Sunday, March 22, 2009
BALI UPDATE #654 - 21 March 2009
The Eternal Battle of Good over Evil
Many Bali Businesses Close as Galungan – Kuningan Religious Cycle Begins.
Bali went quiet during the Galungan period on Wednesday, March 18, 2009, as many businesses closed to permit Balinese Hindus to return to ancestral villages to celebrate the holidays with family members, both living and deceased. Galungan marks the commencement of a 10-day religious cycle that ends with Kuningan festivities – a period in which the spirits of dead family members are believed to return and join clan members via prayers and offerings at family temples. In a larger sense, Galungan is also the celebration of the victory of good over evil, a period in which many Balinese will make a yearly pilgrimage to Bali’s mother-temple of Besakih.
On March 18th many residential homes were left empty in the island’s capital of Denpasar, deserted as families returned to their birthplace or, as is increasingly the case in “modern” Bali, the birthplace of their parents or grandparents. The few Balinese still found in the capital were almost invariably dressed in traditional temple garments mandatory for the prayers and offerings made at the Merajan shrine found in every Balinese family compound. Many Balinese involved in essential services on that day also came to their places of employment clad in traditional garments, offering their prayers at nearby office temples.
Denpasar’s main temple of Pura Jagatnatha was filled with Balinese devotees; women clad in fine kebayas and the men wearing layered sarongs and the traditional udeng headdress, modeled on the head of a fighting cock.
The Galungan celebrations typically consumes three days, this year stretching from March 17 – 19, 2009.
In the midst of the Galungan-Kuningan 10 day cycle, Bali will also mark New Year day on the Bali-Hindu calendar on March 26, 2009. That date or “Nyepi” is a uniquely Balinese celebration during which the entire island comes to a halt for a 24 hour period as Balinese, local residents and island visitors are confined to their homes or hotels. [See: There’s a Kind of Hush, All Over the Isle]
Michael Franti to Perform for Bali’s Pelangi School
World Renowned Musician Michael Franti in Benefit Concert for Pelangi School March 28, 2009.
Pausing in Bali from his world tour, Michael Franti and friends will perform a live 75 minute concert at the bamboo-estate of Linda Garland, in Nyuh Kuning, Ubud on Saturday, March 28, 2009. Revenues raised from ticket sales will be contributed to the Pelangi School - Ubud’s holistic, bilingual, community school.
A worldwide recording and stage star, Michael Franti will bring his signature socially-conscious lyrics, inspired beats, dub-grooves and song to Ubud during a night promised by its organizers to inspire and bring listeners to their feet in an intimate setting.
Joining Franti on stage will be 'friends' Carly Young, the bass player from Franti's band “Spearhead,” and J. Bowman, guitarist extraordinaire.
Franti’s visit to Bali comes following sold-out concert dates in the Bay Area of northern California. Following his Bali fund-raiser Franti heads to the Blues Fest in Byron Bay, Australia.
Active as a musician, film-makers, yoga enthusiast and humanitarian worker – Franti has a world-wide network of fans and friends.
The venue for his Ubud performance, the Linda Garland's Estate, is located on 10 hectares of lush vegetation stretching along a river gorge punctuated by an inspiring waterfall. Secluded in the village of Nyuh Kuning, just behind Ubud’s Monkey Forest, song-birds and reflective visitors both sing praise to of the careful balance maintained between human habitation and nature’s integrity.
Produced by the Balispirit Festival, the Bali appearance of Michael Franti is made possible through the generous support of the Canadian eco-friendly company Terra View.
The Linda Garland Estate is located behind the soccer field in Nyuh Kuning where parking is available. Food and drink will be available for purchase.
Doors open at 7:00 p.m. with the concert commencing at 8:00 p.m. with a 30-minute warm-up act prior to Michael Franti taking the stage.
Advance purchase ticket prices are Rp. 250,000 (US$22.30). Tickets brought in groups of five will cost Rp. 200,000 each (US$17.85). Tickets at the door will cost Rp. 300,000 (US$26.80).
For more information visit the website of [Bali Spirit Festival]
Lombok Emaar Project Not Dead?
Jakarta Globe Retracts Earlier Reports That Emaar Deal in Lombok is Dead. Emaar Jakarta Office Remains Closed and Report of Emaar’s Financial Woes Mount.
The reported death a US$600 million tourism project in Lombok as reported by Bali Discovery [see; Emaar Group Withdraws From US$600 Million Lombok Project] and based on a Jakarta Globe report, is being adamantly denied by high-ranking Indonesian officials who insist the deal is far from dead and that a three-month deadline extension has been negotiated by the government with the Dubai-based Emaar International Group.
