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Who Owns Taman Festival?

Local Bali Businessman Challenges Governor Pastika's Efforts to Repossess Land Occupied by Defunct Entertainment Center.

(11/14/2009) In the mid-1990s, the Bali government of Bali entered into a joint-venture with Indonesian businessman Bambang Pengestu for the operation of what was promised to become a US$100 million entertainment complex in Sanur - Taman Festival Bali. A soft-opening in October of 1997 gave visitors a glimpse at the developing amusement park that, when completed, would have thrill rides, animal exhibits, dining venues, a micro-brewery, a man-made volcano erupting nightly and a US$5 million laser show.

Eventually, a lightning strike put an end to the laser show and diminishing pyrotechnic supplies made the ersatz volcano extinct. But, on a more basic level, poor public attendance during the Asian economic crisis and the inability of Pangestu to financially complete the project caused the park to eventually close its doors completely in 2000.

More recently, Bali's governor Made Mangku Pastika, keeping his pledge to reinvigorate underperforming provincial assets, declared his interest in finding a new investor to take over the park or to develop the 9.5 hectare site into some other profitable business.

However, the governor's intentions have, at least for the interim, been put on hold by a local businessman, Hartono, who is trying to bring the Governor before a local procedural court (PTUN) for his refusal to turn the land over to him. Hartono, who owns a beachfront hotel in Kuta and the local Mercedes Benz dealership, is reportedly claiming that he purchased the lease on the land for Rp. 12 billion (US$1.2 million) in an auction conducted by the bank who held the original lease with Pangestu as collateral for money lent to develop the park.

Citing the fact that the original lease is part of a non-performing joint operation and that the project has failed to pay a promised dividend to the people of Bali for more than a decade, the provincial government considers their agreement with Pangestu null and void and now wishes to reclaim the land now claimed by Hartono.

Efforts by the local press to obtain a comment from Hartono in the matter have proven futile with his staff claiming the "boss" is out of town.