BALI UPDATE #395 - 05 April 2004
Editorial: The Nation Votes
Will the Current Round of National Elections Be Perfectly Smooth? - If It Were So, Then We'd Really Start to Worry!
Some 147 million eligible voters headed to the polls in Indonesia on Monday, April 5, 2004, in the first round of direct elections to choose representatives for Indonesia's senate, national and provincial legislatures, and local governing councils.
The option of being allowed to vote directly for the candidate of their choice is a new experience for Indonesians; past elections only permitting voters to select a party of their choice. Now, for the first time in the Nation's 58-year history, Indonesians are being asked to assess the qualities and strength of those who aspire to public office covering the range from local governing councils up to the office of the Nation's President.
A Celebration of Democracy
Indonesia's bold step forward in the democratic process, represented by the current election process, has been likened to a celebratory party. And, like any good party, the mix of participants is wide-ranging, with over 24 parties competing for votes.
Messy and unorganized? - To be sure! Highly unpredictable in its final outcome or, as described in the election-day edition of The Jakarta Post, akin to "buying a cat in a bag"? - You bet!
Are there monstrous logistical problems in distributing over 660 different ballots to nearly 600,000 polling stations spread over 17,000 islands? Next question? - But, we'll muddle through somehow! If Florida's experience in the last U.S. Presidential election is any kind of benchmark, the "bar" in assessing fair and open elections has not been set impossibly high.
We're Learning Democracy, One Vote at a Time
Perhaps aware of the daunting task that lies ahead of them, the Indonesians have wisely organized the present elections to play themselves over 2, and very likely 3 rounds over the coming 5 months.
Votes cast on Monday, April 5, will elect 550 representatives to the national parliament and, at the same time, decide which parties are entitled to participate in the next round of elections on July 5, 2004. Only those parties securing 3 percent of the seats in the national legislature will be allowed to field candidates in the July polls for Indonesia's first directly elected President and Vice-President.
As a safety gap and to ensure whoever runs the Nation can rightly claim a democratic mandate, rules require that should a Presidential candidate fail to secure 51% of the vote on July 5, an additional election round between the two presidential candidates securing the most votes will be held on September 20, 2004.
The past month of campaigning by 7,800 candidates seeking 550 seats of legislative power in Jakarta has passed remarkably smoothly. Incidents of over-enthusiastic electioneering, when they did occur, were quickly addressed by election officials urged on by lawyers representing the opposing political parties. These checks and balances of freely expressed political differences have proven themselves effective arbitrators of fairness and truth in the election process.
While the 3 - 5 month long series of polls has yet to run its course, early indications show that the Indonesian people are both ready and able to address a full-fledged encounter with democracy.
And, should our festival of democracy be occasionally over-spirited we'll accept that fact as the hallmark of a truly democratic process, certain in the knowledge that we'll emerge on the other side of the process a stronger, more stable and pluralistic society.
Democracy: We wouldn't have it any other way.
Conrad has Landed
Conrad Hotel's CEO Mr. Clement Barter Meets the Press and Brings Conrad Brand to Indonesia – Starting with Bali.
On Thursday, April 1, 2004, Mr. Clement Barter, President of Conrad Hotels came to Bali to inspect his chain's first Indonesian property and meet with members of the local press corps.
Traveling from his corporate headquarters in Brussels, Barter outlined the 5 - 6 years process necessary to bring a hotel of his company's uncompromising standard to a destination. In addition to the time required to find a suitable location there are also protracted processes that must be completed to design the property, obtain the necessary permits and licenses, and secure financing.
Mr. Barter explained that the fact that the decision to embark on the project of building a 313-room luxury property in Bali was commenced years ago, in the midst of a period of political and economic uncertainty, is reflective of his company's commitment to Indonesia and abiding belief in the brand equity of Bali as a leading tourist destination.
With the opening of the Bali resort, Conrad Hotels brings to 16 the number of hotels it operates worldwide, with six new properties coming on line in the last 3 years. Plans for expansion of the brand call for 50 hotels to be in operation by 2010.
Conrad Hotels currently operates properties in Brussels; London; Dublin and Mount Juliet (Ireland); Cairo, Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh in Egypt; Istanbul; Hong Kong; Singapore; Bangkok; Uruguay; New York; and most recently, Bali. New properties are nearing completion and scheduled for opening in Phuket (Thailand), Tokyo and Las Vegas.
