Local News

Central gov’t apologizes for damage caused by Benoa Bay reclamation, says project will be stopped

An official from Indonesia’s Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs apologized for the environmental damage caused by the reclamation of Benoa Bay and confirmed in a meeting with Bali Governor Wayan Koster that the controversial project will be put to a stop. “We apologize to everyone. The environmental damage, it was not something that anyone wished for. This fundamental, technical and management error will be corrected,” said Ridwan Djamaluddin, Deputy for Infrastructure at the ministry, as quoted by Bali Express.

Last month, Koster issued a formal letter urging state-owned port operator PT Pelabuhan Indonesia (Pelindo) III to stop the reclamation of Benoa Bay. The move came after a monitoring team found that 17 hectares of mangrove forest in the area were destroyed because of the project. The team, consisting of officials from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry as well as Bali’s Environmental Agency, also found that Pelindo’s reclamation project in Benoa Bay had violated a number of regulations, including the absence of revetment and silt screen, which was already laid out in an environmental impact assessment, locally known as AMDAL.

The Benoa Bay reclamation project has been controversial since it was first proposed in 2012, sparking resistance movement organized by the Balinese People’s Forum to Reject Reclamation (ForBALI), a group of activists made up of artists, musicians, lawyers and other impassioned locals. Launched in 2013, the movement have consistently took to the streets and highlighted concerns that the reclamation project will have damaging impact to the environment. In response to this most recent development in the project, ForBALI coordinator Wayan Gendo Suardana said that the government’s apology is not enough.

“A mere apology will be bad precedent for environmental protection in Bali and in Indonesia,” Gendo said. He emphasized that Pelindo must be required to recover the area that has been impacted by the project in order to set an example for the future.

The initial plan in Benoa Bay was to build an all-encompassing port facility, which included hotels, resorts and even a shopping arcade and golf course. Now, Ridwan said that those plans will be reviewed, though the main plan to have Benoa Port as a cruise ship harbor is still a go. “As we all know, the government is working hard to boost tourism, and Bali is Indonesia’s       backbone, so we are planning to develop the Benoa Port to be the main harbor for cruise ships,” Ridwan said, as quoted by Kumparan. [coconuts.co September 9, 2019]


Airport authority alerted to lapse in quality control after bus catches fire at Ngurah Rai Airport last week

An airport official said today the bus that caught on fire within Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport complex last week was allegedly caused by a short circuit in the engine, highlighting a lapse in quality control of the vehicles and their operations. “For the time being, we see there was a short circuit near the car’s battery,” Elfi Amir, who heads one of Bali’s airport authority offices, told Kumparan. No casualties were reported from the incident, which occurred on Friday afternoon at the ground support equipment (GSE) area of the airport. The fire was promptly extinguished by airport authorities soon after, and reportedly did not affect flight or terminal operations in Ngurah Rai.

As depicted in a number of posts shared on social media, however, the scene of the fire that day appeared to be quite dramatic, with black smoke rising from the affected passenger bus. Elfi said the incident showed a lapse in quality control, and added that drivers operating the passenger bus at the airport were not equipped to operate fire extinguishers in emergency situations. “There should be some kind of training, of which there hasn’t been any. When he received his permit, the driver should also receive training on how to use the fire extinguishers, but in reality this doesn’t happen,” Elfi said. He reassured that his office is working to rectify these issues, and will continue to provide guidance and recommendations in order to ensure that operations at Ngurah Rai continue to meet established standards. [coconuts.co September 11, 2019]


B.J. Habibie dies at 83; ushered in democracy in Indonesia

B.J. Habibie, who as president of Indonesia ushered in an era of democracy that ended the brutal and corrupt rule of Suharto, whose 32-year dictatorship was one of the most brutal and corrupt of the 20th century, died on Wednesday at a hospital in Jakarta. He was 83. His son Thareq Kemal Habibie said the cause was heart failure.

“Please allow me on behalf the Indonesian people, and the government, to convey our deep sorrow,” Indonesia’s president, Joko Widodo, said. “We know Mr. Habibie as a world-class scientist, the father of technology in Indonesia and the third president of the Republic of Indonesia.” Mr. Habibie was working for the aerospace manufacturer Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm in Germany in 1974 when Suharto persuaded him to return to Indonesia and develop the country’s technology. He held several posts before Suharto named him to his cabinet as minister of research and technology in 1978. Twenty years later, he appointed him vice president and his successor.

At the time, Indonesia was struggling to recover from the Asian economic crisis, and Suharto’s government was facing mounting opposition. Suharto stepped down barely two months later, and Mr. Habibie became president. Though he was president for only 17 months, the shortest time in office of any Indonesian president, Mr. Habibie had a crucial role in laying the foundation for a democratic Indonesia. He called the first free elections in a generation, released political prisoners, protected freedom of the press and women’s rights, reduced the role of the military in politics, and moved to decentralize the government. He also paved the way for the province of East Timor, an island that was once a Portuguese colony, to become independent. The move was highly unpopular with Indonesians who did not want to see their country lose territory.

“It’s fair to say that Habibie proved the skeptics (like me) wrong,” Sidney Jones, director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict in Jakarta, said by email. “In his short tenure he managed to leave a stronger reformist legacy than any other post-Suharto president.” Ms. Jones added, “On some issues he was swept along by popular pressure, but at heart he showed himself to be a genuine democrat.” At the same time, Mr. Habibie was unable to break completely with Suharto, his mentor. To his own political detriment, Mr. Habibie halted an investigation into allegations that Suharto and members of his family had siphoned off vast amounts of wealth from the government. In October 1999, days before an electoral assembly was scheduled to select a new president, Mr. Habibie withdrew his candidacy, recognizing that defeat was inevitable.

