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Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset Launches Bali's First Nightwear Fund Raiser.
As Eric Idle once said when introducing a man with three buttocks: "And now for something completely different" . . . . . . the Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset is presenting its first "annual" Pajama Party Fundraiser at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 29, 2009. Slated to take place at the Tony Taka Art Gallery in Mas, Ubud, organizers promise an evening loosely organized around a Pajama Party theme, the highlights of which include: • Dress Code: - Come as you are, or go as you went! Be creative and wear what you like, but guests are invited to attend in elegant pajamas, loungewear or in hair rollers, face cream and comfy bed shirt. • Food - In keeping with the style and character of the Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset, the evening will be a community affair. Accordingly, chef's from some of Ubud's best restaurants, including Ary's Warung, Plantation at Alila Ubud, Lamak, Maya Ubud, Terazo, Siam Sally and Kué - will combine forces to prepare a menu of mouthwatering "comfort foods." • Entertainment - They'll be music during dinner served in the main art gallery followed by a garden dance performance by Bali's world renowned Nyoman Sura Dance Troupe performing a special composition created for the evening entitled "Dreaming." • Special Auction - Bali's Update Editor Jack Daniels and Ubud's culture Diva Rucina Ballinger will serve as guest auctioneer for the evening selling a range of enticing experiential items. Among the valuable and unusual items open for bids will be a self-designed piece of jewelry from John Hardy Jewelry and KTI Design Studio; a private tour through the Kopi Bali Coffee Bean Roasting factory including an introduction to the world's most expensive cup of coffee - kopi luwak; and an exclusive private portrait photography shot by Ubud's very own Rio Helmi. These are just a few of a number of items offered for sale during the course of the evening. • Atlas South Sea Pearl Company is also offering a free tour of their North Bali pearl farm including transportation for everyone who attends the Pajama Party." Tickets for the evening are only Rp. 450,000 (US$45) with proceeds from the evening in support of the many community service projects run by the Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunet . Tickets can be purchased from club members or at the Roda Internet Café on Jalan Bisma (across from the Café des Artistes or at Biku in Petitenget at telephone ++62-(0)8123901142.
Prosecutors to Pursue Immigration Corruption Scandal?
Radar Bali: Prosecutors May File Criminal Charges Following Administrative Sanctions Given to 44 Bali Airport Immigration Officers.
As reported on balidiscovery.com, State Auditors recently uncovered the misappropriation of Rp. 3 billion (US$300,000) in visa-on-arrival fees committed by 44 members of the immigration service assigned to Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport. Plans to bring the case to a quick resolution via the requirement to repay the state its lost revenues and the imposition of administrative sanctions against the 44 civil servants may not be enough to satisfy State Prosecutors who are threatening to bring the immigration officers to court. According to Radar Bali, prosecutors are accumulating data in an ongoing investigation into the case. An unnamed prosecutor explained to Radar Bali: "If everyone caught in an act of corruption only had to repay state funds to avoid a trial, there would never be any corruption cases brought before the courts. In fact, the return of the state funds (in this case) can be seen as strong proof that a mistake or crime has been committed." As reported previously, the State suffered a loss of Rp. 3 billion (US$300,000) between October 2008 and May 2009 when 44 airport immigration officers under-reported fees collected for visas-on-arrival. Based on a written decision issued by the Minister of Law and Human Rights, the 44 civil servants received a reduction in rank and were each compelled to repay the State a sum between Rp. 70 and Rp. 100 million.. The prosecutor told the paper that he would attempt to enforce the law without bias or favor, saying, "whoever breaks or opposes the law must be prepared to accept responsibility for their acts before the courts." The same source cited the misuse of the visa-on-arrival funds as a manipulation of non-tax state revenues. The case at the Bali airport represented a misuse of authority and, as such, should be considered an act of corruption. Adding: "Even though they have returned the money prior to a criminal investigation being launched, their intent to misappropriate State funds is sufficiently proven to make a case of corruption." When approached by Radar Bali, the Provincial Chief for the Department of Law and Human Rights, Arman Nazar, refused to comment on the case, saying it was the right of the prosecutors or the Anti-Corruption Board (KPK) to seek to continue the case. Nonetheless, Arman did say that the punishments handed out to the immigration officers was sufficiently severe. The reduction in one grade of rank, he explained, was the equivalent of having the four years of a promotion rotation tossed away. "To be promoted one grade you need four years of service. If someone goes down one rank, that means the past four years have been for nothing," he said. Related Articles [Bali Immigration Officers Avoid Criminal Charges] [Corruption Scandal at Bali’s Airport]
The Changing Face of Bali
Editorial: Balinese Development Expert Outlines How Balinese are Becoming Disenfranchised from the Land that was Once their Birthright.
