Local News

Overwork leads to deaths of 270 election staff after Indonesian poll

Ten days after Indonesia held the world’s biggest single-day elections, more than 270 election staff have died, mostly of fatigue-related illnesses, an official says. The 17 April elections were the first time the country of 260 million people combined the presidential vote with national and regional parliamentary polls, with the aim of cutting costs. Voting was largely peaceful and was estimated to have drawn 80 per cent of the total 193 million voters, who each had to punch up to five ballot papers at one of more than 800,000 polling stations.

But conducting the eight-hour vote in the archipelago that stretches more than 5000 kilometres from its western to eastern tips proved to be both a Herculean logistical feat and deadly for officials, who had to count ballot papers by hand. As of Saturday night, 272 election officials had died, mostly from overwork-related illnesses, while 1878 others had fallen ill, Arief Priyo Susanto, spokesperson of the General Elections Commission (KPU), said. The Health Ministry issued a circular letter on Tuesday urging health facilities to care for sick election staff, and the Finance Ministry is working on compensation for families of those who had died, Mr Susanto added.

The KPU has come under fire due to the rising death toll. “The KPU is not prudent in managing the workload of staff,” said Ahmad Muzani, deputy chairman of the campaign of opposition presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, reported by news website Kumparan.com. Mr Prabowo, who independent pollsters said was the loser of the 2019 polls, had alleged widespread cheating and his campaign claimed some officials punched ballots in favour of incumbent President Joko Widodo. Mr Widodo’s security minister said the allegations were baseless. Both candidates have declared victory, though quick counts suggested Mr Widodo won the election by around 9-10 percentage points. The KPU will conclude vote counting and announce winners of the presidential and parliamentary elections on 22 May. [Reuters April 28, 2019]


Plans To Develop 2002 Bali Bombing Site Halted

A controversial project to build a multi-story development at the site of the 2002 Bali bombings that killed more than 200 people has been put on hold following complaints from Australia, which lost dozens of citizens in the attacks. The ground-breaking ceremony for the five-story building was scheduled for Wednesday, but local officials said it has been postponed to give the property owners and a victims’ association that wants to build a memorial garden on the site the chance to reach an agreement. “The construction plan has been temporarily halted, next week we will facilitate a meeting between the owner and representatives of Bali Peace Park Association,” head of local tourism agency Made Badra told AFP Wednesday.

Some 88 Australian nationals were among 202 people killed – most of them Western holidaymakers. The local investment board granted permission for the developer to build on the site of the destroyed Sari Club, located in the tourist hub Kuta, in December last year. Badra denied the suspension was caused by intervention from the government or pressure from Australia, claiming the property owners and the victims’ association needed more time to negotiate a price. Plans to build a five-storey building which would include a restaurant, a small business centre and a museum for the bombing victims memorial has angered Australia. Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison called the plan “deeply distressing” and said he would demand the Indonesian government resolve the issue.

Property owner Lila Tania previously said the land had not been used for 17 years, causing her family to suffer financial losses. Tania said she was willing to sell the property to Bali Peace Park Association if it could offer her a reasonable price. Australia suffered the highest number of casualties in the explosions, which were the worst peacetime attacks on its citizens. [Urdupoint.com May 1, 2019]


Fire at Bali Airport temporarily disrupts domestic flights

Several check-in counters for domestic flights at I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Badung, Bali, have been temporarily moved to the international terminal after fire broke out in the domestic terminal on Friday afternoon. Passengers flying with Air Asia and Lion Air have been directed to Island E at the international departure terminal for check-in since           Saturday. The head of the airport’s communication and legal section, Arie Ahsanurrohim, said that counters 23 to 62 in the domestic terminal would be closed for the next 72 hours. It is predicted that all check-in counters would be reopened in the domestic terminal on April 22. Boarding gates 1 to 6 in the domestic terminal would operate as normal. “All International check-ins for Air Asia will be relocated from Island E to Island A at the international departure terminal,” Arie added.

Domestic flight check-ins for Garuda Indonesia, Sriwijaya Air, Nam Air and Citilink remain in the domestic terminal at counters 1 to 22. Friday’s fire had disrupted at least 19 flights before it was extinguished after 30 minutes by at least three Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) units and three pumper trucks of the Badung Fire Agency. No casualties were reported. The fire started at 4:50 p.m. local time and was extinguished at about 5:20 p.m. The terminal was evacuated and all passengers remained safe. There were four Lion Air, five Garuda Indonesia, two NAM Air, two Batik Air, one Wings Air, one Air Asia, three Citilink and one Sriwijaya Air flights disrupted. Some flights did depart on Friday night. The fire   did not affect the airport runaway. While the police are still investigating the cause of the fire, it is expected that all activities and check-in counter arrangements would get back to normal by April 23. [The Jakarta Post April 23, 2019]


Joko Widodo wants to move Indonesia’s capital out of Java

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has announced that he will move the capital of south-east Asia’s largest economy away from the crowded main island of Java, decommissioning Jakarta for the first time in the country’s history as an independent nation. “The president chose to relocate the capital city to outside of Java, an important decision,” Minister Bambang         Brodjonegoro told a news conference after a cabinet meeting, adding that the administration had yet to pick a new location. He said moving the capital should take between five and 10 years, citing examples such as Brazil, Malaysia and Kazakhstan. Mr Brodjonegoro said the new capital should be in the geographical centre of the archipelago nation, should be in a place with a large availability of land that belonged to the government or state-owned enterprises, and was free from the threat of natural disasters, including the volcanos, tsunamis, land erosion and forest fires to which Indonesia is prone. It should be an existing city with an airport and a seaport, and have 30,000 to 40,000 hectares of available land and clean water, he said.