Mr. Barter expressed his satisfaction with the outstanding quality of the opening team in place at the Bali property and the extensive pre-opening training program completed. At present, some 365 employees work at the Bali property; a number that will grow by another 100 when all rooms and hotel facilities are completely on line.
Mr. Barter predicted that the Bali property would quickly win praise and accolades from the traveling public duplicating the success of the Conrad Bangkok which managed to be cited as Best New Hotel and Best New Business Hotel Worldwide in less than 1 year after its opening in April 2003.
Serving as General Manager for the Conrad Bali Resort & Spa is veteran Bali hotelier, Mr. Michael Burchett who helped open the award winning Four Seasons Resort at Jimbaran.
Immigration Chief Unhappy With Taiwan Press Report
Claims of Corruption in Immigration Process Bring Stern Response from Chief of Bali's Airport Immigration Office.
Reports in the Taipei-based Mandarin language newspaper United Daily on March 30, 2004, that Bali's Ngurah Rai Airport immigration officers were actively seeking bribes of between US$ 2 - 10 each from arriving Taiwanese visitors in order to expedite the visa-on-arrival process, has earned a spirited response from Mr. Gede Wirdiartha, the Chief of the Airport's Immigration Office.
The article, entitled "Bali's Ngurah Rai Immigration Seek Red Envelopes from Visiting Taiwan Tourists," reportedly quoted a Mr. Wu of the Taiwan Tourist Association (TATA) who claimed waiting times of up to 2.5 hours to finish the visa process are being used by officials to extract an additional US$ 2 - 3 for handling the passport of each group member and US$ 10 from Taiwanese tourists traveling on an individual basis.
Claiming the Tawianese press reports were "tendentious" and were intended to slander and demoralize his department, Mr. Widiartha told the local press that he had already contacted the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce Office (KADIN) in Taipei to seek further clarification. He demanded that if bribes were indeed being paid to his officers that he be given the details of time and officers involved in order that he can immediately take corrective steps.
According to Mr. Widiartha, quoted in the Bali Post (20/3): "I am not defending my staff. If this has actually happened (the bribes), I will certainly take action. But please provide me with complete and accurate data. Don't slander us at long distance."
Reports filed in the past with the immigration office of malfeasance by uniformed staff have been investigated and resulted in transfers and other administrative sanctions for staff found to be abusing their duties.
To Russia And Beyond with Love
Indonesia's Tall-Ship Dewaruci Sets Sail on Global Friendship Tour.
Indonesia's only tall-ship, the KRI Dewaruci set sail from Jakarta on Friday, April 2, 2004, on a 114-day global friendship and training tour.
A 3-masted barquentine built in 1953, the 191-foot long Dewaruci, with its 75-member crew and cadet complement of 68, will visit Singapore, Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Hong Kong, Fuzhou (PRC), Shanghai (PRC), Nampo (North Korea), Inch'on (South Korea), Vladivostok (Russia), Tokyo, Naha (Japan) and Manila.
Before returning to port in Surabaya Indonesia's tall ship and its uniformed friendship ambassadors will have sailed 12,167 nautical miles, spending 72 days at sea and 33 days in port calls.
The Philip and Graham Show
Pesamuan Founders, Philip Lakeman and Graham Oldroyd, Mark 10 Years in Bali with a Painting and Ceramics Exhibition.
10 years ago in 1994, Philip Lakeman and Graham Oldroyd moved to Bali from Australia to establish Pesamuan Keramik - a venture they set up with the help of the late Mr. Wija Waworuntu and Brent Hesselyn. Over the past decade the workshop and gallery has enjoyed considerable success receiving commissions worldwide.
While both Philip and Graham say the past 10 years have been filled with hard work and fun, this period of their 15 year partnership has also produced special projects for high profile hotels, resorts, restaurants and other public spaces, as well as popular products for their wholesale and retail range. Vast collections of tile work, furniture, lighting and home ware items have been introduced. In the U.S., their colorful and distinctive tile work is distributed nationally by Walker Zanger and on a regional basis by Renaissance Tile & Bath. In Taiwan, a new retail store, exclusively carries a complete set of Pesamuan products, is situated at SOGO, Taipei.