An article below was originally published in The Jakarta Post on Tuesday, August 4, 2009. Written by Balinese Ketut Kartika Inggas, it underlines impact the tourism industry is having on the island's culture and traditional life style. Inggas is an alumnae of University of East Anglia, England (MA in Development Studies), currently working in Bangkok:
Getting a Bigger Share of Bali's Tourism Pie
Pan Merta stared emptily at a small corner of the rice field in front of him. His only son, Putu, was running around barefoot chasing away birds trying to eat the rice grains. He remembers many years back when he was his son's age: He also liked to chase the birds away with the other village boys, only then the rice field was much larger - at least ten times its size now - and all the land belonged to his father. Now, almost all of this huge paddy field of his youth has changed into a five-star resort. The rest, the little piece of the land that is still used to grow rice, is not his property any more. Pan Merta's childhood was wonderful. After school, he always ran to his family's paddy field and played there until sunset. Little Merta always had enough to eat, wore new clothes for the Galungan holidays, and the whole family were always together. Now, these are only sweet memories that taste bitter, especially when he realizes he cannot bequeath those great childhood experiences to his young Putu. His son often sleeps with an empty stomach, and had to drop out after elementary school because his father's income as a tenant farmer was not enough to pay for his tuition and books. Pan Merta is not alone. Unfortunately there are many victims of Bali's tourism development that emphasizes only the competition for more investment without sufficiently preventing its negative impacts. The beauty of the island, the unique Balinese culture, and its friendly smiling people have made Bali one of the top tourist destinations for decades. The island's tourism industry has brought many investors to Bali to build five-star hotels and international chains. With the open tap of investment that encourages Balinese to sell their land, now the most desirable spaces in Bali no longer belong to Balinese. Most of the land with the best economic prospects is now owned by non-Balinese. Maybe at first, Balinese were happy with the instant gratification of receiving a lot of money at once when they sold the land. But now, there is nothing left. The money they got from selling their land disappeared in consumption spending. What is left now is only poverty, as with Pan Merta. But Pan Merta's story gets worse. The village leader forced his father to sell the land, claiming it had become too dry to be cultivated anymore. His father nervously sold the land cheaply, only to find out later there was a conspiracy among the village leader, the developers and the irrigation officials to cut off the water supply to his land. Not long after that, his family watched in anger the construction of a big resort commenced on what used to be their land. Of course, there are many Balinese who have better stories than Pan Merta - stories of those who suddenly became rich by selling their land and reinvested the money in profitable businesses. It is also true that the many years of booming tourism has boosted the Bali economy, created more jobs for the people, and given alternatives to Balinese to just being poor farmers. The traditional Balinese concept of Tri Hita Karana - the Balinese Hindu norm that keeps harmony and balance between humans and God, humans and humans, and humans and the environment, has frequently been ignored. Ignoring this concept continues to erode Bali's environment and degrade Balinese social, cultural and religious life. In the name of maximizing return on investment, so much has been sacrificed; environment problem, friction among the community, and the shifting of Balinese way of life from agrarian to a commercial and consumption based society. Bali cannot deny that its economy depends on tourism. Indeed it is the island's major source of income. Data from Bali trade office recorded that tourism contributed about 60 percent of the region's income. Reports say that Bali, one of Indonesia's 33 provinces, generates between US$2 and 3 billion a year from its tourism industry, which contributes 30 percent to the total national tourism income. However, it is also very important to ensure that tourism development will not debase Balinese culture, its environment, and its people. Rapid investment in the tourism industry means nothing if Balinese are swept away and marginalized. For this reason, tourism should also give priority to lifting Balinese out of poverty. If related stakeholders ignore this premise, sad stories like Pan Merta's will more and more mark Balinese life. Related Editorial [Editorial: Bali at the Crossroads]
Bali Police Chief Convenes Security Meeting
Bali Hotel Managers Attend Monthly Briefing to Coordinate Safety and Security Measures.
