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It's Our Island and We’ll Do as We Want To

Governor Pastika Insists that He Will Not Enforce New Anti-Pornography Law.

(6/8/2009) In a defiant break with central authority in the Republic, Bali's governor Made Mangku Pastika has bee quoted by Reuters and The Jakarta Post as saying "he has no intention" of enforcing the anti-pornography law signed by President Yudhoyono last December.

Insisting that the law violates Balinese cultural values and is not in keeping with the aspirations of the people of Bali, Pastika said, "as long as I am the governor of Bali, I, along with the head of the provincial government in Bali, have stated that we will not enforce this law."

Defending the tendency of Balinese art to celebrate nudity and eroticism, the governor said his fellow Balinese held the view that : "The artworks and cultural practices of Bali are not in any way meant to be pornographic. They are meant to educate and communicate about the essence of life and existence."

While the Central Government has decreed that tourism-related activities are exempted by the new anti-pornographic law, there is widespread concern that dance, theatre, painting, sculpting, monuments and even bathing in local streams will be threatened by legislatively imposed inhibitions from Jakarta.

The legislation is also criticized for it's vigilante content, allowing individual citizens to impose their own view of what constitutes pornography and encouraging individual action against people deemed to be causing moral outrage.

The governor's defiant stance has brought neither rebuke or reprimand from the Central Government. While some interpret this as a return to Indonesia's long-held tradition of tolerance, some political observers suggest the government is eager to sidestep any confrontation on polarizing issue that could cost valuable votes in Bali where the new law is unpopular or in Java where fundamentalist Islamic followers enthusiastically embrace the law's intent.