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Culture has its Costs

Broad-Based Bali Forum Established to Fight for Central Government Funding for the High Cost of Sustaining Baliís Culture

(2/17/2012) Kompas.com reports that the Forum to Fight for the Rights of Bali (Forum Perjuangan Hak Bali – FPHB) was declared Sunday, February 12, 2012 at a gathering at the Bali Museum in Denpasar.

The chairman of FPBH, Anak Agung Sudiana, said the group was formed to fight for the rights of the Balinese by lobbying the Central Government in Jakarta for funding to develop and sustain Bali’s culture.

“The bottom line is a desire to fight for a revision of the laws for a share of national revenues that can be used to fund Bali’s traditional villages and efforts to preserve tradition, culture and local initiatives that will, in the end, support tourism,” Sudiana explained.

He went on to outline how the FPHB seeks special consideration from Jakarta, particularly as regards the care and maintenance of Bali’s many cultural assets.

“Bali makes a substantial contribution to the national government via its tourism industry. In fact, the tourism sector is rooted in the culture and initiatives of the Balinese,” said Sudiana.

The FPHB’s membership includes community leaders, religious figures, cultural experts and members of the Denpasar and Provincial House of Representatives.

Sudiana said the Forum’s formation was based on Bali’s tourism industry’s dominant national role as a source of foreign exchange and state revenues.

He complained that the Central Government has never funded the preservation of Bali's culture. On the other hand, he points out that the Balinese spend trillions of rupiahs every year on culture-related expenses.

According to Sudiana’s calculations: “In fact, 45% of the foreign exchange is contributed by the tourism sector, which equals Rp. 40 trillion (US$4.4 billion) generated by Bali to Jakarta each year. But where’s the ‘reward and punishment’ given to Bali? There is none!”

The Forum says the people of Bali have always paid the costs of conservation and preservation of culture, including physical structures such as temples, the presentation of the arts and the creation of cultural venues.

“After declaring its demands, this Forum will socialize its message to the regions of Bali, because we need a united voice among the Balinese people for the struggle ahead,” commented Nyoman Dhamantra who is a member of the FPHB.

The FPHB also plans to hold seminars where the findings and conclusions will be forwarded to the Minister of Finance and the President.