To celebrate the past 10 years in Bali, Graham and Philip have created a special celebratory exhibition open through June 3, 2004, at Jenggala Keramik Bali on Jalan Uluwatu II in Jimbaran.
Open daily, call Jenggala Keramik Bali for more information at telephone ++62-(0)361-703311 or facsimile ++62-(0)361-703312.
Bali's Thermal Energy
Local Company Exploring Feasibility of Thermal Energy Generation.
A local concern, Bali Energy Limited, in collaboration with the state oil company, PT Pertamina have rejuvenated a long-stalled project to explore the feasibility of thermal energy generation in the areas surrounding the Balinese municipality of Bedugul.
The project, halted in the monetary crisis of 1997, is again back on track and targeted to undertake energy production tests in the period between May and July of 2004. If successful, this will be followed by the sinking of drill holes expected to produce energy on a small scale sometime in 2005.
The Bali operation is headed by a veteran tourism businessman now venturing into the energy sector, Mr. Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya, who recently told the local press that the project is currently busy socializing the project to surrounding communities in Bedugul, paving the way for their acceptance of a project expected to produce 10 MW of continuous power by April 2006. Subsequent phases of the project are scheduled to produce an additional 55 MW by June 2008; 55 MW more by June 2009; and another 55 MW by June of 2010.
According to Mr. Wijaya, US$ 46.7 million has already been invested in the project covering the cost of geophysical surveys, test drilling, and infrastructure creation.
Nationwide Indonesia has identified 80 potential production centers for geothermal energy production with a potential output of 20,000 MW of electricity. Indonesia is considered the fourth most potential source of thermal energy after the U.S.A., Philippines and Mexico.
As reported in the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia, the work contract between the Government and the local company has a 30 year production lease following the actual commencement of commercial operations with a 4% profit share payable to the Government and a 34% share for Pertamina. The balance of any profits will go to Bali Energy Limited.
Tourism Needs its Own Department
Political Parties Voice Support for Strengthening Tourism's Role in National Development.
At a recent forum held in Jakarta entitled The Vision and Commitment of Political Parties to Indonesian Tourism, a number of the country's leading political parties voiced their support for giving the tourism sector a larger representative role in the national policy making process.
The forum, sponsored by the Tourism Journalists Forum for Communication (FORPAR), included panelists from the following political parties: The Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI Perjuangan); People's Awakening Party (Partai Kebangkitan Bangsa); The National Mandate Party (Partai Amanat Nasional); The New Indonesia Party (Partai Perhimpunan Indonesia Baru); and the People's United Democracy Party (Partai Persatuan Demokrasi Kebangsaan). Also participating in the meeting were representatives from the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) and the Indonesian Conference and Convention Association (INCCA).
Rejecting the Elimination of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism
As reported in the April 3, 2004, edition of the Indonesian-language Bisnis Indonesia, participants at the forum were generally unified in their opposition to current moves to either eliminate the Ministry of Culture and Tourism or amalgamate its functions into another government department.
Adrian Maelite, representing the People's United Democracy Party, said it would be "very sad" if the Ministry of Culture and Tourism were absorbed into another department. He stressed that now is the time for tourism to have a larger voice in order to increase the much needed foreign exchange it generates for the Nation." He added, "in the future tourism must hold the top position (in earning foreign exchanges) and not only be viewed as an alternative (source of foreign exchange)."
The Chairperson of the PHRI, Ms. Yanti Sukamdani, stressed that Indonesia needs a department charged with tourism affairs in order to forge cooperative agreements on a cross-sector basis. Only in this way, according to Ms. Sukamdani, "can tourism generate foreign exchange and create new employment opportunities."
The PHRI Chairperson presented examples that showed how Indonesia was operating in ways contrary to trends elsewhere in the world. She pointed out that Malaysia recently split its culture and tourism departments, giving tourism a "stand-alone" status in government affairs. Similarly, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia have both recently acknowledged the importance of tourism by creating national tourism departments.
Mr. Ben Sukma, the Chairman of the Indonesian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (ASITA), echoed these sentiments, calling for a return to the style of the 1980's when tourism had its own department in conjunction with the Department of Telecommunications.
