Situation on Bali

Jan Henning Steffen jsteffen at
Mon Oct 25 07:48:10 EDT 1999

Dear coral listers,

in relation to the Bali 2000 pro and contra debate in the last weeks
(regardless of the final location of the 9 ICRS) the situation analysis
below by J.M. Daniels might be of interest to the coral listers, who asked
for news regarding the situation on Bali based on last weeks news reports.

Jan H. Steffen

>From: "Bali Update" <baliupdate at>

>Subject: BALI UPDATE #162
>Date: Son, 24. Okt 1999 17:16 Uhr

>Last Thursday, the peace that Bali had so proudly boasted throughout the
>current national democratization process was breached. The strong community
>values founded on Hindu principles of harmony, gave way during a frenetic 24
>hours period of street marches, blocked roads and the destruction of several
>government offices and other buildings.
>Anger and frustration formed the basis for random acts of outrage. The
>people of Bali initially saw the presidential victory in Parliamentary
>voting by Gus Dur over Megawati Sukarnoputri on Wednesday as an attempt to
>deny the popular will for "Mega's" election to a position of senior power in
>the government. On the Thursday morning following the presidential vote,
>citizens began to gather in the capital city of Denpasar and other municipal
>areas of the island.  Their exasperation gradually transformed into action
>as demonstrators burnt tires on main roads, ripped out traffic signs and
>streetlights and felled trees in an effort to bring traffic on the island to
>an absolute standstill. In Denpasar and in the northern city of Singaraja,
>regional and provincial government offices were attacked and burnt. A
>shopping center and several bank offices were also damaged.
>As in the past, foreign visitors and tourist areas were not the targets of
>the crowds' anger. Unfortunately, tourist services did suffer as tour busses
>and limousines were caught in the gridlock and forced to disembark
>passengers on blocked streets where the hapless holiday makers tried to walk
>back to their hotels or the airport. Some quick-thinking operators did
>manage to intercept their tours via hand phone, diverting transportation to
>upper island hotels rather than risk the trip back past blockaded highways.
>Those tourists walking through the barricaded streets were not molested by
>the protestors who took pains to make it clear they had no quarrel with
>foreign visitors.
>The single incident involving a foreign entity occurred on Thursday
>afternoon when the Australian Consulate in Denpasar was stoned. Consulate
>officials in Denpasar were quick to point out, however, that they did not
>see the event as an expression of anti-Australian sentiment. Prior to the
>stoning, representatives from the demonstrators visited the consulate to
>assure them they had nothing to fear as the protests were about the election
>process, not Australian-Indonesian political relations. In fact, in a formal
>statement issued by the Consulate, the stone  throwing attack was depicted
>as the result of nearby roads being blocked to protestors who had already
>been in the hot sun for 3 hours. A spontaneous act, there was no chanting of
>anti-Australian slogans or threats prior to the stoning of the consulate by
>the passing parade.
>The cause of the protest and its final solution both took place within a
>single time frame of just 24 hours. On Thursday evening, "Ibu" Megawati was
>elected to the Vice President's post and within minutes of the poll's
>results being broadcast on national television, street protests gradually
>turned into street parties. Rice wine sales were brisk as Balinese
>celebrated the election of a woman who rightly claims family roots in Bali.
>With the light of day on Friday morning, Bali began its struggle back to
>normalcy. Local village councils, often assisted by workers from local
>hotels and restaurants,  cooperated to remove debris and barricades from the
>streets, allowing traffic once again to resume its normal flow.
>Bali, which had so carefully maintained the peace over the past year and one
>half, lost in a single day its right to claim a largely unblemished record
>of political unrest. To have failed in the 11th hour to maintain the peace
>before the dawning of a "new Indonesia," has left many residents of the
>island bitterly disappointed and genuinely embarrassed by any inconvenience
>caused to its foreign visitors.
>The good news is, however, very good indeed. The many months of biding time,
>as we watched developments on the national political stage is now over.
>Political pundits are for the first time unable to identify the next
>"political crisis" awaiting Indonesia. While the many economic and social
>political restructuring issues still loom ahead, those occupying the lead
>positions of power are empowered to find solutions and take remedial steps
>in the name of and on behalf of the people of the Republic.
>Moreover, Indonesia now has a President and Vice-President who openly refer
>to themselves as a "brother-sister" team. Together they represent the most
>popular and pluralistically possible  outcome to Indonesia's first fair and
>open election process. Indonesians, from an unprecedented wide spectrum of
>religious, cultural and economic backgrounds, appear united in their
>enthusiastic support of the country's new leaders who promise to create an
>open government responsive to the needs of the public.
>Yesterday, while thinking about how to relate the recent events in this
>edition of the Bali Update, it suddenly dawned on me that precisely because
>of the events of the past few days, Bali is now somehow a very changed
>place.  A tentative, halting approach to the future has been replaced,
>almost overnight, by a sense of hope and upbeat enthusiasm about the
>nation's future.
>Full speed ahead. God speed Indonesia.
>Now may really be the time to visit the island of the Gods to witness the
>rebirth of a nation.
>Bali . . .truly NOW, better than ever.

>J.M. Daniels Editor/ Chairman PATA BALI CHAPTER
>editor at
>Telephone: 62 - (0) 361 - 286283 Facsimile: 62 - (0) 361 - 286284

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