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Bali Feels Light Tremors from Earthquake Causing Scores of Deaths and Property Damage in West Java Region.
On Wednesday, September 2, 2009, a powerful earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale struck the West Java region of Indonesia. The epicenter of the earthquake was located 95 kilometers southwest of Bandung at a depth of 49 kilometers. The seismic event and a series of aftershocks caused significant damage in Garut, Sukabumi, Tasikmalaya and Ciamis. The earthquake was felt in Bandung and Indonesia's capital of Jakarta, when the mid-afternoon quake caused panic as people evacuated swaying high-rise buildings. Mild reverberations of the quake were felt in far-away Bali, which suffered no damage in the quake. More than 55 deaths are linked to the earthquake with scores more still missing and believed dead and buried under landslides. The heaviest death toll was recorded in Tasikmalaya and Garut. Estimates place more than 13,000 people as homeless and living in temporary shelters following the disaster. The intensity of the earthquake triggered tsunami sirens to sound briefly in West Java. A tidal wave of one-meter associated with the quake was recorded in the Sunda Straits, but no deaths or injuries have been attributed to the short-lived ocean swell. Some Bali residents living in multi-story building felt a light swaying lasting nearly 30 seconds at the time of the earthquake whose epicenter was nearly 1,000 kilometers to the west of the island. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has visited the areas in West Java worst affected by the earthquake and has mobilized the relevant members of his cabinet to lend all assistance possible to victims. The President, however, has issued a statement that international assistance was not yet required in addressing the disaster at this time.
A Tall Ship and a Star to Steer Her By
Indonesia's Barquentine KRI Dewa Ruci Visits Bali.
The Indonesia tall-ship operated as a training vessel for navy cadets, KR Dewa Ruci, stopped over in Bali for a few day before departing on Thursday, September 3, 2009, for Makassar, the next stop on its annual Indonesian cruise circuit. Built in 1953, the 874-ton ship is a three-masted tall-ship measuring 56.5 meters long. The ship boasts a total sail area of 1,091 square meters when its complement of 16 sails are all deployed. Sailing with a crew of 181 sailors including 68 cadets, the ship is used to teach Indonesia's future naval officers essential traditional sailing skills. During its brief Bali layover the ship held an open house at Benoa harbor to allow the public to view the vessel while its resident marching band held a battle of the marching bands in downtown Denpasar, matching steps and musical skills with local high school drum bands. The KR Dewa Ruci also serves as a goodwill ambassador for the Republic, having undertaken numerous world-wide cruises in its proud 56 year sailing history.
Wine Spectator Magazine Toasts Four Bali Restaurants
Breeze at Samaya, The Restaurant at the Legian, Mozaic and Kayuputi All Given Awards of Excellence by Wine Spectator Magazine.
Winespectator.com has announced their 2009 Wine Spectator's Restaurant Wine List Awards given to dining places "whose wine lists offer interesting selections, are appropriate to their cuisine and appeal to a wide range of wine lovers." The 2009 list contains 4,118 restaurants spread over three classifications: Grand Awards (72 winners) - The highest level of recognition, reserved for restaurants with a passionate devotion of wine that typically stock over 1,500 wine selections or more of outstanding wines. Best of Award Excellence (797 winners) - Wine Spectator's second tier of recognition, given to distinguished restaurants that offer 400 or more selections of top wines. Award of Excellence (3,249 winners) The basic but still prestigious award given to restaurants that "offer a well-chosen selection of quality producers, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style." Generally, to wine this award a restaurant should offer at least 100 selections. Bali Winners Four Bali restaurants were named to Wine Spectators 2009 Awards List, all recognized in the Award of Excellence Category. The Bali Winners are: Breeze at Samaya Jalan Laksmana, Seminyak Beach. The Samaya offers a selection of 155 wines types across an inventory of 2,950 bottles. Wine pricing is deemed "moderate." European and American entrees cost between US$15 to US$30. Sommelier: Wayan Sudarsana. Kayuputi at the St. Regis, Bali - Kawasan Pariwisata Nusa Dua Lot S6, Nusa Dua. The Kayuputi has 140 wine types across an inventory of 1,500 bottles. Wine pricing is termed "expensive" by the judges with French and Australian vintages predominating. Regional entrees cost between US$25 to US$100. Wine Director: Harald Wiesmann.
