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That Was the Week That Was!

7 Days on and Indonesia has a New President, a New Vice-President and a Very Definite New Sense of Optimism. Bali Update Takes a Look a Momentous Week Just Past.

(7/28/2001) Over the past 7 days Indonesia has experienced an entire world of change. President Abdurrahman Wahid has been removed from office and left for the United States for medical treatment. Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri has been appointed the Nation's 5th President. And Hamzah Haz has been appointed to serve as the Country's Vice President.

Bali has greeted these fundamental change with a high degree of equanimity born of the distance the island enjoys from Jakarta - the center of the whirlwind, and the sense that this Country may somehow now be moving towards a more balanced, harmonic footing than has been the case over the past two years. The Balinese have a deep and abiding reverence for Tri Hita Karana - the need to maintain balance and harmony in the cosmos; between man and God, man and nature, and man and man. The sense that the acrimony and discord that has characterized national politics of late may finally be coming to en end sits well with the average Balinese view of the world.

That, along the way, Indonesia's new appointed a new President who the Balinese feel has both a blood-line and spiritual connection with the island via her late Father, President Sukarno, is seen as an added bonus. Ibu Mega's followers on the island of Bali represent an overwhelming - and sometime fanatical - majority. Local makers of roadside banners have been working overtime keeping up with the orders for celebratory banners congratulating the new President, which are now appearing in almost every village on the island. In fact, if you'd like to shake hands with a Balinese these days all you have to do is smile broadly and say Ibu Mega's name. A friendly hand shake is sure to follow.

To say that the Balinese are delighted with last week's change of power in Jakarta is a gross understatement.

Bali, which has maintained the peace over the past two troubled years of Indonesia's history, is now more than safe. While local power groups diligently preserved Bali's peaceful reputation while other parts of the country slipped in and out of turmoil, the fact that Ibu Mega - the island's adoptive daughter, is now in charge would mean that any breach of the peace would represent a fundamental loss of face.

Now's is a great time to come to Bali. Hotels and restaurants are running at their peaks and the Balinese - like many people in Indonesia are newly infected with a sense of optimism about their country's future. The atmosphere is festive.

But, a word of caution: bring your own Ibu Mega banner. We can't keep up with the orders.