The Jakarta Globe quoted an Emaar spokesman in Dubai as saying “the government of Indonesia and Emaar have extended a delayed joint venture agreement to get the project underway for another three months. The same spokesman, who requested not to be named, also said, “Emaar has met its contractual obligations and the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board [BKPM] has now asked Emaar for an extension of time to meet their obligations under the joint venture agreement.”
Signaling that all is not well with the transformational tourism project for Lombok, Emaar has closed its Jakarta office and will reportedly conduct its business from Dubai during the 3 month reprieve period.
Forming additional background to the unfolding drama, Emaar is reported to be in serious financial difficulties, recording a fourth-quarter 2008 loss of US$481.0 million precipitating a sharp fall in its publicly traded share price. The Jakarta Globe reports that the Dubai company has suddenly cancelled its annual general meeting without explanation.
In a correction published in The Jakarta Globe that newspapers has now retracted its earlier reports attributed to an Emaar employee which blamed corruption by local officials as one of the contributing causes to the termination of the Lombok project. In light of their latest reports, the paper now insists that neither Emaar Indonesia or its Dubai principals have made any announcement to quit the Lombok project.
Stay tuned, this promises to be interesting.
The Elephant in the Womb
70 Kilogram Baby Female Elephant Born at Elephant Safari Park March 15, 2009.
Julius Caesar was warned “Beware the ides of March” - foreshadowing the date of his untimely death of March 15th. Another warning with “Caesarian undertones” might also have been issued to Fatimah, a female elephant in Bali, who gave birth to a 70 kilogram progeny on March 15th at the Taro Elephant Safari Park.
Fortunately, nature took a smooth course eliminating the need for any surgical assistance named after ancient Roman rulers as Bali’s Elephant Safari Park near Ubud, welcomed the arrival of a bouncing baby girl on Sunday, March 15, 2009. Weighing 70 kilograms and measuring 110 centimeters in length and 80 centimeters in height, the Sumatran elephant was born “naturally” without the intervention of a veterinarian. This was probably all as well, given the fact that the baby probably weighed more than the delivery doctor.
The first birth among the captive elephant population of the Elephant Safari Park, the baby girl elephant, named Jegeg is shown on balidiscoery.com, is the daughter of Father Seng Wong and Mother Fatimah. The latest addition brings the population of elephants at the Park managed by Australian Nigel Mason and his wife Yanni to 28 animals.
Fatimah’s gestation period stretched nearly 19 months, dating from her conception in July 2007.
A regular supply of Mother’s milk is being supplemented by a special diet for Fatimah that includes 250 kilograms of grass and elephant stems, 5 kilograms of high-protein peanuts and handfuls of multi-vitamins.
Nigel, by the way, where’s my cigar?
Remembering Sri Chinmoy in Bali
World Harmony Leader Immortalized in Ubud Statue.
A 2.2 meter high bronze statue of the late “world harmony leader” Sri Chinmoy has been installed at the Agung Rai Museum (ARMA) in the foothills of Bali at Ubud where a painting by the Chinmoy “Brotherhood” forms part of the museum’s permanent collection.
Chinmoy, who held twice-weekly interfaith Peace Meditations at the United Nations since 1970, was the founder of a range of cultural and humanitarian initiatives, including an 80-nation World Harmony Run in 1987 and the Sri Chinmoy Peace Blossom family, both held in Bali.
A sacred ceremony was held to dedicate the statue presided over by Ida Pedanda Gede Ketut Sebali Tianyar Arimbawa. This ceremony followed by a few days the initial placement of the statue witness by the Regent of Ubud, Cokorda Gde Ardana Sukawati who said, “the mission of Sri Chinmoy is very close to our hearts . . . and I hope that we can all take part in the mission to balance this world through his works, through his words and through the prayers that we will do every day and at every moment.”
Prior to his death, Chinmoy visited Bali many time since 1987 to lead concert, organize peace activities and cultural exchanges. He received numerous awards from the Republic of Indonesia and the island of Bali.
SkyAirWorld Airplanes Seized
Collapse of Queensland Carrier Scrubs Plans for a Darwin-Dili-Denpasar Service.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Queensland carrier SkyAirWorld has ceased operation following the repossession of all its aircraft after defaulting on debts said to number in the tens of millions of dollars.