“I was satisfied by my term in office,” he told reporters at the time. “I was given the opportunity to devote myself to this nation. I’m happy that democracy has started in Indonesia, and I hope this will continue whoever the new president is.” He was succeeded by Abdurrahman Wahid. In rolling back the Suharto dictatorship, Mr. Habibie freed the East Timor independence leader, Xanana Gusmao, who had served seven years in prison. Mr. Gusmao became East Timor’s first president in 2002 and later its prime minister for seven years. A video clip that circulated on the internet on Thursday showed Mr. Gusmao bidding an emotional farewell to Mr. Habibie at his hospital bedside. On Aug. 30, the 20th anniversary of the vote that granted it independence, East Timor named a bridge after Mr. Habibie in Dili, the capital.

Bacharudin Jusuf Habibie was born on June 25, 1936, on the island of Sulawesi in Eastern Indonesia. He went to Europe in 1955 to attend university and spent most of the next two decades earning a degree in engineering and a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering in Germany and working in the aeronautics industry there. He returned to Indonesia for three months in 1962 and reunited with and married his high school sweetheart, Hasri Ainun Besari, who returned to Germany with him. Their 48-year marriage became the subject of two popular movies in Indonesia. She died in 2010. Mr. Habibie advised at least two of his successors as president, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Mr. Joko. He also established the Habibie Center, an independent research institute dedicated to the modernization and  democratization of Indonesians. In addition to his son, Mr. Habibie is survived by another son, Ilham Akbar Habibie, and six grandchildren. [washingtonpost.com September 11, 2019]


2 foreigners die in Bali boat accident

Two foreigners – a   Brazilian and South African-have died after their boat capsized in rough seas near Bali, the search-and-rescue agency said Monday. The small tourist vessel flipped near the treacherous Devil’s Tear cove on Nusa Lembongan, east of the Indonesian holiday island. The boat’s passengers, a 48-year-old Brazilian and a 43-year-old South African, were declared dead in hospital, the agency said. The boat’s 35-year-old captain survived with serious injuries, it added. Maritime accidents are not uncommon in Indonesia, a Southeast Asian archipelago of some 17,000 islands where safety standards are often lax. [thenews.com September 17, 2019]


Japanese runner dies during 2018 Maybank Bali Marathon

Denpost reports that one of the 11,600 athletes joining the 2019 Maybank Bali Marathon collapsed and died on the course in the village of Blahbatuh, Bali. Dead is a Japanese Athlete, Atsushi Ono (58), who fell while running on Jalan Raya Wisma Gajah Mada in Blahbatuh in from of the Puri Ageng Temple on Sunday morning, September 8, 2019.

Marshalls and medical teams, including a doctor and members of the Gianyar Red Cross, immediately responded to the incident and employed CPR. While the Japanese runner briefly resumed breathing before being placed in a waiting ambulance, he was pronounced dead-on-arrival at the nearby Kasih Ibu Hospital in Saba, Blahbatuh. [balidiscovery.com September 17, 2019]


Bali’s rainy season poised to start before mid-October 2019

The Meteorology, Climate and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) is predicting that Bali’s rainy season could arrive anytime between mid-September until mid-October. The head of the BMKG for Area III including Bali, Mohamad Taufik Gunawan, said the height of Bali’s “dry season” occurred in June-July-August and will come to an end when the rains start anytime before mid-October 2019. In fact, by mid-September intermittent rains have already started in some parts of Bali and expected to bill gradually until  the peak of the rainy season in November and December. [balidiscovery.com September 17, 2019]


Bali: two-headed snake spotted in Indonesia

Residents of a village in   Bali got a shock when they spotted a two-headed snake in their midst – a rare find in the wild. The reptile was seen slithering in the central part of the Indonesian holiday island last week. “When I got home from work, I parked my motorbike next to the snake,” said local resident Gusti Bagus Eka Budaya. “I looked more closely and it turned out to have two heads. I was shocked.” A video shows several children gathered around the tiny serpent – small enough to fit in the palm of a human hand as it slides about a banana leaf decorated with a traditional Balinese Hindu offering. [latestly.com September 5, 2019]


Burger King brilliantly responds to man who shamed them for hiring deaf employee

Burger King Indonesia has slammed an online skeptic for questioning why the company hired a deaf person to be an order taker. Twitter user Lucas criticized Burger King’s intention to hire deaf employees at its branch in Jl. Sunset in Kuta, Bali to join their cashiers and order takers team, according to Bored Panda.

“Should i respect burger king to do this or should i said is   this a marketing strategic sh*t to get our empathy?” the Twitter user wrote. However, the company’s official Twitter account replied to Lucas’ post a day later to slam the user’s speculation. “It’s not a marketing strategic sh*t. It’s just an equal right for everyone to have a decent job thing. Thanks for the shout out tho!” the company said.

Burger King installed specially-modified service counters in their Bali branch, advising customers that their staff is deaf. The sign also asks customers to point to a lighted signboard to select their orders. People under Lucas’ thread supported Burger King’s inclusive move by hiring deaf people and called out the user for being offensive. [nextshark.com September 11, 2019]