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Villa Phobia in Bali?

Bali-Based Writer Says Balinese Fear Villa Invasion will Threaten Island's Culture and Economy.

(3/23/2009) Writing for the AAP NewsWire, Bali-based writer Marion Carrol published a provocative article saying that the Balinese are calling on their government to halt the current villa boom in order to save Bali's indigenous culture, the environment and the long-term economic sustainability of the island.

Blaming the current "foreign-backed" villa development boom for raising property prices in Seminyak to Rp. 5 million (US447) per square meter, Carrol says that Balinese are now finding themselves priced out of the market for owning land on their own island. What's more, impoverished farmers who have managed to hang onto ancestral farm lands are being forced to liquidate their holding as they are unable to pay escalating property taxes on their increasingly higher valued tracts of land. A member of the local parliament, Puspanegara said, "they are being forced to sell to educate and feed their children, and people are becoming jealous of foreign developers and investors."

Painting a picture of a free-for-all among foreign real estate agents, development companies, property consultants and legal advisors some of who she claims are not qualified Carrol tells of billboards advertising "freehold titles to foreigners" despite foreign ownership of land in Indonesia being specifically prohibited by regulation and the national constitution. Lawyers and developers urge foreigner investors on, insisting complicated legal constructs allow the law to be side-stepped and title to be secured for non-Indonesians.

Enough is Enough?

Carrol quoted local architect Popo Danes who suggests Balinese culture will be undermined by the growing trend of Balinese to surrender their lands to non-Balinese. "For a Balinese, selling their home is like selling their ancestors," said Danes, who admitted he profits from the villa boom but wants it to stop.

She also quotes Agung Raka of Legian who continues to resist those trying to purchase his bungalow complex. "If I sell, I would have nothing to leave my children and grandchildren," said Raka. "Where would our ancestors' spirits go? Where would we pray? We Balinese cannot just move houses like Christians or Muslims who can pray anywhere. We need our home and family temple."

Puspanegara, a member of the Golkar Party, called on Bali's governor to move against developers building in "no-build" green zones.