Mozaic Restaurant in Ubud - Jalan Raya Sanggingan, Ubud. Mozaic has a selection of 180 wines in its cellar of 1,500 bottles with prices termed "inexpensive" for their wine selection predominated by French and Australian vintages. Contemporary French and American food on its Prix Fixe menu cost between US$60 to US$100. Wine Director: Cok Bagus Senajaya. The Restaurant at The Legian - Jalan Laksamana, Seminyak. Pricing of wine is said to be "expensive" for a collection of 135 wines dominated by French and Australian wines. A contemporary menu features entrees costing between US$15 to US$30. Sommelier: Kurniawan Eko Putro.
Sing a Song of Bali
Bali Community Choir Now Being Formed Open to All Without Auditions.
It's time to stop singing in the shower and employ your dulcet tones on a wider stage. A Bali Community Choir is now being formed for those who'd like to join fellow members of the community in song. Open to both Indonesian and members of Bali's international community, the Bali Community Choir will meet every Tuesday, commencing September 8, 2009, at the Gateway Community Center, Jalan Danau Batur No. 3, Sanur (near the entrance of the Bali International School). Choir practice is every Tuesday from 7:30 p.m. 9:30 p.m.. No auditions No experience or formal musical knowledge required. The Bali Community Choir is fortunate to have an experience international choir conductor, Brendan O'Donnell, to coordinate each Tuesday's practice. For more information, contact: Brendan (English) telephone 081353120682 Ricky (Indonesian) telephone 081338753327 Jane (English) telephone 08123870469 See you at Tuesday's choir practice in Sanur!
Bali Community Choir Practice Every Tuesday 7:30 9:30 p.m. Gateway Community Center, Jalan Danau Batur No.5, Sanur.
Rebuilding Indonesia's Image in Australia and New Zealand
Bali Post Interview with Gede Pitana, Director of International Promotions, Indonesian Department of Culture and Tourism, Outlines Steps to Rebuild Indonesia's Image Following July Bombings in Jakarta.
The September 3, 2009, edition of The Bali Post carried an interview with I Gede Pitana, the former Head of the Bali Tourism Authority and currently serving as the Director of International Promotions at the Department of Culture and Tourism. That interview focused on efforts now underway to restore the image of Indonesian tourism in Australian and New Zealand following the July bombing of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Marriott. The Interview: I Gede Pitana, Director of International Promotions, Department of Culture and Tourism. Bali Post:What is the impact of the bombing of the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton? Pitana: The effect of the recent bombing of the Ritz-Carlton and JW Marriott were not as great as similar events of 2002 and 2005, but the image of Indonesia was damaged in those two countries (Australia and New Zealand). It's a given that the effect of the explosions will impact those countries in which several or a single of its citizens were victims, such as New Zealand. Countries which had victims of the latest bombing, in this instance New Zealand, we must try to approach on a human level. Bali Post: How about Australia? Pitana: Australia is another country (we must address), chosen because of its role as a key target of Indonesian tourism and its rapid rate of stabile tourism growth. In Australia we will undertake a number of activities based in Sydney, given that city's role as the main gateway for Australians traveling to Indonesia. Bali Post:Who will lead these promotional activities? Pitana: The delegations to these two countries to restore Indonesia's image will be led by the Minister of Culture and Tourism Jero Wacik. The visit of the Minister will hopefully portray the condition of Indonesia following the most recent bombings and the serious intent of the Indonesian government to restore its tourism sector. We want to demonstrate that Indonesia very much honors and values these two countries (Australia and New Zealand). Bali Post:What's the Australian market look like? Pitana: Australia is one of the ten major countries that forms the major tourism market for Indonesia. Through July, the number of tourist visitors from that country to Indonesia increased 25% over the previous year's total to 267,227. We are targeting 550,000 tourist visitors from Australia to Indonesia (for 2009).
