Local News

Governor of Bali asks Indonesian government to stop planned geothermal project

With the strong local opposition to the Bedugul geothermal project on Bali, the local governor has now confirmed his   continued opposition and certain assurances by the government in Jakarta that the project will not be pushed forward.

In an endless story about the potential development of a geothermal project in Bali, Indonesia, the regional governor Wayan Koster has confirmed that the geothermal power plant project in Bedugul, Tabanan, will be stopped. Koster claimed to have spoken with the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources (ESDM) Ignasius Jonan. “In addition, related to sensitive issues related to geothermal steam power plants in Bedugul. The Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources was willing to continue, I ask him not to continue,” said Koster in his one-year remarks at an event in Bali earlier this month. Koster also talked about his negotiations related to the termination of the construction of the geothermal power plant project with Jonan. One of the reasons for the project’s development has been the opposition to the project by the local community. The concerns mention continue to center around the sacredness of the project site.

Koster said Jonan finally decided to stop the project. Koster then gave another regional option as a place to develop renewable energy-based electricity generation projects. “There are other places, there are Karangasem, Jembrana, Buleleng, Klungkung where renewable energy is available.

The Bedugul PLTP project, was developed by PT Pertamina Geothermal Energy (PGE) and Bali Energy Ltd with a joint operating contract (KOB) scheme. The development of this project began in 1974 and stagnated in 2005. Quoting CNN Indonesia, since 1997 the community in the Bedugul region has rejected the development of the Bedugul geothermal power plant. Even though exploration permits have been issued in 1996 and drilling permits for six wells have been carried out since 1997. In fact, three geothermal wells have also been exploited, resulting in the project being abandoned and having been stalled since.

Meanwhile, the estimated electrical energy that can be generated from the PLTP Bedugul is 414 MW. The Bali Energy joint contract will be completed in 2040 according to the 2004 contract amendment point, in which the government gets a 34 percent share of net operating income. Apart from that, on August 21, 2019 the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources and Bali Province signed a cooperation agreement to build a new renewable energy-based power plant. One of them is based on solar energy, and another to use Crude Palm Oil (CPO). “Bali’s current capacity of around 1,300 MW until 2025 is estimated to increase to 2,000 MW. My advice is two, first, the addition is 700 MW, so 350 MW is built in the province of Bali, and another 350 MW is supplied from Java, with Java Bali Connection which is 500 kV. My hope is that the 350 MW built in Bali is entirely from new and renewable energy (EBT), “Jonan said after witnessing the Bali MoU with PLN about electricity strengthening with the use of clean energy.

Commentary: This continues the endless story about this project, which is not quite understandable for outsiders. With the economic growth of Bali, mostly through tourism, the energy demand has increased and makes the power supply by cable from Java a factor of increasing instability for Bali. Burning palm oil essentially also creates challenges, not only in the constant supply of the oil, but also emissions that would surely be an issue for the experience of Bali for tourists and the local population. Geothermal energy provides a great opportunity tapping local resources for power generation, and a clean one. Naturally, the religious implications and approach to stakeholder engagement locally is important, but it is sad to see that no consensus can be found on this project. [www.thinkgeoenergy.com September 20, 2019]


Indonesia: Over 100 sacred Balinese dances for money banned

At 63 years old, Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati has dedicated his life to Balinese arts and culture. A prominent member of the Ubud royal family and the Bali deputy governor, popularly called Cok Ace, he actively performs the sacred dances of Calonarang and Topeng Sidakarya in religious ceremonies at temples across Bali. For Cok Ace, dancing is not about getting applause from the audience, let alone money. “I never think about how many people will watch me dancing. I never think whether people will applaud me or not. For me, it’s all about sincerity. A 100 percent offering to God,” he said.

Cok Ace, who is also the chairman of the Bali branch of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association, said he felt sad to see sacred dances being performed only for tourists. The dances are also often performed at tourism festivals, including to break Indonesian-held world records. “Sacred dances should not be performed for commercial purposes. It’s a deviation,” he said. Cok Ace is not the only one who has an uneasy feeling about the phenomenon. Made Bandem, a Balinese dancer and cultural observer, said he feels the same way. Made, who also acts as the chairman of the Balinese Cultural Board (Listibiya), said, “Protection of the sacred dances is badly needed. These dances are the source of all Balinese dances.”

As a response, Bali’s government, along with several concerned institutions, on Tuesday banned 127 sacred dances from being performed in any form for commercial purposes. The institutions are the Bali branch of the Indonesian Hindu Religious Council, the Bali Customary Village Council, Listibiya, the Bali Cultural Agency and the Indonesian Arts Institute (ISI) Denpasar. Their joint statement said: “We prohibit all parties from demonstrating/ showing/staging/performing all kinds of sacred Balinese dances beyond the sacred purposes of Hindu ceremonies.” It also stated that there were a number of sacred dances often performed for nonreligious purposes, such as Rejang, Sanghyang, Baris Gede and Wayang Lemah. “The phenomenon is worrying and it is a concern for artists, cultural observers, indigenous leaders, religious leaders, stakeholders and all Balinese.” The statement listed 127 sacred dances, based on research done by ISI Denpasar, Listibiya and the Bali Cultural Agency. It said that the list could expand.

