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Political Showdown Looming at Padang Bai?

Governor Beratha Calls on Karangasem's Regent to Revoke Enabling Regulation and Halt 'Chateau de Bali' Project.

(7/21/2008) With controversy brewing regarding villa projects built in violation of zoning and environmental rules on Uluwatu and Kerambitan Beach, a separate imbroglio is now underway on Bukit Mimba near the east coast port of Padang Bai.

In the latest development, Bali's outgoing Governor Made Beratha has ordered the Regent of Karangasem, Geredeg, to revoke his own regulation that is allowing the construction of a 5-star luxury resort Chateau de Bali on a 75.9 hectare site.

In the view of Bali's Governor, the enabling legislation issued by the Regent is invalid because it is at variance with pre-imminent provincial zoning regulations which must take legal precedence.

Reports published in Bali Post contend that the project approved by the Regent enjoys widespread public support in Karangasem, despite alleged infringements on sacred grounds surrounding a local Hindu temple and overbuilding of an area formerly protected as a "green zone." The newspaper reports that the hotels project's developer has pledged to source 80% of the jobs generated by the hotels from local residents.

The situation in Karangasem has arrived at something of an "executive impasse." Will the Regent of Karangasem accede to the Governor's order, effectively outlawing a major investment project well into its construction phase? If the Regent refuses to revoke his ruling what, if any, action will Governor Beratha take with less than 2 weeks left in office? What legal recourse do the developers have if they suddenly find their project is suddenly illegal?

The polemic is only likely to intensify further was signaled by additional coverage in the Bali Post on Saturday, July 19th, where the Regent of Karangasem stated his regulation "pre-dated" the provincial law and was therefore, exempt from having to accede to the Governor's request. Geredeg's defiance has been greeted on the provincial and national level with suggestions that the Regent is leaving himself exposed to criminal prosecution and a possible prison term of up to 5 years.