Indonesia Tightens Aviation Security
Former Garuda Employee's Links to Terror Cell Prompts Tighter Security Procedures on Passengers, Crew and Cargo at Indonesia Airports.
The Department of Air Transportation is introducing closer scrutiny at all Indonesian airport to include not only passengers but also air crews and cargo loading as a response to the threat of terrorism. Quoted in bisnis.com, the Minister of Transportation, Jusman Syafii Djamal, said: "Closer scrutiny will not only be made of passengers, but also crew and cargo. With closer guarding of cargo areas." The added emphasis on security was announced after Indonesian police authorities revealed that a former mechanic employed by Garuda Indonesia, Muhammad Syahrir, had an affiliation with terrorist Noordin M. Top and is alleged to have been involved in the July bombing of two Jakarta hotels. Syahrir is no longer employed by Garuda Indonesia. In response, Jusman has dramatically increased security measures at all airports with support from the Indonesian Armed Forces and the National Police. Previously, the chief spokesman from the National Police Headquarters, General Nanan Sukarna, said the police were still seeking four members of a terrorist network, including Muhammad Syahrir and Syaifuddin Zuhri, two brothers believed by authorities to have taken a role in the bombing of two Jakarta hotels in July 2009. Muhammad Syahrir graduated from the aviation high school in Jakarta in 1988, working after graduation from Garuda Indonesia and a foreign airline.
Removing the Social Stigma of HIV/AIDS in Bali
Bali's Religious Leaders Join Forces to Halt Discrimination Against Those Suffering and Dying from HIV/AIDS.
Kompas.com reports that many Balinese, particularly those from rural areas, practice discrimination against those infected with HIV/AIDS, including, in some instance, refusing to handle, bury or cremate the remains of those who die from HIV/AIDS. A lack of information on how people become infected with HIV/AIDS is the root cause of why village people will often have nothing to do with HIV/AIDS victims, either living or dead. To address this situation, religious leaders in Bali have agreed to work together to educate the public and end discrimination against HIV/AIDS sufferers. The Vice-Chairman of the Parisadha Hindu Dharma Indonesia (PHDI), the leading Bali Hindu religious organization, Raka Santeri, told the press: "We are concerned with the narrow attitude of people towards those suffering from HIV/AIDS. The bodies of several sufferers who died in hospital have not been received back for burial by either their families or neighbors. This is highly discriminative and cruel." The Hindu leader went on to explain that such refusals are not in keeping with religious law requiring that the dead and their remains be honored. Because of this, he is calling on all Hindu leaders to correctly educate their fellow Hindus about HIV/AIDS. Similar sentiments were also expressed by the Bali representative of the Majelis Ulama Indonesia (MUI), Richard Muchlis. Agreeing that discrimination towards those suffering or who have died from HIV/AIDS is not acceptable, Muchlis said: "It is therefore important that we move together to persuade the public about how HIV/AIDS is spread. What's more, someone who has died of this disease cannot infect the living." Between January and July of 2009, the bodies of six people who died of HIV/AIDS at Denpasar's Sanglah General Hospital were refused by their families and home villages. Roy Noldy, an HIV/AIDS activist, regretted the refusal of local citizens to dispose of the dead. He was also shocked to learn that family members of the dead also refused to handle and pray for the deceased. In February, an HIV/AIDS victim's body was cremated at the public crematorium in Mumbul at a cost of Rp. 12 million (US$1,200) because the deceased's family were not prepared to pray and make offerings on behalf of their family member. "Disturbed by these developments were hope religious leaders in Bali will help spread correct information," Noldy said. The number of HIV suffers in Bali between 1987 until May 2009 totaled 2,829 people, with most averaging between the age of 20 and 39 years. During the entire year of 2008, 255 people died from HIV/AIDS in Bali.
Bali Introduces 'Visa-Before-Arrival'
Visas to be Processed on Inbound Garuda Flights from Tokyo to Bali Before Landing.
