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Law and Order: Bali

Editorial: Without the Rule of Law, Bali and Its Investors Face a Doubtful Future.

(4/9/2011) A recent report in Beritabali.com quotes Wayan Suantra, the chief of the Bali Branch of Real Estate Indonesia (REI) as urging Bali's regents to quickly ratify and implement the 2009 zoning law (RTRW 2009) in order to resolve an atmosphere of legal uncertainty that is proving an impediment to investment in Bali.

Uncertainty Revisited

We endorse Suantra's comments and question the wisdom of those who complain that current efforts in to close down and demolish illegal buildings and businesses will somehow scare business away from Bali.

We believe the truth of the matter is just the opposite.

In fact, it is precisely the years of a "pay-as-you-go" laissez-faire approach to development that has brought Bali to its unhappy current state of affairs.

On an island with poisoned rivers, polluted beaches and occupied by developers who think they can somehow magically improve the look of an escarpment fashioned by nature over millennia - something desperately needs to be done. Running low on water, short of electrical power, congested with traffic and marginalizing the endemic Balinese who are unable to pay escalating property tax rates, let alone dream of owning a piece of their homeland Bali is developmentally heading in the wrong direction.

Bali's future attractiveness, both as a place to live and do business, depends on a system of transparent and impartially enforced rules. This is the "certainty" Bali craves.

Well-written laws enforced without favor or compromise have the potential of saving Bali and reversing its current insidious decline. Governor Pastika's brave push to bring the RTRW 2009 into full effect is a bold and important step worthy of every one's support. If past projects that played dare with the law, assuming rules could ignore and sorted out at a later date, become casualties of the current battle to save the island that will be a very small price to pay to keep Bali sustainable and beautiful for generations to come.

The final irony is that if Bali succeeds in this sacred quest, the naysayers who suggest enforcing the rules threatens investment will be proven wrong. Good investors like the predictability that comes with the rule of law; knowing that it they play by the rules everyone else must also do the same.