Hamzah Haz called for an end to all anti-U.S. demonstrations, taking a public position not popular with his own PPP party religious stalwarts, but more supportive of The President's public position. Possibly reflecting this stand, demonstrations in Jakarta on Friday (19 October) adopted a new countenance. Friday's demonstration marches down the Capital's main boulevards, although the largest to date, were markedly less strident in tone than recent Anti-U.S demonstrations in front of the American Embassy. Adopting a more pluralistic and moderate demeanor, more acceptable to the mainstream of Indonesia's people, the Friday marches included children and women, as well as representatives from a variety of religious and political groupings calling for peace in Afghanistan and an end to all forms of terrorism.

Meanwhile, Java's regional governments of Solo and Yogyakarta, affected by last month's furtive threats of "sweeping," have issued strong statements of condemnation against such actions.

The Governor of Central Java, Mr. Mardiyanto, issues a formal statement in which he condemned "in the most solemn manner" the recent "sweeping" at hotels in Solo. Saying such actions were "lawless" and "completely unacceptable to Indonesian law and culture where visitors are treated with courtesy and respect" the Governor condemned the actions of a "few hotheads" as "damaging the reputation of Central Java as a place that welcomes both foreign tourists and overseas investors." He added, "this type of unacceptable behavior has been criticized by all mainstream Muslim organizations and does not reflect the feelings of the overwhelming majority of people living here." The region's governor promised that there would be no reoccurrence, offering his personal pledge that visitors are safe and any law-breakers will be prosecuted.

65 kilometers away from Solo, in the cultural capital of Indonesia, the Governor of the Special Region of Yogyakarta, Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X, was equally firm in his formal statement on the matter. Underlining that the "sweeping" occurred outside the region of Indonesia that he governs, the Sultan guaranteed, "such incidents will never happen in the Special Region of Yogyakarta." Condemning such actions as "lawless" and "completely unacceptable to Indonesian law and culture which have a long story on treating visitors with special courtesy and respect," he assured that steps have been taken to make sure such incidents won't happen in Yogyakarta.

Yogyakarta is slated to host the ASEAN Tourism Forum 2002 (ATF) January 21-26,2002. The popular Sultan of Yogyakarta who is also the special region's Governor, is the patron of that event.

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