Declining Prominence of Tourism Sector
In 1995, tourism generated foreign exchange revenues totaling US$ 5.3 billion, beating out the second-place oil and natural resource sector that tallied US$ 5.2 billion. By 1999 tourism had slipped into decline producing only US$ 4.3 billion outpaced by the oil and natural resource sector at US$ 4.6 billion.
Change in U.K. Travel Warnings Imminent?
Various U.K. Press Reports Say Foreign Office Will Soon Adopt New Approach to Travel Warnings.
Separate press reports from major U.K. papers in the first two days of April 2004 suggest the U.K. Foreign Office is preparing to review and reduce the number of travel warnings issued against travel abroad.
In an article by
Anton La Guardia on April 2, 2004 at www.telegraph.co.uk [Terrorism Travel Warnings Reduced
], said: "The Foreign Office yesterday signalled it would reduce the number of warnings against travel to countries at risk of terrorist attacks, saying the current system risked causing too much political and economic 'collateral damage'."
Quoting U.K. Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, the article indicates that his office is embracing the view that in the future travel warnings will only be issued in the face of specific information of an imminent terrorist attack. According to the Telegraph
, Jack Straw said that in issuing travel warnings "we must make sure we do not do the terrorists' job by causing too much of the very disruption which they want."
A separate article in The Scotsman
published on April 1, 2004, written by James Lyon, also reported that an easing of travel warnings was now likely following the release of a Whitehall white-paper
in support of such a step.
That paper suggested that too many warnings cause the public to ignore real dangers. Therefore it recommended that future warnings be based on specific threats that will be, as a result, potentially more successful in preventing death and injury.
The article - [Fewer Warnings Likely on Terror Threat to Travellers
] - quoted the Whitehall Study that stated: "Statistically terrorism overseas represents a relatively small risk to UK travellers. But the nature of terrorism means it is viewed quite differently to other risks."
The same article pointed our that from 316 U.K. travelers who died on non-natural causes while abroad in 2003, only 39 can be attributed to terrorism; 26 of whom died in the Bali Bombing. Of the remaining who perished while on a trip, 158 were killed in traffic accidents and 57 committed suicide.
In January 2004, balidiscovery.com
made a submission to Mr. Robert Chatterton Dickson, the Travel Advice Reviewer at Whitehall in London who prepared the white-paper
that precipitated the reported imminent change in policy on travel warning. Our comments to Whitehall are available on the link at the end of this article.
Update on Dengue Fever
Bali Health Office Issues Update on Hemorrhagic Fever.
The Association of Indonesian Travel Agents (ASITA) has circulated an official update from Bali Health Department on the current outbreak of Dengue Fever - known locally as Deman Berdarah (DB).
The official announcement (Nomor: 443.42/187/P2M/Dikes) dated March 26, 2004, reported:
• During the month of January 2004, 69 cases of DB were reported in Bali without any fatalities.
• During the month of February 2004, 439 cases were reported in Bali resulting in 2 deaths; A Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 0.46%.
• For the month of March 2004 through March 22, 2004, 1,171 cases were reported in Bali resulting in 3 fatalities (CFR=0.25%).
• Through March 22, 2004, the reported incidents of DB infection for the entire province of Bali stood at 36.41 infections per 100,000 residents of the island.
The Bali Health Department has taken the following steps in confronting the current outbreak of DB:
• Developments in combatting the outbreak and new cases of DB are continually reported to the Governor's office.
• The Health Department is monitoring all cases at all hospitals on the Island.
• All cases confirmed in hospitals and clinics in the city of Denpasar are reported back to the administrative unit at the residential address of the patient in order that a search for related cases can be conducted and steps taken to eradicate the local mosquitoes population as a source of further infection.
• All local administrative units on the island are receiving periodic updates on the progress of the disease and undertaking coordinated programs to control DB's spread.
• Insecticides (e.g. CYBOFF 25 ULV) and Abate 1SG are being distributed to all administrative units on the island as required to combat DB.
• Ringer's Lactate is being supplied to clinics and hospitals for use in intravenous transfusion to those suffering from DB.
• Public education through the print and electronic media is being used to establish an interactive dialogue with the community on steps that must be taken to combat DB.