Inbound passengers to Bali on board Garuda Indonesia flights from Tokyo will see waiting time at Bali's airport reduced by virtue of a new on board immigration service soon to be put in operation. As explained by Garuda's manager in Denpasar, Bagus Y. Siregar, those passengers having their passport processed by immigration officers while flying between Tokyo and Bali will be able to proceed directly to the luggage area to have their bags cleared through customs. Bagus told the Bali Post that the new visa system will be introduced on September 15, 2009, when two immigration officers will join the flight from Tokyo to Bali to collect the visa-on-arrival fees and issue the applicable visa.
Bali Dive Operators Asked to Show Their Licenses
Authorities Conclude Sweep of Dive Operators in Buleleng and Karangasem as Island-Wide Sweep to Discover Illegal Operators Continue.
During the first week of September 2009, joint enforcement teams comprised of officials from the Bali provincial government, tourism police, water police, public prosecutors, members of the Water Sport Association (Gahawisri Bali), environmental authorities and tourism officials visited dive operators in the regency of Buleleng, north Bali. In the continuing phase of monitoring and survey activities intended to eventually visit all dive operators operating in Bali, five diving operators in Buleleng were charged with operating with incomplete permits and, in two instances, with no permits whatsoever. The five companies netted in the sweep were: Spice Dive, Wisnu Dive Center, Sunrise Dive, Malibu Lovina and CV Permai Dive. According to Bali Post, two companies Spice Dive and Wisnu Dive Center have no licenses at all, while the remaining operators have temporary licenses. Officials said that those holding temporary licenses have been given six months to complete the licensing process. In July, similar sweeps in the Karangasem regency of Bali netted 22 illegal dive operations, with five of those brought before the courts on July 30, 2009. Officials indicate that their sweeping operations against illegal dive operators will soon conduct sweeps in the Badung Regency and Denpasar.
Minister or Legislator? That's the Question
Group of Ministers Must Decide by September 10, 2009 if They want to Be Legislators or Try Their Luck at Remaining in the Presidential Cabinet.
Four Indonesian Ministers sitting on President Yudhoyono's United Indonesia Cabinet are on the horn of a dilemma. Elected to Sit as Members of the Indonesian House of Representatives, the four ministers are required by law to be sworn in as legislators and take their elected seats on October 1, 2009. This date precedes by 20 days the October 20, 2009 date when President Yudhoyono will take the oath for his second and final term as Indonesia's President. Indonesian law prohibits anyone from holding both an executive position within the presidential cabinet and a legislative post. Meanwhile, Ministers serve at the pleasure of the President and Yudhoyono is under no requirement to announce his new cabinet before his second inauguration. Herein, lies the rub. Should the ministers resign their cabinet post and take the oath of a legislator on October 1st or forfeit their elective post in the national legislature in the uncertain hope they will be reappointed to the presidential cabinet? That, in a nutshell, is the dilemma confronting four of six members of the six presidential cabinet members who have also been elected to take a seat in the next House of Representatives: State Minister for Cooperatives and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises, Surya Dharma Ali (elected to represent the PPP party for West Java III). State Minister for Disadvantaged Regions, Muhammad Lukman Edy (elected to represent the PKB Party for Riau II). State Minister for Administrative Reforms, Taufik Effendi (elected to represent the Demokrat Party for South Kalimantan I). Minister for Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik (elected to represent the Demokrat Party for Bali). Minister for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Freddy Numberi (elected to represent the Demokrat Party for Papua). State Minister for Youth and Sports Affair, Adhyaksa Dault (elected to represent the PKS Party for Central Sulawesi). From the above list, Fredy Numberi and Adyaksa Dault have already resigned their legislative seats, stating their desire to concentrate fully on their ministerial duties until October 20, 2009. This, however, has fueled speculation that both feel personally assured of their inclusion in the next presidential cabinet. The State Election Committee (KPU) is holding firm on insisting that the October 1st deadline is written in stone, requiring sitting ministers to either resign or forfeit their seat in the next session of the legislature. The election law of 2008 stipulates that no member of the legislature can hold another official positions financed by State budgets. Quoted in NusaBali, the Chairman of the KPU, Abdul Hafiz Anshari has warned the ministers elected to the legislature that they must decide by September 10, 2009, whether to relinquish their legislative seats in order that their party can submit a replacement to be sworn in as a legislator on October 1st. As pointed out by NusaBali, sitting ministers who have also been elected to the legislature must make a careful calculation between grabbing the certainty of a seat as a lawmaker or take their chances at being reappointed to the cabinet. A failure to make the right decision could result in an unemployed politician without a seat in either the executive or legislative branches of Indonesia's next government.
