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Whose Travel Advisory is It, Anyway?

Local Tourism Leader Takes Aim at General Made Pastika for Promising to Remove Australian Travel Warnings if Elected Governor.

(3/22/2008) Recent press reports claiming Bali's gubernatorial candidate Made Mangku Pastika promised to remove Australian travel advisories once he is elected to office have earned a stinging rebuke from the Chairman of the Bali's Chamber of Commerce, Gde Wiratha.

According to the Bali Post, Bali's former Bali Police Chief, General Pastika, told the press in the Bali regency of Karangasem recently that he was prepared to suspend the Australian travel advisory for Bali.

However, when the Bali Post contacted the Australian Embassy in Jakarta the press attaché affirmed that travel advisories issued by the Australian government are the exclusive purview of the issuing authority and are unaffected by who is elected to Bali’s governor's post.

In a written response to a question from the Bali Post, the Australian Embassy in Jakarta replied: "The Australian Government has a current travel advisory for Indonesia, as we have for most other countries. We monitor the state of those travel advisories on a regular basis and they are regularly updated and constantly reviewed. The paramount concern for the Australian Government is the protection, safety and security of Australian nationals traveling or living abroad."

Wiratha, who recently had his eye on Bali's governor post before failing to earn his party's nomination, asked the Bali Post: "How would a governor be able to guarantee he will remove a travel warning? Why, even President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono can't cancel travel warnings!"

Wiratha, who is also the former Chairman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) for Bali, said that travel advisories are the policy of a sovereign nation used to protect its citizens from perceived threats. Adding, Australia's travel warnings or travel advisories apply to all of Indonesia, not only Bali. "According to me," said Wiratha, "what needs to be pushed is public participation. If everyone participates, Bali will be safe, no matter who serves as governor."

Irrational and Stupid?

Cutting little slack for the Police General and his former political rival, Wiratha branded "some of the ideas and promises put forth by candidates (for governor) are irrational hinging on the ignorant." For example, he explained, the promise that Australian travel warnings will be revoked when you are elected governor. Adding, "it is as thought the security issues is reduced to the sole concern of tourism, when in fact security is a concern of everyone in Bali."