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The Balinese as Tenants on their Ancestral Island

Gede Sri Darma: Outsider's Thirst to Own Property in Bali is Undermining Bali's Native Culture

(2/8/2014) Bali's popularity with foreign investors, and the resulting property boom now underway, is operating independently of the current over-supply of accommodation and lowered occupancy rates at hotels and villas. Investors still claim there are profits to be had in the lucrative buying and selling of "dream homes" on the Island of the Gods.

The rector of the National Education University (Undiknas), Professor Dr. Gede Sri Darma, said the effect from this phenomenon poses a threat to the people of Bali. Quoted by The Bali Post, Sri Darma said the Balinese are increasingly becoming a landless class on the island that is their ancestral home. He warned that the disenfranchisement of the Balinese living on Bali will inevitably lead to the loss of "Balinese character" on the Island.

"Indeed, in this era of globalization and the ASEAN Economic Community we cannot prevent the flow of capital, goods and services entering Bali. If we forbid these things the result will be that Bali is isolated from the international community. But, at the same time, we cannot simply close our eyes to the presence of investors in Bali. All parties must obey the law," said Sri Darma

In the eyes of the respected educator, foreigners own a number of properties in favored tourist areas such as Seminyak and Kerobokan. However, the name listed on the notarial act is not that of the foreign owner, but a name "borrowed" from a local citizen.

Under Indonesian law, foreign nationals are specifically and absolutely prohibited from owning freehold property in Indonesia.

Warns Sri Darma, "The result of foreigners involvement in the business of buying and selling property in Bali will influence the difficulty of safeguarding Bali's culture."

Sri Darma says Bali is perceived by many foreigners as "heaven on earth" causing many to try to own property there. This desire is so strong that price becomes of secondary performance. At the same time, investing in property is seen as lucrative, with the Professor adding: "Certainly property is the safest and most profitable investment, better than putting money in the bank, obligations, money funds and the stock market."

Adding to the situation, in the midst of a continuing economic crisis in Europe, the weak exchange rate of the Indonesian Rupiah makes Bali property all the more attractive as an object of investment.

Sri Darma called on the government to be form in enforcing the provincial zoning law (RTRW).

"The Balinese must embrace the principle of not selling their property assets to outsiders, even when the prices offered are sky high," said Sri Darma. Calling on the administrations of Bali's regencies and metropolitan areas to focus on protecting Bali's future, Sri Darma warned that if tourism is mismanaged Bali will be destroyed.

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