The collapse of the airline follows just weeks SkyAirWord’s announcement of plans to connect Darwin and Bali via an intermediate stop in Timor Leste using 94-sear Embraer aircraft.
The airline once employed 140 people and operated 5 aircraft.
Australian regional carriers are said to be in a state of turmoil with the latest regional carrier closure. Just two months ago another Queensland carrier MacAir closed with the loss of 200 jobs. Air Link, which provided air links to rural communities in New South Wales, stopped those flights insisting they did not “make economic sense.” Another Australian regional carrier Rex has told the press that they are suffered a 20% loss in passenger downturn in January 2009.
The presumption that Indonesian Lion Air would obtain a foothold in the Australian domestic airline market via a business alliance with SkyAirWorld has been rendered moot by the failure of the Queensland airline.
Tanjung Benoa Fishermen Erect ‘Illegal’ Fish Market
Angered at Lack of Response from the Government, Bali Fishermen Build a Fish Market on Government Land without the Needed Licenses and Permits.
Bali Post reports that the people of the traditional village of Tanjung Benoa have reacted in frustration to unanswered requests to the provincial government for permission to build a fish market in their community by unilaterally moving ahead with their plans to erect a fish market near their village.
Covering 2,600 square meters and costing Rp. 1.2 billion (US$107,150), the new fish market is now nearly 50% completed but lacks any of the required building permits and licenses.
The village head for Tanjung Benoa, Nyoman Wanaputra, told the press that letters to use the land had been sent to the fisheries department via the regional government of Badung in November 2007. Those letters were never dignified with an answer. Similarly, letters send in 2008 and 2009 to the fisheries department also remained unanswered preventing local government officials in Badung from issuing the needed permits to build a new local fish market.
Wanaputra defended the move to push ahead with the local fish market as necessary to protect village fishermen from middle-men who were manipulating fish prices in the sale of catches to local hotels. By owning their own marketplace, Tanjung Benoa fishermen hope to improve the profitability of family-owned fishing enterprises.
Drawing Lines in the Sand
Wanaputra blamed the unresponsive bureaucracy as leaving villagers no choice but to take definitive steps in defense of their own self interests. In what could be construed as a veiled threat to the regional government, Wanaputa said; “It’s up to thee government if they want to sell or rent this land to the traditional village. What’s clear, the people have been screaming for some time. If the government decides to demolish the new fish market, then let them try, they will have to face our citizens.”
Villa Phobia in Bali?
Bali-Based Writer Says Balinese Fear Villa Invasion with Threaten Island’s Culture and Economy.
Writing for the AAP NewsWire, Bali-based writer Marion Carrol published a provocative article saying that the Balinese are calling on their government to halt the current villa boom in order to save Bali’s indigenous culture, the environment and the long-term economic sustainability of the island.
Blaming the current “foreign-backed” villa development boom for raising property prices in Seminyak to Rp. 5 million (US447) per square meter, Carrol says that Balinese are now finding themselves priced out of the market for owning land on their own island. What’s more, impoverished farmers who have managed to hang onto ancestral farm lands are being forced to liquidate their holding as they are unable to pay escalating property taxes on their increasingly higher valued tracts of land. A member of the local parliament, Puspanegara said, "they are being forced to sell to educate and feed their children, and people are becoming jealous of foreign developers and investors."
Painting a picture of a free-for-all among foreign real estate agents, development companies, property consultants and legal advisors – some of who she claims are not qualified – Carrol tells of billboards advertising “freehold titles to foreigners” despite foreign ownership of land in Indonesia being specifically prohibited by regulation and the national constitution. Lawyers and developers urge foreigner investors on, insisting complicated legal constructs allow the law to be side-stepped and title to be secured for non-Indonesians.
Enough is Enough?
Carrol quoted local architect Popo Danes who suggests Balinese culture will be undermined by the growing trend of Balinese to surrender their lands to non-Balinese. "For a Balinese, selling their home is like selling their ancestors," said Danes, who admitted he profits from the villa boom but wants it to stop.
She also quotes Agung Raka of Legian who continues to resist those trying to purchase his bungalow complex. "If I sell, I would have nothing to leave my children and grandchildren," said Raka. "Where would our ancestors' spirits go? Where would we pray? We Balinese cannot just move houses like Christians or Muslims who can pray anywhere. We need our home and family temple."
Puspanegara, a member of the Golkar Party, called on Bali’s governor to move against developers building in “no-build” green zones.
Bali Tourism Lady Calls it a Day
Annelies de Moil of Bali Tours Melbourne Celebrates 29 Years of Sharing Paradise with Friends at a Bali Retirement Party.