Sales Tax Refund for Visitors in 2010
Tax Office to Rebate 10% VAT to Increase Average Tourist Spending in 2010.
The government will introduce a new policy on January 1, 2010, that will refund sales tax (VAT) spent on purchases by tourist visitors to Indonesia. Speaking to Bisnis Indonesia, the Director of Tax Regulation, Catur Rini Widosari, said the government will set a minimum level of Rp. 5 million (US$500) to qualify for the 10% tax rebate, but there will be no maximum limit under the new policy. Catur explained: "There is no maximum amount that can be spent for the tax refund that applies to items personally brought by tourist visitors when the depart an Indonesian seaport or air gateway. The actual procedures will be set out by the Minister of Finance." She also explained that the new tax refund policy is meant to act as an incentive to encourage foreign visitors to shop in Indonesia. Adding, "hopefully, small industries will flourish as visitors usually have high expenditures on handicrafts." When challenged by the press that the incentive might cause a loss in tax revenues for the government, Catur retorted: "If you're talking about sales tax (PPN), don't hope for large tax revenues because PPN is meant for regulating (the market). Let the tax revenues come from (higher) income and payroll taxes (PPh). More tourist expenditures will mean higher incomes for the traders." The Head of the Special Committee on Taxation from the House of Representatives (DPR), Melchias Markus Mekeng, said the tax refund facility would come into operation on January 1, 2010. Melchias said the ideal minimum level of expenditure to qualify for a tax refund would be Rp. 3 million (US$300). "In Singapore people spending only US$100 qualify for a rebate, but because this is the introductory phase, we have agreed on a minimum of RP. 5 million," he explained. The tax refund will apply only on purchases made in Indonesia and personally brought by visitors with them when they depart Indonesia.
Kelating Beach Suffering Bali's Worst Erosion
Farmer's Lands Disappears Under Encroaching Seas as Alila Villas Soori and Temples Get Perilously Closer to the High Tide Mark.
A June report in the Bali Post cites some of the worst beach erosion in Bali as taking place along Kelating Beach with little or no efforts by the government to stem the encroaching ocean tide. According to the paper, Kelating Beach, which is the location of a new hotel development by Alila Villas Soori, is plagued not only by erosion but is becoming increasingly unsightly due to garbage accumulating on the beach. Local citizen claim as much as 200 meters of beach erosion has taken place, causing temples that were once safely inland to now stand at the very edge of the sea, threatening to topple into the ocean when hit by a large wave. Other local citizens who once held certificates on valuable seaside lands, now hold worthless title on land that is either completely or partially under water. The office of the Environment for Tabanan records a shoreline in Tabanan of 26 kilometers, with erosion affecting some 7.5 kilometers. 3.435 kilometers of the worst eroded beaches, including the shoreline in Kelating, is not being addressed by local government authorities due to a lack of funds. The Head of the Environmental Office for Tabanan, A.A.. Ngr. Raka Icwara, told the press that his office is for now only able to record the erosion and its growing impact until such a time as funds become available to try to reverse the erosive incursion of the sea.
Sara Residence in Bali - Where Rules Don't Apply
Another Unlicensed Hotel Opens in Kuta Underlining the Quagmire of Zoning and Operational Permits in Bali.
