World Bank offers up to $1.4 billion to help Indonesia boost disaster preparedness, recovery

The World Bank will offer quake-stricken Indonesia up to US$1 billion (S$1.37 billion) in funding to boost disaster preparedness and recovery. The money will go towards helping the country shore up its resilience, as well as to support relief and reconstruction efforts in Lombok and Central Sulawesi, where communities are still picking up the pieces after a recent series of deadly disasters left thousands dead and displaced scores more. Funds will be made available when requested by the Indonesian government, said the World Bank in a statement on Sunday (Oct 14), as a marathon week of annual meetings in Bali by the organisation and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) drew to a close. Of the US$1 billion, US$5 million will be set aside for technical assistance to help with recovery and reconstruction planning.

The World Bank, in its statement, outlined some other possible aid options for which the remaining funds could be used, including the strengthening of monitoring and early warning systems, as well as an emergency recovery programme for the rebuilding of critical public facilities and infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools, roads, and water supply systems. The money could go towards cash transfers to the 150,000 poorest families affected by disasters as well, a move aimed at helping disaster survivors get back on their feet by supporting employment and the local economy during the recovery period.

The World Bank also conducted a preliminary damage report to assess the cost of property and infrastructure impacted by the disaster in Central Sulawesi. Its estimate was US$531 million – a figure that excludes loss of life, lost land and disruption to the economy. World Bank chief executive officer Kristalina Georgieva, who visited Palu in Central Sulawesi with Indonesia’s Vice-President Jusuf Kalla last Friday, said: “The government’s immediate relief efforts are robust and impressive. “As we enter the reconstruction period, we are making up to US$1 billion of comprehensive support available for Indonesia. The best memorial for those who lost their lives is to build back better.”

Central Sulawesi was rocked by a 7.4-magnitude tremor that triggered a powerful tsunami last month. This came on the heels of a series of quakes that jolted Lombok and Bali. Indonesia sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, making it vulnerable to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Just last Thursday, a 6.3-magnitude earthquake off East Java province and Bali rattled some hotels where delegates of the IMF-World Bank meetings were housed. Indonesia’s resilience in the face of disaster was praised at the meetings, which, amid spirited discussions on trade and economic matters, also shone the spotlight on pressing concerns such as disaster financing and tackling famines. A fund-raising appeal to participants was launched at the meetings, and prominent figures such as IMF chief Christine Lagarde and United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres visited Palu and Lombok as well. Indonesia’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said: “The government appreciates the attention and support of the international community in our time of need, including from the World Bank Group. “Restoring lives and livelihoods of the people affected by natural disasters is the government’s utmost priority.” [The Straits Times October 14, 2018]


Bali beauty pageant forced to cancel under pressure from anti-LGBT groups 

A Bali beauty pageant promoting HIV education and equality has been called off after mounting pressure from hardline anti-LGBT groups. The event, organized by Yayasan Gaya Dewata – a Denpasar-based Indonesian NGO focusing on HIV/AIDS education, prevention and support-was originally set for Oct. 10. But intolerant groups took to the internet to harass the event’s venue, the Bhumiku Convention Hall in Denpasar, ultimately coercing it into canceling their agreement to host the event. “Online groups harassed and threatened the venue for the event until they were forced to withdraw their support,” a source within YGD, who wished to remain anonymous, told Coconuts Bali on Oct. 15. “This constitutes an unpredicted attempt by extremist anti-LGBT groups to influence events in Bali,” he added.

Although nominally a beauty pageant, contestants had to show training and knowledge in sexual health and HIV issues to appear in the finals at the now cancelled event. Twenty-four contestants narrowed down from 80 applicants, all Indonesian, had been set to compete to take the crowns in separate Mr and Miss categories through talent performances and a drag show. “The event is an important part of the YGD’s HIV prevention efforts, education the community and allowing us to spread our message of HIV prevention and sexual health empowerment to members of the Bali Community.”

Indonesia seems to be experiencing regressing societal attitudes towards the LGBT community in recent years. Although gay sex is not illegal in Indonesia (except in Aceh province, which has special autonomy to enact sharia-based laws), many within Indonesia’s LGBT community say they are terrified by the virulent homophobia espoused by religious leaders and government officials. But prior to this flare-up, Bali has generally not experienced the same LGBT panic as the rest of the country, partly due to its Hindu social norms and identity as a tourist island, allowing its openly gay nightlife to carry on. [Coconuts Bali October 15, 2018]


San Francisco-based vegan burger chain Veganburg announces Indonesian expansion plans

Burger-lovers in South East Asia will soon have something to celebrate. The fast-casual restaurant chain VeganBurg, specializing in plant-based comfort food, is set to expand to Indonesia and beyond. When it launched in 2010, VeganBurg became the world’s first plant-based burger joint. Since then, it has been busy breaking stereotypes surrounding fast food and veganism alike. Its menu is entirely plant-based, but not lacking in flavour or fun; a selection of hot dogs, burgers, soups, salads, and desserts is on offer. The company often gets creative with its dishes, like its seaweed fries and all-vegan sunny-side-up egg. VeganBurg has four locations across   Singapore, with another in San Francisco, California. The new   announcement brings plans to spread across South East Asia, with its sights set foremost on Jakarta and Bali. [LiveKindly October 5, 2018]