Beritabali.com reports Bali's newly appointed Chief of Police, General Sutisna, convened a meeting of Bali Hotel Managers and those charged with security matters on Tuesday, August 11, 2009, to coordinate the war on terrorism currently being waged across Indonesia. Held at a Nusa Dua Hotel, the meeting's participants included Bali's Chief of Police Inspector General Sutisna, the operational chief of Bali's tourism police, the head of the Bali detachment of the elite Densus 88 anti-terror squad, managers of local hotels and their security chiefs. Part of a monthly gathering held under the auspices of the Bali Hotel Association (BHA), these face-to-face meetings allow Bali's police to exchange the latest information on perceived threats, modus operandi employed by terrorists groups and the latest intelligence concerning the ever-changing security situation worldwide. At the inaugural August gathering, General Sutisna declared that safety and security are a shared responsibility between the police and the local community. The Bali police officials warned those attending the meeting that Bali's role as a world tourism destination makes its very susceptible to terrorists. Because of this, the island must remain vigilant in every aspect of its security precautions. General Sutisna said, "the provincial police of Bali will always endeavor to keep Bali safe, coordinating with all elements of the community to achieve that goal." The meeting also included a briefing on the recent bombing in Jakarta provided by the head of Bali's elite Densus 88 anti-terror unit, Dewa Putu Anom. Dewa warned that the Jakarta attacks proved that terrorists are still operating in Indonesia and are likely to continue to attack targets in all parts of the country. Potential targets include assets, national officials, infrastructure and international events and conferences. The Densus 88 official said that an extensive program of software and equipment is in operation in Bali hotels. Among the measures in operation include CCTV camera and security doors. The anti-terror policeman told hotels to check their CCTV systems regularly in order to identify potential terrorists activities. Dewa bemoaned the fact that some CCTV systems installed at some Bali hotels need better repair and maintenance. Bearing in mind that terrorists are now known to recruit hotel staff, Dewa called for stricter checks to be carried out at both public and employee entrances to hotels. The Head of operations for the Bali police, Hary Prasetya, told the security gathering that his office would soon establish a system of communication between hotel security teams and local police as a step toward enhanced coordination. Hotels Fully Booked The meeting also monitored arrivals to Bali in the weeks following the latest Jakarta terrorist bombing, reporting that visitor levels remain very strong, despite the threat of terror and a troublesome world economy. August is traditionally Bali's high season. That fact, in combination with a major conference being held in Bali and an approaching "long weekend" meant that virtually all hotels in Ubud and the island's south were fully booked, just three weeks after the Jakarta terrorist bombings.
Tony Blair and Family on Bali Holiday
Ubud Luxury Resort and Elephant Safari Park at Taro Visited by Britain's Former Prime Minister and Family.
The Rt. Hon Anthony "Tony" Charles Lynton Blair and his wife, Cherie, took advantage of the August holidays to bring their four children to Bali.
Britain's former Prime Minister, special international envoy to the Middle East and journeyman on the international lecture circuit stayed in Bali at the [Como Shambhala Estate ] and enjoyed excursions to many of Bali's sites and attractions, including a day at the [Elephant Safari Park at Taro]. While at the Elephant Park, the Blair family were hosted by the Park's owner, Nigel Mason, who introduced the visitors to the "herd" including a group of baby elephants born at the park. Later, the entire family "climbed on board" a group of elephants for a tour of the Park. The Blair's left Bali on Saturday, August 15, 2009, traveling on to China, the next stop on their holiday tour. Shown on balidiscovery.com are pictures taken during the Blair family visit to Bali.
