Following weeks of being ridiculed on the front pages of Bali's newspapers for the questionable approval of development projects surrounding sacred Lake Buyan, including calls from some quarters for his removal as Bupati (Regent) of Buleleng, Putu Bagiada has snapped back branding his critics as "crazy."
Quoted in Radar Bali, the spirited and "spiritual-minded" leader of Buleleng launched a counter-attack against those who have questioned his efforts to develop the Lake Buyan region. Included in the cross-hairs of Bagiada's rebuttal were governor Made Mangku Pastika, religious leader Made Gunung and local environmental groups.
Adopting an angry tone, Bagiada branded his critics and anti-development foes as "crazy people who make only noise" without first looking into the facts of the case in his regency.
Speaking after a special sessions of the Regional House of Representatives in Buleleng, Bagiada said: "Those doing the talking are crazy. Write down everything I say, don't report only a portion. Those who are talking are crazy; speaking only to make noise, and don't know the facts in Buleleng."
Continuing, he added: "I am very disappointed that there are officials, religious figures and people from Buleleng who are just making noise not in keeping with the actual facts. They have to first understand the problem, not just speak for the sake of making a comment. Say what you like, that's their democratic right. But do so in accordance with the real facts providing informed commentary and not merely sound bites."
To further underline his point, Bagiada challenged his many critics to an open debate on the subject of developing the Dasong jungle tract and Lake Buyan: "I am ready to debate anyone. Let's have an open debate. Don't just make noise without (first) understanding the problems of Buleleng.Ē
Buleleng's regent who, prior to entering politics, worked as a banker, told Radar Bali that all parts of Bali are pure and sacred. He cautioned that this fact does not automatically mean that every part of the island can't be developed as a means of improving the welfare of the Balinese people.
Bagiada also questioned the lack of fairness and balance in recent criticism of developments at Lake Buyan. Citing an example, he asked why the heavy development of hotels and water sports at Lake Batur and Lake Beratan have earned no negative comments or criticism from those attacking his plans for Lake Buyan. Bagiada asked: "In fact, there (Lake Beratan and Lake Batur) are temples surrounded by hotels and restaurants. Are the areas of Lake Batur and Lake Beratan not (also) sacred?"
Referring to the 20 hectare of land in the Dasong jungle and the village of Pacasari, Bagiada insisted that he had only given his recommendation for the project and that the right of final approval rests with the central government and the Minister of Forestry, saying: "The Minister of Forestry is the one entitled to grant permission or not. I only gave a recommendation, whether permission is granted or not is a matter for the Minister of Forestry."
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