On March 7, 2009, a friendly gathering of 100 hoteliers and travel business partners gathered at the Bali Niksoma Boutique Beach Resort to raise their glasses in salute to Annelies de Moil’s 29 years of dedicated service selling Bali holidays to the people of Australia.
The former Managing Director of Bali Tours in Melbourne chose a “black and white” theme for a beachside soiree of cocktails, wines and canapés accompanied by music provided by the Tropical Transit Band.
Gordon Tanner, Sales & Marketing Manager of Bali Tours in Melbourne welcomed guests and introduced co-workers who flew in specially for Annelies ’retirement party.
In her farewell speech, Annelies said: “After 29 years with Bali Tours I decide to ease into a more relaxed pace of semi-retirement. Bali is always in my heart and passion, I love the people, the culture and the way of life of the Balinese. There is no other place in the world that can beat Bali. Because of this love and passion Bali Tours can stay as it is now and continue selling Bali despite of all the challenges. This is possible because the commitment from Bali Tours staff and the support from all business partners.”
Annelies de Mol remains a shareholder of Bali Tours Melbourne and will continue to serve the company in an advisory capacity. Her successor as Managing Director is Michael de Lissa, son of the company’s founder, Jack de Lissa.
Shown on balidiscovery.com are pictures taken during Annelies’ farewell party to the Bali travel industry.
A Celebration of Yoga, Music and Dance in Bali April 28 – May 3, 2009.
Now in its second year, The Balispirit Festival is the result of a unique collaboration of three individuals, each bringing a unique perspective to life and how it should be celebrated. Established in March 2008, The Balispirit Festival is aimed at creating a community-based event in Bali that would attract people from around the globe to contribute to creative collaborations in yoga, music and dance.
Each of the co-founders shared the strong belief that any eventual event should reach out to young people. The Festival also seeks to create an environmentally conscious even; one which will inspire on-going responsibility to the environment through Festival activities highlighted on the Free Family Day (Hari Cinta Keluarga).
Meghan wants Bali visitors to experience the beauty and serenity all yogis enjoy when they come to Ubud. It is her belief that teachings through Balispirit are meant to be shared with the collective, so that everyone can actively participate and ‘give back’ to the community.
I Made Gunarta
Made Gunarta believes in the preservation of a wide variety of Balinese creative forms. His vision is to showcase and share the true essence of Balinese culture with a wider audience in order to positively impact the consciousness of people throughout the world.
Robert is creating a platform for conscious performers to gather and share their unique forms of music with a new audience from Bali and Southeast Asia. A producer and musician, Robert has a deep understanding on how music can have a profound and lasting effect on many people’s lives.
Balispirit 2009 – Back for a Second Successful Year
The Festival has grown from an initial four-day festival to a six-day celebration, adding more workshops and performances by international and local artists. Acclaimed Yogis and outstanding performers from Ghana, Guinea, Uganda, USA, Canada, Mexico, UK, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, India, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and from across the Indonesian archipelago will be participating across the entire six days.
The Festival grounds have also been expanded through the kind support of the Purnati Center for the Arts. With the addition of a 1,400 square meter lawn area that will serve as the main venue for the Festival Night performances and Dharma Fair, there is also an attractive outdoor amphitheater, a beautiful two-storey floating pavilion with a 240 square meter yoga space on the 2nd floor overlooking lush tropical greenery, a 148 square meter swimming pool, and expansive lawns that are perfect for yoga and dance workshops during the Festival.
Schedule of Events
• 28 April - Opening Celebration 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
• 29 April to 2 May - Day Workshops 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. with daily night performances 7 p.m. – 11 p.m.
• 3 May - Hari Cinta Keluarga (Free Family Day) with Cinta Keluarga Workshops 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Cinta Keluarga Performances 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Festival Passes & Prices
The following class of admission tickets are available:
• Full Festival Pass (Early Bird and Normal) - Full access to all festival workshops and performances, admission to the opening celebration, Dharma Fair and Hari Cinta Keluarga (Free Family Day) festivities.
• Weekend Festival Pass (Early Bird and Normal) - Full access to the festival workshops and performances on 1 & 2 May ONLY, Dharma Fair and Hari Cinta Keluarga (Free Family Day) festivities.
• Festival Night Pass (One Price Only) - Access to the Festival Nights ONLY, including admission to night performances, opening celebration, evenings at Dharma Fair and Hari Cinta Keluarga (Free Family Day) festivities,
• Early Bird until April 1, 2009 – Full Festival Pass US$379 per person (international) and IRP 3.69 million per person (Indonesian citizens). Group price – buy 9 get the 10th ticket free.