Making Tourism Work for the Balinese
Family-based Sustainable Tourism Project at Tampaksiring - a Model worthy of Emulation.
Local economic development (LED) and job opportunities for youth (JOY) are widely accepted as the cornerstones of creating sustainable tourism. And, while often honored more in principle than in actual practice, a laudable exception to this situation is the newly inaugurated Bayad Eco Resort and Bali Eco Adventure in Banjar Bayad located on the outskirts of Tampaksiring. The General Manager of the trekking-oriented nature park is "local boy," I Ketut Sunarta, a former tour guide who sees the park as a veritable "land bank" allowing Balinese to hold onto their diminishing land resources. Working with local investors, Sunarta has managed to establish eco-friendly bungalow complex, a restaurant and spa that complement a series of nature treks along the banks of the sacred Penatu river covering the lands and producing supplemental revenues for 34 local farming families. The brainchild of Sunarta and Swiss-investor Peter Studer, the park aims to leave a minimum footprints on the pristine hill environment while creating a sustainable business model that provides tangible benefits to people of Banjar Bayad. Investors who pay approximately US$40,000 are given an initial 25 year lease on an attractive tree-top villa that they can occupy for 100 days a year. An additional one-hectare lot is also under development for use in animal husbandry and plantings as part of an overall plan to make the project self-sufficient in food production. Among the plants currently being cultivated are passion fruit, mangos, ginger and a whole range of local fruits and vegetables. Profits from the project are allocated 50% to investors, 30% for land owners and 10% to the local community. Related Links [Bali Eco Adventure: Sustainable Tourism in Bali's Highlands] [Bali Eco Adventure]
Illegal Villas are Big Business in Bali’s Gianyar Regency
Estimated 75% of Commercial Villas in Bali's Gianyar Regency are Operating Illegally.
A special committee of the Regional House of Representatives from the regency of Gianyar in Bali has estimated that 60% of that district's potential hotel and restaurant tax income is lost via illegal commercial villas who side-step their tax obligations. Quoted in beritabali.com, the Gianyar Head of the agency charged with permits, Nyoman Sukanada, said that if these report are true, he hoped the villa owners would soon take the steps necessary to register their villas as businesses. Describing what may prove to be a step-by-step process, Sukanada suggested that some villas lack any kind of license meaning that owners may have to first obtain simple residential permits before moving on to commercial licensing. In order to hasten the registration of villas in Gianyar, Sukanada called on the Gianyar Tourism office to submit data on commercial villas in the district so that the owners could be required to obtain villa (pondok wisata) operating licenses. Of the estimated 581 commercial villas operating in Gianyar, only 143 hold valid operating licenses. According to beritabali.com many of the unlicensed villas are allowed to continue their illegal operations in order to provide "extra” income to enforcement officials. In response, the head of the Public Relations Section of the Gianyar Regency, A.A. Surya Raditya, told the press that if any officials is involved in such "playing around” they are liable to strong sanctions under the law.
Giving 'Rock Concert' a Whole New Meaning in Bali
Third Eye Blind's Stephan Jenkin Performs at the Rock Bar at Bali's Ayana Resort and Spa.
Stephan Jenkins, lead vocalist of American alternative rock band Third Eye Blind (3eb), presented a one-night-only concert on Thursday, August 12, 2009. at the "Rock Bar," the stunning new open-top bar built on natural rocks above the Indian Ocean in Bali at the Ayana Resort and Spa. Perched on a rocky ‘stage' jutting out from the cliff-face, Jenkins gave a solo performance of tracks from the band's new album ‘Ursa Major,' their first album in six years. Acceding to audience requests, Jenkin also played his past hits, including "Deep Inside You" and "Semi Charmed Life." The front man of the two-time Grammy-nominated band was visiting Bali after headlining Indonesia's largest music festival, Java Rockin Land where 3eb played before some 22,000 fans. Seduced by the beauty of Bali, Jenkins made the spontaneous decision to play in free concert at the Rock Bar for local fans, as he prepared to re-group with the rest of the band to officially release their new album on August 18 in the U.S.A.. The band is scheduled to do three shows in San Francisco, New York and West Virginia – all within the next 10 days.