Made said that Listibiya classified three kinds of Balinese dances in 1997, namely Wali and Bebali as sacred dances and Bali Balihan as an entertainment dance. “Dances categorized as Balih Balihan may be performed for entertainment and tourism purposes,” he said. ISI Denpasar rector I Gede Arya Sugiartha also said that sacred dances performed for commercial purposes made him feel dismayed. “It is important to protect sacred dances from commercialization. “They are sources of values that show the disparity of human and god. We want to keep the values alive,” he said. Bali Gov. Wayan Koster, who acted as a witness of the joint decision, warmly welcomed the ban. Wayan said that commercialization of sacred dances could damage the culture inherited from the ancestors.  “This protection is needed to strengthen our local culture,” he emphasized.

Koster added that since the prohibition is the form of an agreement, not a regulation, no sanctions would be applied. “Living orderly doesn’t mean applying sanctions; [we only need] a mutual understanding, since our concern is to protect Balinese sacred dances.” Cok Ace said that the ban would not stop Balinese dancers from improving their skill and creativity. He said that a Balinese dancer could perform both sacred and non-sacred dances accordingly. “There are rituals and prohibitions that should be obeyed when someone performs a sacred dance. That’s what makes it different from other dances,” he said. [the-japan-news.com September 22, 2019]


Bali to experience a ‘zero shadow day’ on Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Meteorological, Climate and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has announced that for those living in Bali the companionship of their shadow will be briefly suspended at 12:04 pm local time on Wednesday, October 16, 2019. As reported by Beritabali.com, Bali, together with a number of other locations in Indonesia, will experience a fleeting moment of “no shadows” when the sun is positioned exactly over the equator. Explaining this phenomenon, BMKG issued a statement saying explaining that “Zero Shadow Day” will occur in Bali on October 16th when exactly at 12:04 pm Bali-time the sun will be directly over Bali’s latitude with the sun’s ray striking the earth at a perpendicular angle.

Don’t worry, you’ll still have a shadow, but you’ll have to jump up in the air to see your constant companion of self-created shade that will be directly under your feet at that particular moment in time. But, to the casual observer, you’ll appear to have no shadow. Moreover, barring any cloud cover at the time of the phenomenon’s occurrence, the sun may feel slightly warmer than normal. Zero Shadow Days will also take place in Sumatra, Kalimantan, Nusa Tenggara Barat, and Maluku. [www.balidiscovery.com September 29, 2019]


‘Stay composed’: Bali gov’t urges tourists and tourism operators not to fret about proposed criminal code changes

The Bali Provincial Government has issued a statement emphasizing that the current draft revisions of Indonesia’s criminal code (RKUHP) has not yet been passed and urging both tourists and tourism operators on the island to continue activities as usual. “It is a criminal code bill and not yet accepted nor confirmed as a Book of Criminal Code, therefore is not applicable nor valid,” the statement, signed by Bali Vice Governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati, or Cok Ace, said. The statement also noted that President Joko Widodo and the House of Representatives (DPR) have agreed to postpone the passage of the bill, after massive protests led by university students in the capital Jakarta and other cities across the country, including Bali, in recent days.

“Therefore, tourists and tourism operators may stay composed and continue activities as usual,” the Bali provincial government said. The statement comes in response to a slew of international headlines highlighting articles criminalizing sex outside marriage and cohabitation contained in the RKUHP, which is actually just one part of why the bill has been so controversial and heavily criticized. The potential impact of RKUHP, which will also apply to foreigners visiting Indonesia, is of particular concern to Bali, which welcomed more than 6 million foreign tourists last year. That number made up nearly 40 percent of the total number of foreign tourists traveling to Indonesia in 2018.

Last week, the bill even elicited a response from neighboring Australia, which updated its official travel advice to its nationals to warn them about the possibility of the bill passing. Tourism operators have expressed concerns that the RKUHP might change travelers’ minds about coming to Bali, and instead choose other destinations in the region. “It will be something that they take note of, and they will be less inclined to stay in Bali and choose other countries for their holidays,” the head of Bali Tourism Board, Ida Bagus Agung Partha Adnyana, said over the weekend. Teuku Taufiqulhadi, a member of the RKUHP working committee in the DPR, claimed just yesterday that foreigners “need not worry” about the articles criminalizing sex outside of marriage contained in RKUHP. According to the lawmaker, the charges can only be made by immediate family members of those involved. [coconuts.co September 25, 2019]


16 Bali hotels estimated to lose IDR1 billion each after UK travel firm Thomas Cook declared bankruptcy: Bali Tourism Board

The collapse of UK-based global travel firm Thomas Cook has affected more than a dozen hotels in Bali, with each of them estimated to have lost around IDR1 billion (US$70,375), the Bali Tourism Board (BTB) said yesterday. “There are 16 hotels in Bali [which have been affected], from three-stars to five-stars [hotels],” said chief of BTB, Agung Partha Adyana, as reported by IDNTimes. Adyana added that some of the hotels have gone to the British Consulate in Bali regarding the issue and were told that the Consulate would help make arrangements to see them compensated.

Thomas Cook is the world’s oldest travel firm. The company declared bankruptcy on Monday after failing to secure additional funding to cover its US$2.1 billion debts. According to a Sept. 23 report from Business Insider, Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy left hundreds of thousands of tourists stranded around the world, after the company suspended operations of its own airline. Adyana said that some British tourists in Bali have had to pay for their hotel invoice at the end of their stay as a result, despite having made prior arrangements with Thomas Cook. “We tell them that the travel agent has gone bankrupt, and so we are forced to charge the tourists directly. Some of them are angry, but there are those who are willing to pay,” he explained.

In 2018, more than 270,000 tourists visiting Bali came from the United Kingdom, according to data from the Central Statistics Agency (BPS). Adyana noted that Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy is not likely to have a significant impact on UK tourists visiting the island as there are many online     booking agents for tours and hotels available. [coconuts.co September 26th, 2019]