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Lake Buyan Investment Vetoed by Governor Pastika

Mangku Pastika Wades Into Group of Demonstrators to Pledge his Support for Bali's Environment and Declare an End to Plans to Hand Lake Buyan to a Private Investment Group.

(1/31/2009) The hard fought debate over allowing a private investor to manage Bali's sacred Lake Buyan has now come to an end with the very public rejection of the development plan put forth by PT Anantara. Governor Pastika's outright rejection of the private management plan for the lake and its surrounding environs was made when a group of demonstrators marched on his office to protest the plan on Friday, January 30, 2009.

Quoted in Bali Post, Pastika said he "agreed 100%" with plans to save Bali. Leaving a scheduled meeting at his office to face 150 demonstrators gathered in front of his office, Pastika shouted: "Don't think that Mangku Pastika can be bought by investors. No matter how much is offered, I won't be selling my head to investors."

The governor went on to restate his commitment to defend Bali with his entire heart and soul. He explained to the demonstrators that following his meeting with PT Anantara on January 9, 2009: "At that time, I did not give my approval to the investors. I only listened to their proposal. I invited them to first undertake a study that examined the physical, religious, traditional values, culture and economic implications of their proposal. And, remember, I placed economic considerations fifth in order of priority."

With demonstrators proclaiming "the Motherland is crying," Pastika rejoined: "I, too, am crying. Every time I have returned to Siririt over the past five year the land encroachment into Lake Buyan has increased. Now more than 60 hectares of the lake has become shore land. What's more, 260 of Bali's 400 lakes are now dry. Of the remaining rivers 140 are on their way to becoming dry. Jungle trees are cut while rivers are polluted. Ten years into the future and Bali will become like a desert if it is not saved."

Warming to his theme and his enthusiastic audience, the Governor told the demonstrators that not only must Bali's natural environment be saved, but the island's people, traditions and culture must also be rescued, adding:, "I do not want to leave Bali dry. The Hindu religion must be preserved and embraced by the people of Bali."

The Protests

Prior to the Governor's comments that put an end to the PT Anantara's plan for Lake Buyan, the protestors, all wearing traditional costumes and led by Hindu priests, sang "Ibu Pertiwi" and "Padamu Negeri" two well known patriotic songs. Si Ketut Mandiranatha, one of the demonstrations leaders, then delivered an emotional address that included: "End the poignant cries of the nation's children. Don't allow Bali to become an island of the people's suffering." He went on to call on all of Bali's leaders and all its citizens to harden their resolve to maintain Bali as an island paradise.

Mandirranatha said that violations of Bali Hindu religious norms have already occurred in a number of areas in Bali including Loloan Yeh Poh, Uluwatu, Silayukti, Tanah Lot, Serangan, Lake Buyan and adjoining areas. He called for an end to exploitation of sacred areas across Bali asking that investors be diverted to projects which will strengthen the people's economy. He specifically pleaded for an end to all exploitation which diminishes Balinese religious values, local tradition, culture and the sensibilities of the Balinese Hindus. He also called on the Governor to take firm action against all violators of sacred zones in accordance with the island's established zoning regulations and that, in the future, for the Hindu Dharma organization to be included in deliberations affecting sacred zones.