"We came to Bali for the surfing and diving, and this is one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen," Jenkins said. "We've worked really hard on the new album and are now heading back to the States to officially release it." Complementing Jenkins seaside performance were appearances by DJ Zoe Noa from Amsterdam, Japanese saxophonist Chika Asamoto and a dramatic "fire-breathing" performance by local daredevils. Related Article [Stirred, Shaken and on the Rocks]
H1N1 Patients in Bali Now Treated as Outpatients
As H1N1 Pandemic Broadens Indonesian Government Changes Approach to Swine Flu Patient Care.
In the face of burgeoning new cases of the H1N1 virus or "Swine Flu" being detected in Bali, the Bali Post reports that Dr. Ken Wirasudha has announced that only confirmed cases of H1N1 Virus in which life-threatening circumstances are present will be warded at Bali's Sanglah General Hospital. Other patients infected with the virus but deemed not to be at more severe risk will be given appropriate medications and told to return to their homes and limit contact wit others as much as possible. The change from a policy of hospitalization to outpatient care reflects a larger change in policy achieved following a coordinating meeting on confronting H1N1 recently held on the island of Batam. With the illness now declared a "pandemic" by the World Health Organizaiton Indonesian medical providers have been forced to follow international practice, reserving its limited number of available hospital beds for those suffering an acute attack of H1N1 or for those suffering life-threatening complications from the disease. Related Article [Is it Time to Rethink Bali's Response to H1N1?]
Terrorance Tolerism: An Exhibition by I Ketut Teler
Balinese Artisit I Ketut Teler Explores Human Diversity and Tolerance in Ubud, Bali Exhibition September 11-30, 2009.
In his exhibition "Terrorance Tolerism" the Balinese artist I Ketut Teler explores the role diversity plays in human experience.
Using as a point of departure the Indonesian national motto of "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika" or "Unity in Diversity," Teler delves the essence of diversity - (kebhinekaan). Maintaining there is no truth in dualism, the artists sees differences in color, ideology and within clans as the source of conflict. It is the artist's contention that conflicts between going into or out of self, between soft and hard, between goodness and evil, fear and bravery can be harmonized through the application of tolerance and the acceptance of diversity as the essence of life.
Terrorance Tolerism An Exhibition of I Ketut Teler Hanna Artspace, Pengoskan, Ubud, Bali September 11 – 30, 2009.
Dancing Dragon Cottages Closed
Karen Kingston’s Popular ‘Feng Shui’ Hotel in Ahmed, Bali, Permanently Closed Due to a Business Dispute.
Bali's unique feng shui resort in Ahmed Dancing Dragon has closed. Opened by internationally acclaimed feng shui expert and best-selling author, Karen Kingston, in July 2000, Dancing Dragon Cottages applied principles of space management, space clearing and natural light in constructing a revolutionary boutique resort concept. Wiring was concealed and kept, as much as possible, away from sleeping and living areas, corners were rounded on interior spaces, and circuitous pathways across the property followed the natural energy contours of the land. Irreconcilable Differences Citing "irreconcilable difference" with her Balinese Business partner, Karen Kingston announced the closing of the hotel on the Dancing Dragon Cottage Wesbite. The announcement, dated August 12, 2009, said all furnishings and the hotel are being offered at “rock-bottom” prices for quick disposition. In what was apparently a sudden decision, Kingston thanks past guests for their support and apologized to those who had booked the hotel over the coming months. Also expressing regret over the loss of jobs the closure represents to staff of the hotel, Kingston said in her brief announcement: "There is no possibility the hotel will re-open."
Bali's Rodent Invasion Widens
Rats and Birds Continue to Play Havoc on Lives of Bali's Farmers.