• Weekend Festival Pass – US$ 279 per person (international) and IRP 2.69 million (Indonesian citizens). Group price – buy 9 get the 10th ticket free.
• Prices after April 1, 2009 - Full Festival Pass USD 459 per person (international) and IRP 4.49 million per person (Indonesian citizens).
• Weekend Festival Pass (after April 1, 2009) US$ 359 per person (international) and IRP 3.49 million per person (Indonesian citizens).
• Festival Night Pass US$135 per person (international) and IRP 1.25 million per person (Indonesian citizens).
For more information visit the website of [Bali Spirit Festival]
Bali Needs a Child Protection Home
Social Services Department Offers to Build Safe House for Victims of Child Sexual Abuse if Bali Government will Donate the Land.
Speaking at a Bali conference to eliminate child sex tourism practices, the Director General of Social Rehabilitation and Social Services of the Indonesian Department of Social Services, Makmur Sanusi, says Bali is in desperate need of a Child Protection Home (CHP) to temporarily house and protect children who are the victims of sexual abuse. That Bali has the unfortunate distinction of being a place where predatory sexual conduct against children is a growing problem underlines the need that both the land and the money to build and run a CHP must be found.
Sanusi told Radar Bali that the Department of Social Services is prepared to build and run a CHP facility in Bali if the local government in Bali will provide a suitable building site. Sanusi said: “Bali the land, the central government for the money. If the central government has to pay for everything, clearly we are unable as land is expensive.”
He went on to explain that there are already 7 CHPs operating in Indonesia, including facilities in Jakarta, Mataram (Lombok), Pontianak, Pati, Makassar and Medan. Bali does not have a CHP because it lacks a Center for the Rehabilitation of Children. In the existing cities with a CHP, the Department of Social Services merely allocated rooms from the existing Centers for the Rehabilitation of Children for use as a CHP.
Makmur emphasized the importance of a CHP for treating the victims of child sex tourism and other forms of child sexual abuse. Such facilities are able to restore the mental condition of victimized children through counseling, therapy and job training.
A representative from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Gusti Putu Laksana Guna, used the conference to call on hotels to undertake training for all their hotels to be aware of challenge guests who bring children back to the hotel. Likewise, villa operations must be scrutinized one by one to determine those in which under age children are involved in any capacity.
A Dutch representative from Terres Des Hommes, Frank Van Djik told those attending the conference that nationals of his country found guilty of child sexual abuse can expect to be punished both in the country they commit their crime but also in Holland when they return from aboard.
The Indonesian National Coalition to Eliminate Child Sexual Exploitation (ECPAT), represented by Ahmad Sofian, said the public must come to recognize the difference between human trafficking and Child Sex Tourism. Human trafficking involves the sale of locals abroad, while Child Sex Tourism involves local children who are preyed upon by traveling adults for sex. “They must be differentiated, although both are dangerous,” explained Sofian.
Bali White Rose Hotel Seized by Prosecutors
Prosecutors Investigate Failure of Owners to Surrender Property Documents to New Owners.
Radar Bali reports that the White Rose Hotel located on Jalan Raya Legian in Kuta has been seized by officers from the Bali police headquarters based on an ongoing investigation prompted by a report made by Hari Budihartono on February 21, 2009.
The seizure took place on Monday, March 16, 2003, and was performed by four officers of the Economic-Social Crime Division of the police back up by unformed officers from the criminal reserve unit of the Bali police. In attendance at the seizure where representatives of the complainant and the defendant, Rachmat Agung Leonardi, alias Yongki, who is the major shareholder in the hotel property.
Johnny Riwoe, the complainant in the case, told Radar Bali that the seizure emanates from a sales transaction concluded nearly two years ago with Yongki to purchase the hotel. Riwoe says that a notarial act sealing the deal was signed by both parties setting a sale price of Rp. 50 billion (US$4.5 million).
Riwoe also claims that despite paying a down payment of Rp. 10 billion, Yongky failed to complete the transaction by turning over all legal documents within the stipulated 2 months and 7 days from the date of the transaction’s signing. Moreover, Yongky is alleged to have refused to refund the deposit when he was unable to hand over the required documents.
Prosecutors issued the seizure order after determining sufficient evidence exists to suspect a criminal act had been committed in the case.
According to Radar Bali, the defendants in the case were unavailable to comment on the case.