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Bali Update and www.balidiscovery.com readers were busy contributing thoughts, comments and reactions to articles.
Here's a sampling from our mailbag.
Criticism from some quarters on the behavior of a minority of Australian tourist [Louts, Bogans and Yobbos Not Welcome in Bali] pushed many to write in.
Helen from Australia said:
"We totally agree with these comments. Last year we visited Bali and accidentally drove down a street in Kuta at night and were appalled at the young male and female tourists behaving so badly, we were totally shocked and embarrassed to call ourselves Australian.'"
Diane Hesse had this to say:
" I totally agree! So often I am embarrassed and want to apologize for these insensitive louts. Even on flights their attire and behavior is appalling!"
Peter Barrett, also from Australia, contributes:
"As an Australian who is a frequent visitor to Bali there have been several occasions where I have cringed with embarrassment over the behavior of fellow Aussie tourists. These idiots are giving us a bad name. They are ignorant people who see Bali simply as a place for them to party on with no regard for the people around them. Their lack of cultural sensitivity is appalling. Bali is an island with a rich cultural heritage and friendly people deserving of our respect. It's a shame there isn't such a thing as a yobbo detector at the airport to screen these types out, whether they be Aussies or any other nationality of tourists."
Gina Putland voiced her sentiments :
"I so much agree with the way some Aussies act in Bali. I am a regular Business traveler to Bali. There have been times where l did not want to be known that l am Australian. Here in Australia we do not walk around the streets swigging on a beer can or with no top on. We are visitors on their Island, so please respect the Balinese customs and their way of Life."
Bernard Willette wrote to say :
"Having lived in Bali for already 8 years, I would like to say that (it is) not only the Indonesian-Australian Council is embarrassed with the attitude of some Australians here. I think that the whole community of expats is suffering from the lack of education of those people. How can an owner of a restaurant let people enter without even a T shirt? The answer is that he needs to run a business. Riding a motorbike half naked . . . What can of image the Balinese and the all the other people will have about those people. As an expat and non-Aussie, I don't wish to be associated with those people. On the beach, yes, anywhere else, no."
Linda wrote :
"I agree wholeheartedly. I am sick of seeing and hearing Bogan's with their abysmal behavior. It's an embarrassment to be a fellow countryman. The hotel we stayed at in Legian had a lot of bogans staying there who spoilt everyone else's holiday for those staying in the same hotel. Please stay at home if you cannot be reasonably behaved and respect the people and culture of the country you are visiting."
Larry Price emailed from Australia :
" So, what's new. I've been to Bali 9 times and nothing's changed."
A survey from Bali's Udayana University suggests Indonesian tourist get second class treatment in their own country when visiting Bali. [Are Indonesian Tourists Getting Short Shrift in Bali?].
Here's what Suzanna van Noort writing from the Netherlands had this to say"
"I traveled to Bali last year and the taxi driver from the airport didn't say a word, not even smile...was it because I am an Indonesian and not a tourist ? The same thing also at hotels, they give better services and better rooms to foreign tourists, but not to local tourists / Indonesians. Please treat domestic tourists the same as you serve foreign tourists!
Our editorial calling on Bali's Governor Made Pastika to call a moratorium on any changes to the rules on foreign land ownership [Governor Pastika: Time to call a 'Time Out'] precipitated a flood of emails.
Diane Hesse wrote :
"Please send support for this consideration. Too many rice fields are being built on too many pools and too much exploitation of the Balinese. The culture here is precious and in so many ways more important than investment and ownership!"
Charlotte emailing from Indonesia succinctly added:
"Think it over - for your grandchildren, Pak Pastika."
Terje Nilsen who works in the property field in Bali observed:
"As a Property company we very much agree with this idea coming from you, its seriously important that the long term impacts is considered and that the Balinese community does have a strong say, short term this may turn into social issues a little further down the road, as well as a further destruction of Balinese Culture, the very core of why are all so attracted to Bali. I have a book written by eco tourism specialist Arild Molstad, title of book is: Were Should We Travel Before it's to Late', one of the places is Bali...."
Ross Macfarlane said :
"It seems to me that foreign ownership is not the issue. The problem is lack of an effective planning system that rejects buildings and developments that are not in harmony with beautiful Bali. It seems to me that some retrospective examination of the rules and the forced demolition of the worst cases of abuse would soon focus the minds of greedy developers hoping to buy their way around the rules with a bag of money."