As reported on balidiscovery.com, farmers in a number of areas of Bali are losing valuable crops due to a sudden upsurge in rat populations laying once productive agricultural lands virtually bare. [See: An Island in Need of a Pied Piper] Despite widespread rodent elimination programs, including the recent sacred cremation of 112,670 rats in a special ceremony in Tabanan, the Bali Post reports that the plague of rodents continues to worsen, complicated further by the reported increase of the number of marauding birds attacking rice crops that have managed to evade rodent attacks. The villages of Antosari, Selemadeg Barat in Tabanan has seen 35 hectares of rice fields laid waste after rodent attacks, with farmers claiming their entire crops has been destroyed by rats and predatory birds. Some farmers have experienced failure of two entire crop rotations, making the feeding and care of their families problematic. Efforts to curb rodent infestation using poisons have proven ineffective in securing the local rice crop. The Chief of the Tabanan Agriculture and Horticulture Department, I Gede Made Sukawijaya, acknowledged widespread crop destruction in several areas of his regency, saying he hope measures to control the rodent population would soon yield results. The mass culling and cremation of rats in Tabanan on July 17, 2009 at a cost of Rp. 250 million (US$25,000) and subsequent hunting expeditions to destroy rats has had mixed results, with some areas of Tabanan reporting improvement in harvests while other farms claiming to have been little aided in their efforts to conserve their crops.
Bali's Grapes of Wrath
Lower Produce Prices See North Bali Grape Farmers Reverting Back to Rice Agriculture.
Since mid-2007 the amount of land in the regency of Buleleng dedicated to rice agriculture has increased by 333 hectares as more and more farmers are plowing under lands once used for grape production in favor of less-expensive-to-cultivate rice varieties. Decreasing prices for grapes and the increasingly higher cost of fertilizers and pesticides have seen grape growers suffer non-sustainable losses, prompting the change to rice faming. Quoted by the Bali Post, ‘Pak' Soka, a farmer from Temekus in the Banjar District, said, "farmers are compelled to plow under their grape vines and turn their rice fields to rice agriculture." He explained that the costs associated with managing a rice crop entails fewer risks and a lower cost than trying to raise grapes. Low prices for grapes also means that farmers have sometimes been forced to watch an entire harvest spoil, while rice crops can be stored for later sale whenever market demand is low. The transformation of 333 hectares from grape production to rice fields has, however, had minimal effect on the regency’s rice production. While grape fields turn to rice production, large areas of once productive rice fields are being lost to residential projects. Between 2002 and 2006 an estimated 892 hectares of rice fields were converted to villa and residential projects. Local farmers cite a growing water crisis in Buleleng as another factor pushing the abandonment of agricultural lands to residential pursuits.
Bali's Airport: A Goose that Lays Golden Eggs
Bali's Airport Managers List Financial Contributions to the Island.
While Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport is the focus of much criticism concerning poor management, over-commercialization and appalling service, the managers of the airport recently presented “the other side of the story” detailing the many financial contributions made by the airport’s operation to the local economy. PT Angkasa Pura I (PTPAP), the airport’s management company, outlined the impact of the taxes they pay and corporate responsibility programs to the Bali Post. For the period of 2008 and the first six months of 2009, PT PAP paid the following tax contributions to Bali: • Public area lighting tax retributions of Rp. 2.109 billion (US$210,000) • Tax retributions for use of ground water Rp. 1.254 billion (US$125,400). • Building and Land taxes Rp. 13.13 billion (US$1,313,000). • Parking tax retributions Rp. 1,032 billion (US$103,200). • Contributions to the adjoining traditional villages of Kelan and Tuban Rp. 409,352 million (US$40,935). Payments made to local tax coffers by Bali’s airport earned PT PAP the distinction of being the top tax payer in the Badung regency for 2007 and 2008. In addition to taxes paid, PT PAP social responsibility contributions and donations to community projects across Bali totaled Rp. 26.231 billion (US$2.6 million) for the 18 months ended June 30, 2009. Citing the substantial employment and financial contribution made to the local economy and, perhaps, responding to criticisms leveled at the management of the airport over recent months, PT PAP's manager, Heru Legowo, told the Bali Post: "Don’t kill the goose laying golden eggs."
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