The latest chapter in the embarrassing litany of hotels and villas seemingly built in blatant disregard of local zoning laws surfaced last week with press reports of another Condotel the Sara Residence operating on Jalan Nakula in Kuta. According to NusaBali, the structure was built using a "principle permit" allowing a hospital to be on the site and that the hotel has been operating for several months without holding the required operating licenses. When questioned by NusaBali, the owner of the property, Parwatha, reportedly admitted the lack of the required licenses, explaining that he had just put the building permit (IMB) in order and that he was working on UPL/UKL (environmental permits), and would then seek an operational license. The owner said he was compelled to operate the 11 room hotel while waiting for the licensing process to be completed in order to cover operational costs. The Chief of the traditional village of Legian (Bendesa Adat), UGN Sudiarsa, was quoted by the press,, saying that the hotel should be closed if it lacks the proper and complete operating licenses until such a time as all its licenses and permits are in order. Sudiarsa bemoaned the fact that Legian was becoming home to a number of hotels built in violation of local zoning laws. "Basically, we support investment in our area, but we urge investors to follow the established rules., " explained Sudiarsa. The Head of the Tourism Service for Badung, I Made Subawa, told NusaBali that his office has given tolerance to the Sara Residence to undertake training of staff while the needed operations permit was put in order. When pressed on how many months of "tolerance" would be given to allow training, Subawa said three months should be enough. An earlier report in NusaBali, said the three-story building holds a principle permission for the construction of a hospital, and that the construction of a hotel residence represents a violation of its founding permit. Related Article [Best Western in a Not Hotel Zone]
[Does the Sheriff Always Win at the Best Westerns?] [Reclaiming Bali's Beaches]
[Best Western Hotel Sapta Patala Closed Before it Opens]
Garuda Charged in Australia with Price-Fixing
Hearings Set for Sydney on October 22, 2009 in Charges Brought by Consumer Watchdog Group.
Garuda Indonesia has been charged by the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) for conspiring to fix air cargo prices. The lawsuit alleges that Garuda and other carriers of colluding to fix fuel and security surcharges in Indonesia and Hong Kong between 2001 and 2006. Garuda has adamantly denied the price fixing charges, saying that the implementation of surcharges for cargo services in Australia was done without reference to any other carrier. The first hearing in the lawsuit against Garuda is scheduled to be heard in Sydney Federal Court on October 22, 2009. The ACCC is an active advocate on behalf of airline customers rights, with Garuda now the 10th airline brought to court by the watchdog group. Prosecutions of airlines under charges brought by ACCC have resulted in penalties of US$41 million. Among the airlines brought to court by the ACCC are: Qantas Airways, British Airways, Air France, KLM, Martinair Holland and CargoLux. Actions are said to be pending by the ACCC against Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Emirates.
Bali's Diminishing Water Supply
New Ruling Increases the Cost of Sub-Terrain Water Used by Local Hotels by 1,000 Percent.
A ten-fold increase applied to hotels using sub-terrain water is prompting complaints from Bali's tourism industry. The Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board (BTB), Ngurah Wijaya, told BisnisBali that his organization would soon seek a meeting with the island's governor to discuss the 1,000% increase. Said Wijaya: "We never imagined that their would be a 10-fold increase. This is a burden as companies must confront this large increase as almost all hotels in Bali use sub-terrain water sources. The new regulation issued by the governor on June 11, 2009, set new tariffs for the use of sub-terrain water by both area and industrial sector. The new tariff charges 4 and 5 star hotels in Denpasar, Gianyar and Badung Rp. 75,000 (US$7.50) per cubic meter of water consumed above 2,500 cubic meters. Chemical industries have received the largest increase and are now being charged Rp. 115,000 (US$11.50) per cubic meter of water. Wijaya said that the people of Bali support efforts to reduce the consumption of sub-terrain water, but, at the same time, said the government must offer alternative water sources by developing the public water boards delivery system. According to the Head of the Businessman's Association of Bali, Panudiana Kuhn, one 5 star hotel in Kuta has seen its water bill suddenly increase to Rp. 1.5 billion (US$150,000) from its former level of Rp. 150 million (US$15,000) a month.
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