8 November 2017

Indonesian authorities lower Bali volcano alert status

The alert level for a rumbling volcano on the Indonesian resort island of Bali that forced more than 100,000 to flee has been lowered, Indonesian authorities said on Sunday (Oct 29), but there is still a chance it could erupt. Volcanic activity in Mount Agung is slowing and the volcano’s status has been lowered from level four “danger” to level three “alert” by Indonesia’s volcanology centre. The agency said villagers whose homes are located further than 6km from the crater could return home, but warned that the mountain, which has been shaking for months, had not quite come to a standstill.

“The volcanic activities have not completely calmed down and there is still a potential for an eruption,” the agency’s head Kasbani, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, said in a statement. Mount Agung, 75km from the tourist hub of Kuta, has been rumbling since August, sparking fears it could erupt for the first time since 1963 and triggering the highest possible alert level in September. More than 133,000 people have been living in shelters for more than a month in fear of an eruption, even though more than half of the refugees actually live outside the danger zone.

Officials estimated Mount Agung’s increasing activity had cost Bali at least US$110 million (S$150 million) from the hit to the tourism sector and loss of productivity while villagers were staying at shelters. Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire” where tectonic plates collide, causing frequent seismic and volcanic activity. In 2010, Mount Merapi on the island of Java erupted after rumbling since 2006, while Mount Sinabung on Sumatra island – which is currently also on the highest alert level – has been active since 2013. [Straits Times October 29, 2017]

Volcano experts outline future scenarios for volcanic Mount Agung

The head of the subsection for the Volcanic Eruption Mitigation Agency (PVMG), Devy Kamil Syahbana, has explained that based on recorded data, the magma reservoirs below Mount Agung in Bali have not managed to find a outlet on the mountain’s surface. Quoted by Metrobali.com, Devy said on Monday, October 23,2017, “At this time, the magma is still insufficient to penetrate the surface. There is still a cover that is stronger than the power of the subterranean magma. The magma continues to battle against this protective layer.”

Based on this factor, theoretically there are three possible scenarios regarding the future of Mount Agung. First, said Devy, if there is a new supply of magma the reservoir will be reenergized to continue its journey to the surface. “If this happens,” he said, “then the potential of an eruption in the near term is possible.”

The second possibility, if there is a new supply of magma, but in a small quantity, then the magma will cause more earth tremors, but only on a small and continuing basis. Adding: “In this instance, then the possibility of an eruption in the near future remains small, but the chance of an eruption in the long term will continue.” The third scenario, Devy outlined is if there is no new supply of magma, then a “de-gassing” process will occur in which gas seeps from the magma reducing its mobility. “In time, the magma will crystallize and when that happens, the chance of an eruption will diminish,” said Devy. The PVMG is currently evaluating all data from Mount Agung to determine which of the three scenarios apply in the current situation. [www.balidiscovery.com October 27, 2017]

Swimmer’s body found at Rota swimming hole

The body of open ocean swimmer Monte Monfore was found on Tuesday afternoon at a swimming hole in Rota, Northern Mariana Islands. Asked for the possible cause of death, a Department of Public Safety police investigator said they are not at liberty to comment on the ongoing investigation as it might jeopardize the integrity of the case.

Monfore, 56, was known for swimming for environmental and social causes. Originally from California, he also lived in Bali, Indonesia and had just moved to Rota recently. In an email to Variety, the DPS spokesman, Police Lt. Jason Tarkong, said Monfore’s body was found floating face down at the swimming hole in Pinatang Park, and it was called in by a witness at about 3 p.m. on Oct. 24. Tarkong said police and Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded, and medics conducted cardiac pulmonary resuscitation.

The victim was then brought to Rota Health Center where he was pronounced dead, Tarkong added. He said the case is under investigation. [Marianas Variety October 27, 2017]

Opening ceremony of Bali Mandara Hospital delayed as Sanur residents protest, demanding more job at the health facility

The Provincial Government’s plans for the soft opening of the Bali Mandara Hospital on Saturday, October 28, 2017, were delayed when hundreds of members of the Sanur Community wearing traditional clothing staged demonstrations to disrupt the hospital’s inauguration. The State News Agency Antara said many of the protestors carried signs proclaiming “Sanur Citizens on the March Refusing to be Duped”. They marched from Mertasari Beach to the hospital located on the Bypass in Sanur. The local citizens were seeking the fulfillment of alleged promises that 10% of all employment positions at the new international standard hospital would be given to members of the Sanur Community.

I Wayan Maryiana Wandira, the deputy chairman of the Denpasar House of Representatives (DPRD-Denpasar) and a resident of Sanur, told the press that the Provincial Government of Bali must make a written commitment supporting the 10% employment quota. Of the 500 employees recruited to work at the new hospital, only 7 come from the Sanur community, with 4 of that number “newcomers” to Sanur as opposed to ancestral members of the community. The leadership of the Sanur Development Foundation is demanding at least 50 jobs be reserved for Sanur residents.

In an effort to stave off further protests, the province is now offering 23 positions at the hospital to Sanur residents. According the NusaBali, on Wednesday, October 25, 2017, the Governor said that 23 remaining vacancies would be reserved for people from Sanur ranging from doctors to administrators to laundry workers, providing qualified candidates in Sanur can be found. The Governor of Bali, meanwhile, denies that any promise of a quota for employment at the new hospital was every made to Sanur residents, holding fast to the principle that the best people for each position would guide hiring.

