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President Defends Visa-On-Arrival Policy

President Megawati Defends Unpopular Visa Policy During Bali Visit.

(6/14/2004) Indonesia's President used the format of a public dialogue in Bali on Friday, June 11, 2004, to defend her Government's introduction of a visa-on-arrival policy.

As reported in the Indonesian-language Bali Post, responding to a question asked by Mr. I Gusti Agung Prana, Bali's Chairman of the Association of Indonesian Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA), the President insisted that the visa policy was a necessary step to safeguard Indonesia from those seeking to disrupt the Nation, permitting greater control over the Nation's borders.

Giving no encouragement to those hoping the pay-for-visa-on-arrival policy would eventually be revoked, President Megawati called on the Tourism Industry to consolidate their promotional efforts, following the examples of countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

The President declared as lacking objectivity those who compare Indonesia's immigration policies with its near neighbors in calling for the abolition of the visa fee. Indonesia is a substantially larger country with longer borders all facts that require the Country to formulate an immigration policy best suited to its specific needs and requirement, she explained.

Disbanding the Ministry of Culture & Tourism

Responding to a separate question from Mr. Prana, the President discounted reports in the Press that the Ministry of Culture and Tourism would be disbanded in the new cabinet. Telling her listeners to not be too easily swayed by rumor, she invited them to "wait and see" what the composition of her next cabinet will include.

President Megawati was visiting Bali as part of a campaign swing prior to the Presidential elections set for July 5, 2004.