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Distant Drums: Jro Gede Suarshana

Local Hotelier and Tour Operator Throws His Hat into the Race to Become Bali's Next Governor.

(7/10/2007) Dr. Jro Gde Karang T. Suarshana, MBA, the owner of Bali tour operator Suartur and the Bali Tropik Hotel, recently joined the race to be elected Bali's next governor.

Running as an independent, Jro Gede is remaining true to his tourism industry roots, calling for Bali to recover its unique cultural character. One of the founders of Bali Promo - the precursor of the Bali Tourism Board, Jro Gede recently told the Bali Post that Bali's current development has gotten off-track.

Suggesting that God may be unhappy with Bali's current course, Jro Gede wonders if the decision to build a giant statute of the Lord Wisnu at the Garuda Wisnu Kencana site on Bali's southern peninsula was not a "spiritual" mistake. Insisting that tradition and belief dictate Lord Wisnu's statute should be positioned in a "northern" locale, he is concerned that the bombings in Bali of 2002 and 2005 on one level may represent a consequence of the man-made imbalance created by the monument in the Balinese cosmos.

Calls for a Stop to New Investment

In his comments to the Bali Post, Jro Gede called on the Government to halt new investments in hotels, blaming the tourism industry for turning the Balinese into a race of common laborers.

As an alternative to new hotel investment Jro Gede believes there should be a renewed focus on village-based tourism in order to improve the economic status of the Balinese people. "It doesn't matter if such (village-based) investments have small profits, the dollars produced will go directly to many people," explained the man wishing to be Bali's next governor.

According to the local press, Jro Gede's Bali-oriented and bottom-up approach to economic development is earning his independent candidacy a growing base of popular support.