• Epidemiological studies are made by the Health Department of all cases of DBD uncovered in urban areas.
• Fogging, based on the results obtained from the epidemiological studies, is carried out on affected areas.
• General fogging was being carried out throughout Bali together with competitions to eradicate mosquitoes in banjars in the City during the month of February 2004.
Most cases of DB are reported in heavily populated urban areas of the city where rubbish or stagnant water is allowed to accumulate. Reported cases traced back by epidemiological studies to hotels and resorts on the island are extremely rare with virtually all hotels and resorts having fogging programs in combination with nesting control monitoring to keep their guests free of the disease transmitted through the bites of the edes aegypti mosquito.
Precious Babies Now Nesting at Bali's Bird Park
4 Very Rare Bali Starlings Join 1,500 Feathered Friends at Island's Famous Aviary Park.
Bali Bird Park has dedicated the entire months of April and May 2004 to family fun at the 2-hectare park in Singapadu, Gianyar that serves as a happy home to over 1,500 birds representing 250 species.
The two-month long celebration commences with an egg painting competition for children April 9-11, 2004, followed by a traditional Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday. On other days throughout the two month long family fun celebration, activities at the Park will be designed to maximize interaction and education for families visiting the facility.
The Park's Newest Residents
A special attraction at the park during this period will be the chance to see four very rare Bali Starlings or Jalak Bali - the first hatchlings of these blue-masked and virtually extinct birds at the Park since 2002.
Prized by collectors who flout the law in order to lay personal claim to this vanishing species of bird, a Jalak Bali will fetch as much as Rp. 10 - 15 million (approximately US$ 1,176 - US$ 1,764) for a bird on the black market. The bird's existence was first recorded in 1912 by an English ornithologist, Walter Rothschild, who immediately dubbed the bird the Rothschild's Mynah. Endemic only to the island of Bali, it now ranks among one of the world's most endangered birds.
The Jalak Bali usually produces only 2-3 babies to a nest, making the recent birth of four to a single nesting pair at the Park an especially blessed event. Thriving on a diet of crickets and mealworms, along with their daily supplemental diet of fruits and ants pupae (or kroto), the babies and their proud parents can be seen every day at the Bali Bird Park.
Talk is No Longer Cheap
Phone Rates Increased Effective April 1, 2004.
The State telephone monopoly has increased most telephone rates, effective April 1, 2004:
• Local calls will increase 28.21%. A short local call of less than 3 minutes will now cost Rp. 250 (approximately US$ 0.03), an increase from the old rate of Rp. 195.
• The monthly subscription fee for a residential telephone line has increased 25% and will now cost between Rp. 16,500 – Rp. 20,600 (approximately US$ 1.94 – US$ 2.42).
• The monthly subscription fee for a business line has been increased to cost between Rp. 38,400 – Rp. 57,600 (approximately US$ 4.52 – US$ 6.78).
• Long distance calls of between 20-30 kilometers now cost between Rp. 83 – Rp. 163 per minute (approximately US$ 0.01 – US$ 0.02).
• Telephone rates for calls beyond 30 kilometers have in fact been reduced by 30% as of April 1.
The most recent spate of rate increases is expected to increase PT Telkom's turnover by 9%.
April 5 and July 5 Declared National Holiday
Government Decides to Give Everyone Election Day Off.
In order to facilitate the election process, the Government of Indonesia has formally declared Monday, April 5, 2004, and Monday, July 5, 2004, as public holidays. On those dates, respectively, nation-wide elections for the House of Representatives and first round of the President and Vice-Presidential elections will be held.
The decision to make polling days into holidays was announced by Indonesia's Minister for the People's Welfare, Mr. Jusuf Kalla, on March 29, 2004 who said, "the decision has been provided for in Law number 12 of 2003 regarding the General Election." By declaring polling days as official holidays the Government hopes to maximize voter turnout allowing Indonesians to cast their votes at polling places located near their place of residence.
20 September 2004?
Under the current election rules if a Presidential candidate does not emerge with 51% share of the vote on July 5 a final election run-off vote between the two top ranking candidates is scheduled to be held on Septmber 20. If, as widely expected, the second round of voting does materialize this will mean that Monday, September 20, 2004, will also be declared a national holiday.