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Kuta – Bali's Wild Wild West

Editorial: Recent Death of New Zealand Man Underlines Lack of Rules and Official Security Presence in Kuta-Seminyak Night-Life Corridor.

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The death on a New Zealand man April 12, 2009, at the Bounty Discothèque in Kuta after being brutalized by three employees has created a chorus in the local press calling for the closure of the venue now blamed with having damaged Bali's reputation.

The Badung regency's tourism service has responded via comments publlished in Radar Bali saying the it is difficult to close the fully-licensed entertainment venue established under rules of the National Investment Board in 1995.

Despite receiving a "silver" certification issued in September 2008 by the Bali police for its security precautions, Badung tourism officials condemned the bar's poor service and employment of "thugs" (preman) as security staff. Badung tourism official, Nyoman Suardana, quoted in the local press said: "Many of the security staff are thugs. So, the thuggery becomes part of the company's profile. What's more, while there is a police post at the locale, the police will only get involved after things get out of hand."

Local observers and long-time residents know that violoent physical altercations are not uncommon at Kuta's nightspots, often involving assaults on guests by employees or fellow revellers. By virtue of existing security arrangements between pub owners and the authorities, police only become involved when death, serious injury or an official police complaint results.

This unhappy state of affairs in which many night spots "are a rule unto themselves" is fueling calls for stronger regulation of Bali's nightlife industry, including regulating the number of entertainment venues allowed to operate, stricter operating hours, general security standards, limiting sound amplification, age limitation requirements for guests and limiting service provided to intoxicated customers.

While reminding the press that three men have been charged and are awaiting trial in the death of the New Zealand man, tourism officials point out that the current rules allow them them only the right to send a reprimand letter to the owners of Bounty.

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