The demonstrations were timed by protestors to coincide and disrupt the opening ceremony for the new hospital. As a result, a long traffic jam was created stretching from the Jalan Hayum Wuruk intersection to an area near the entrance to the Bali Toll Road at Benoa. Hundreds of uniformed police were positioned in front of the hotel as a security measure. [www.balidiscovery.com October 29, 2017]

Government announces plan to regulate online taxi hailing system effective November 1, 2017

The Jakarta Globe reports that effective November 1, 2017, new regulations will come into effect regulating online transportation providers in Indonesia. The new rules will regulate minimum and maximum tariffs, require drivers and vehicles providing online service to register with the government, and submit to supervision by tax authorities. The new regulations were announced by a spokesperson for the Ministry of Communications and Information on Thursday, October 19, 2017.

The emergence of the online transportation system – including lead operators such as Go-Car, Uber, and Grab – has evoke strong protest from conventional taxi operators who complain the online taxi hailing system represents unfair competition. Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said: “We want to create equality. With equality, all stakeholders will be able to live side by side.”

Online taxi operators will be now be required to show vehicle and driver registrations as taxis and put an insurance cover in place. While public reviews and discussions are planned in key cities across Indonesia before the November 1st implementation, Denpasar was not among the list of cities listed by the the Jakarta Globe for the socialization of the new regulations. [www.balidiscovery.com October 22, 2017]

Dutch man arrested in Bali for allegedly importing cannabis extract

A Dutch man has been arrested in Bali and is being transferred to Jakarta after law enforcement discovered he had been running a “green” business on the island for the past two years, allegedly exporting cannabis extract into Indonesia from the Netherlands. Two kilograms of cannabis concentrates, more commonly referred to as cannabis extract was reportedly secured as evidence from a Dutch national whom police have identified as “Max.”

The 37-year-old was arrested at a villa in Batu Belig, North Kuta in the early hours of Sunday morning, around 12:30am. It’s understood that the suspect was arrested as he was about to receive a shipment of cannabis extract. Popular uses of extracts include management of stress and anxiety, along with the treatment of a number of physical ailments. “He is being taken to national police police headquarters for further investigation. There were seven officers from headquarters, escorting him,” Merdeka quoted an unidentified police source as saying.

After being apprehended, Max was taken to a Bali Police station in Denpasar, but he is just “in transit” there, according to Merdeka’s police source. “There is no investigation by (Bali) Province police. They are just helping coordinate to bring the suspect to national police headquarters,” the source said. Jakarta was apparently the point of entry for the drugs. “The drugs entered through Jakarta, then went to Bali and would have been circulated by the suspect.” The Dutch man had been on police’s radar for some time and had been living in Bali for the past two years. Bali Police’s Deputy Narcotics Director, Supt. Sudjarwoko confirmed the Dutch man’s arrest and that the case was being handled by national police.

“Yes, it’s true. But it’s headquarters’ case. We are just helping. The suspect has been taken to headquarters,” Sudjarwoko said. Charges do not appear to have been pressed yet as police transfer the man to Jakarta and deepen their investigation. Anti-drug trafficking laws in Indonesia are extremely harsh, with the death penalty being the maximum punishment for the most severe cases. [Coconuts Bali October 30, 2017]

Underpass construction expected to cause interruptions in water supply for areas south of Bali’s airport

DenPost reports that an estimated 25,000 water customers in South Bali of the water utility – PDAM- may experience service interruptions during the construction of the new underpass at the entrance to Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport. Those who may suffer piped water interruptions in service live in Jimbaran, Nusa Dua, Jalan Pratama Tanjung Benoa, and other housing developments in South Bali.

I Ketut Golak, the CEO of PDAM Mangutama Badung, said on Friday, October 27, 2017: “Indeed, this area is at the heart of PDAM in South Badung. It is certain that during the project (underpass construction) there will be periods when service is affected, but we have anticipated this situation. There is no need to worry.” Golak said his office has prepared 4 water trucks that are on stand by 24 hours a day should water service be interrupted. If the four trucks are insufficient, he said additional trucks could be utilized from other PDAM offices. [www.balidiscovery.com October 29, 2017]

Judge slams immigrant who sped off after he ran over a man

An immigrant who sped off after almost killing a pedestrian with his car said he didn’t stop because it wasn’t the done thing in his home country of Indonesia. A judge slammed Paulus Rozali for his argument when he appeared at the Downing Centre Court in Sydney on Tuesday. Rozali ran down a 68-year-old man in Wiley Park, Sydney’s southwest, causing the man to suffer bleeding to the brain, a fractured skull and fractured femur. Rozali was disqualified from driving for three years and ordered to complete 125 hours community service when he was sentenced in May.

He appealed the sentence because he thought it was too severe, Seven News reported. Rozali argued he didn’t stop because drivers in Indonesia would be attacked by witnesses if they ever stopped. He also said he didn’t stop because it wasn’t stated in the NSW driver’s manual. Judge Paul Conlon slammed Rozali for his argument, saying ‘it doesn’t have to be’.

‘It’s basic common sense. When you hit someone, you stop and render assistance,’ Judge Conlon said. While Judge Conlon acknowledged Rozali was remorseful, he said failing to stop and help was a serious crime. Judge Conlon said the original sentence handed down to Rozali in May was lenient, and dismissed his appeal. Rozali will be disqualified from driving until 2020. [Daily Mail October 17, 2017]

Bali police cracking down on magic mushroom sellers

The Bali Police have arrested three magic mushroom sellers and confiscated 1.16 kilograms of psilocybin mushrooms on Jalan Kubu Anyar in Kuta. The three men arrested on October 22, 2017, were identified by Beritabali.com as Hariyanto (31), Muasin (31) and Suwito (53).

The hallucinogenic mushrooms are classified as a Type 1 narcotic in Indonesia punishable by 4-12 years in prison. The more than one kilogram of “magic mushrooms” had been divided across 138 plastic envelopes ready for sale to the public. Also confiscated by police, were an electric blender used to make mushroom shakes and a sum of money. [www.balidiscovery.com October 29, 2017]