Passengers evacuated from burning tour bus on Bali toll road

A smoking bus caused a scene on Bali’s Mandara Toll Road on Wednesday, as passengers had to be evacuated from the burning vehicle in the middle of the road. Coming from the Nusa Dua direction, the bus suddenly experienced problems with its engine, which then triggered a fire. PT Jasamarga Bali Tol spokesperson Putu Gandhi Ginatra confirmed the incident. “It happened at 6:50am. The Mercy bus number B 7235 XA was carrying foreign passengers. Initially, the bus was coming from the direction of Nusa Dua, but before reaching the toll gate, the bus experienced engine problems. After awhile, the bus emitted thick smoke from the engine,” Gandi told Bali Post.

The bus driver pulled the vehicle over to try and prevent congestion and the foreign tourist passengers were made to get out. A joint squad of police and military officers went to the location when they saw the incident. Eventually, the fire department arrived and put out the fire. “After successfully extinguishing it, the bus was taken and secured at the Jasmarga Bali Toll (property),” Gandi said. [Coconuts Bali October 11, 2018]


SITA to deploy smart technologies across Indonesian airports

IT and telecommunication services provider SITA has been selected by PT Angkasa Pura I Persero (AP1) to provide technology to help manage the growing number of flyers arriving in the country. SITA is offering AirportConnect Open to AP1. This common-use platform allows airlines to manage their operations easily at AP1’s 13 airports, including at two of Indonesia’s busiest airports Denpasar (Bali) and Surabaya.

Additionally, the platform will support the launch of SITA’s self-service check-in kiosks, bag-drop and boarding gates and SITA ControlBridge, which integrates the command and control capability of an airport. PT Angkasa Pura I Persero business development director Sardjono Jhony Tjitrokusumo said: “SITA has been a trusted partner to AP1 to help transform our two airports, I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport (Denpasar) in Bali and Juanda International Airport in Surabaya, East Java, to be among the most advanced in Indonesia today.

With more than 110 million passengers last year, Indonesia emerged as the biggest aviation market in Southeast Asia. It is likely to become one of the top four markets globally with a forecasted 355 million travellers by 2036. [Airport Technology October 15, 2018]


Bali remembers victims of 2002 terrorist bombings

On the Indonesian island of Bali, people have remembered victims of the 2002 terrorist bombings that killed 202 people, including foreign tourists. Friday marked 16 years since members of an Islamic extremist group detonated bombs in a busy district on the island. Relatives of the victims and local government officials took part in Friday’s memorial service. They offered prayers, laid flowers and lit candles in front of a cenotaph erected at the site of the bombings.

The mourners included family members of a Japanese couple, Kosuke Suzuki and his wife, Yuka, who were killed in the attack. Kosuke’s mother said she thinks the best way to show how she loves her son was to come to Bali, a place the couple loved. She said she wants many people to share the pain of the victims so that such terrorist attacks will never happen again.

In May, suicide bombings on Indonesia’s second largest city of Surabaya killed 20 people, including the attackers, who were members of a group sympathetic to the Islamic State militant group. Indonesian authorities have been increasingly cracking down on extremists groups across the country. [NHK World – Japan October 13, 2018]


Balinese government passes laws making Balinese dress and language compulsory at particular times and circumstances

Beritabali.com reports that the Provincial Government of Bali has mandated that Balinese dress and Balinese language be made de riguer in Government offices on every Thursday beginning October 11, 2018; every full moon; every new moon (Hari Tilem); every anniversary of the Province’s founding; and every anniversary of a Balinese regency or municipality. The language and dress requirements were announced on Tuesday, October 2, 2018, via Gubernatorial decree No. 79 of 2018 on the use of Balinese dress and Gubernatorial decree No. 80 of 2018 about the preservation and protection of Balinese language, writing and literature issued by Governor Wayan Koster.

In the future, the mandatory use of Balinese will, however, be exempted at government flag raising ceremonies; activities that are both national and international in nature; activities that include agencies from Jakarta; activities that include several provinces; and activities with elements participating from outside Bali. The Governor also said that going forward a “Balinese Language Month” will be established in the Province.

The meeting that was attended by the Deputy Governor, the Regents and Mayors from across Bali, and the Hindu High Council (PHDI Bali) also agreed to go ahead with plans to use Balinese script in all areas across Bali starting on October 5, 2018. The decree states that the names of Government offices and public facilities will be displayed in Balinese script above the same name in Latin script. Also included in the places for Balinese script signage is Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport, the Governor’s office, the Bali House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali), Government Hospitals, monuments, and main roadways. [ www.balidiscovery.com October 16, 2018]