BeritaBali.com reports that Indonesia's Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, has promised that Bali will soon possess its own search and rescue helicopter. That promise was made by the only Balinese in the current presidential cabinet during a ceremony held at the office of the Regent of Buleleng on Friday, January 16, 2009.
Wacik said he will soon discuss the proposed helicopter in Jakarta and agreed that such an aircraft is needed respond to accidents or natural disasters.
Wacik's promise is widely supported by members of the national house of representatives and Commission IV of that body. A member of the House, Gede Sumarjaya Linggih, said he would fight hard for the new helicopter in the coming legislative session. Linggih said: "I promise, but 90% of the new helicopter is a sure thing, and I am convinced that our battles to get a helicopter will be successful.”
The promise by Linggih and Minister Wacik were in response to complaints from Bali's governor Made Mangku Pastika who said, "Bali has no search and rescue helicopter, so how can we ask Australia to remove (negative) travel advisories if our facilities, security and safety are found lacking?"
Helicopter assistance to Bali now comes from an aircraft based in Surabaya which, according to Bali responders, is too far away and entails complicated and time-consuming bureaucratic procedures to mobilize in the event of an emergency.
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