Lawrie Price in Australia added :
"I just hope that Governor Pastika can stop this terrible change of policy. The land rats will ruin Bali!"
Bruce Wyder said :
"I think it would be a disaster if foreign ownership was allowed in Bali and the rest of Indonesia. I once considered buying under the present regulations, but when I saw where the development was taking place in the middle of a rice paddy I changed my mind as I did not want to be part of the degradation of Bali. Foreign developers are greedy and will do anything to make money. They have no regard for the culture of Bali, the people of Bali, nor the agriculture of Bali. They also tend to forget that water is already in short supply, along with the possible shortage of electricity."
Graham James from Bali contributed :
"Spot on. Watch Canggu suffer the fate of Seminyak when the green belt was lifted. Then you had someone put a 3 meter road into a rice field, build a modest house and one year later the rice field was filled with other houses, the 3 meter road was the only way in, no drainage, electricity sucked and a slum created. That's the future of Canggu. If it stops, that is (if) the Building Permit Dept of the provincial Government is mothballed, then the island can recover, established roads get repaired, electricity and water supplies are upgraded, hotels filled and life become a lot less frenetic. Sorry to say, it ain't gonna happen. Thanks anyway to voices such as Bali Update for pushing for what we all want: to regain the 'old' Bali.'"
Ronald A. Smith wrote in to say:
Although I generally agree with you, I am not convinced that issues such as pollution of the rivers and beach erosion can be blamed heavily on foreigners. The other issues you raise are more of the government failing to enforce regulations or enact appropriate measures. II believe the real intent of the changes to ownership laws are for individual ownership as residences and not for commercial purposes. To me the solution is ownership requires occupancy/residency on the property and subleasing or renting of such property would be illegal."
Christian Fritz who lives in Bali said:
" I was under the understanding that the new property laws are more or less a clear lease structure and no hak milik titles at all. This in my opinion would rather be beneficial than the abuse of lacking regulations allowing nominee agreements, which is actually worse than a clear structured long term lease of 70 or 99 years. At least the land would go back to the original family after the lease duration. With the nominee agreement structure it is lost to 3rd party Indonesians legally and to foreigners for sure, without ever going back to the original owners. . . So maybe we have to wait for the actual implementation draft of the law."
Our coverage on higher alcohol taxes in Bali [Bali Tourism Will Suffer form Higher Alcohol Taxes] drove some to drink and others to write in. Among the latter:
Kim Silander wrote:
"There is a high probability that the result of this will increase the consumption of potentially lethal black market alcohol, that has either been smuggled into the country or has been made locally without any governmental control."
"It can be argued if increased alcohol prices at all will reduce the overall alcohol consumption or only impact the official sales statistics whilst the unofficial consumption increases? Indonesia should turn to some of the Scandinavian countries such as Sweden and Finland to see how a change of alcohol policies, as a result of their entry to the European Union, have impacted these countries. Both Finland and Sweden sell alcohol through government owned stores and have in past decade substantially reduced the alcohol tax and increased the quota for alcohol import for travelers."
"In fact, this has reduced the amount of black market alcohol and poisonous illegal distillation plants in both Sweden and Finland. This can be compared to Norway that still has a lot of alcohol tax and also alcohol related incidents and smuggling."
"If the government want to control the consumption of alcohol they should rather reduce taxes to eliminate the enormous margins the black market now can enjoy through sale of illegal alcohol. Maybe Indonesia should consider the "Scandinavian model" of a governmental store for alcohol sale and maybe most importantly "educate" people to drink responsibly."
Bruce Wyder wrote again to say :
"I visit Bali 3-4 times a year; this increase in tax is unjustified. The price of alcohol is already sky high $80 for a regular bottle of Scotch. I will bring a bottle from duty free in future, thus the sale from the bar and the tax is lost. So no one wins!"
Coverage of an appeal for clemency by Schapelle Corby on grounds of mental instability [One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest] brought some stinging comments:
Barry Ascott wrote:
"Don't worry SBY, Corby didn't respect Indonesian law so why should she expect consideration for clemency. Don't be fooled by the doctor's report."
Wendy, a New Zealander living in Australia, said:
"Poor Schapelle, find her a nice mental facility in Java, give her the best room they have, buy her some dolls and send the Corby's the account."