These conditions make it a difficult task to find a suitable place in Indonesia, but it means the island of Kalimantan (Borneo) or Sulawesi are the most likely options. Jakarta, a port city, is sinking at a rate of 7cm per year, and much of it now lies below sea level. Its rivers are polluted. Greater Jakarta is the fourth most populated city in the world and is horrendously congested, so procuring land for government projects including roads and public transport projects has made addressing its problems difficult. However, much of the rest of the nation is prone to the natural disasters the freshly elected president says he is keen to avoid.

In remarks at the start of a limited meeting of his cabinet, Mr Joko agreed that the relocation of the troubled capital had been discussed for at least 60 years, and by virtually every Indonesian president. “But no decision has ever been taken, and a thorough plan has never been made,” he said. A visionary government would ask whether Jakarta in the future could “carry two burdens simultaneously as the centre of the government and the business centre?” Mr Joko said. “I believe that, if we prepare well from the start of the process, then, God willing, we will be able to bring this big idea into being”. Mr Brodjonegoro said the country was losing billions of dollars per year through traffic congestion, with commuting times for many people four to five hours per day. Java itself – which carries more then half the country’s population – is itself reaching its environmental carrying capacity, Mr. Brodjonegoro said, as agricultural land was being converted to housing. [Sydney Morning Herald April 29, 2019]


Another term for Indonesia’s Jokowi

Earlier predictions of a double-digit landslide victory for incumbent President Joko Widodo (‘Jokowi’) and his vice-presidential nominee Ma’ruf Amin in Indonesia’s presidential election on 17 April 2019 were not borne out. A ‘quick count’ of sample polling results by reputable pollsters indicated that the Jokowi-Ma’ruf combination had defeated the Prabowo Subianto-Sandiaga Uno pairing by 54 to 45 percent, a nine percent margin and close to the outcome when Jokowi and Prabowo faced one another in 2014. Although Prabowo and his supporters have contested the pollsters’ results, these quick count projections have been accurate in three previous elections. More significantly, the eight leading pollsters reached similar conclusions, with Jokowi obtaining winning margins of 8 to 10 percent. [Eurasiareview.com April 30, 2019]


Burger King on Jalan Sunset in Bali employing highly-skilled deaf counter staff

As reported on local social media, the popular Burger King outlet on Jalan Sunset in Kuta, Bali has recently made an importantly inclusive move for the “differently skilled” by hiring the deaf to join their team of cashiers and order takers. Taking advantage of new technology applications (shown), the Burger King management has installed several specially-modified service counters that display signs advising that their counter staff is deaf and asking they point to a lighted sign board to select the items they wish to order.

The order is summarized and once a final approval is issued, the food order is bagged and payment collected by the deaf counter staff. All reports indicate the innovation in ordering is running smoothly, suggesting among the ever-smiling Burger King staff the biggest smiles may be from deaf workers who have the opportunity to demonstrate on a daily basis that, given the chance, they can make a meaningful contribution to any work environment. [Bali Update April 29, 2019]


Largest cancer center in Bali being built in Sanur, set to open in 2020

A new cancer center is set to open in the near future in Bali, aimed at alleviating the burden on the island’s one currently-operating cancer treatment and providing more treatment options to the island’s large number of cancer patients. The facility, currently under development in Bali’s Mandara General Hospital (RSUD Bali Mandara) in Sanur, is expected to be operational in 2020.

The cancer center was conceptualized to ease the burden on Sanglah General Hospital in Denpasar – the only state-owned hospital in Bali that has a cancer treatment facility – which officials say is currently overwhelmed with cancer patients. “At the moment, radiation and chemotherapy are focused at Sanglah. Patients have to queue, even up to one year, for their radiation treatment. Sometimes they could only be treated when they were in their late stages of cancer, or when they already had a small chance of survival. Most of the time, the [radiation therapy] devices are also broken,” said Ketut Suarjaya, head of Bali Provincial Services, on Tuesday as quoted by Kompas.

RSUD Bali Mandara President Director Gede Bagus Darmayasa said the cancer treatment center will be the most technologically-advanced in Bali, equipped with new cancer treatment devices approved by the Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency (Bapeten). The building will consist of three floors, with the top floor designated a nuclear medical center with seven observation rooms. The center will have two sets of cancer treatment facilities with a total capacity of up to 100 patients per day. However, Gede said they’ll only build one of them for the first stage of development set to be completed in 2020. [Coconuts Bali April 25, 2019]