Friday, June 10, 2011


A Sick Joke
That’s Being
on Us All

The shameful and shambolic state of Bali’s – and Indonesia’s – political administration is nowhere more pointedly and distressingly demonstrated than in the continuing and extremely tedious row over planning approvals, where the grandiloquently titled regents of various regencies (think of them rather as chairman of local councils for true perspective, relativity and appropriate power) are thumbing their collective nose at provincial and national environmental laws.
   One focus of this disgraceful situation that is much in the news at present is at Nusa Dua, where the local community vehemently opposes a “Beach World” project that will effectively close off the last remaining area of public beach in the area, a spot where thousands of locals who are neither bloated Javanese plutocrats or their acquisitive local political pals have historically gone on Sundays for a bit of family R&R.
    It’s shocking too that the regent of Badung has been able to call in the assistance of the minister for the interior who scribbled a little note that says Badung can do what it likes within the 1995 regulations because those are ones in force. Even if they are – and presumably this would be because Indonesia’s political apparatus brooks no argument over whether anything is actually ever finalised or inscribed into unarguable law, since apparently nothing ever is – the appropriate advice would be to work with the rules applied by the province of which Badung is but one part. In short, that Badung’s argument (if it has one) is with the Bali provincial government.
    We know, from bitter experience, that regents and developers (domestic and foreign) have absolutely no interest in preserving the environment and will despoil it for profit wherever they can. It is this phenomenon – it’s not confined to Indonesia: it’s a global thing – which environmental and planning laws are supposed to limit.
    At Nusa Dua there has been no consultation of any meaningful extent with the local community, which is having yet another “tourist” excrescence foisted on it because another lot of money-grubbing profiteers have been given a rails run in gouging even more pay dirt out of someone else’s backyard.
    Sadly, this sort of thing is a commonplace in Bali. It is perpetrated as much by opportunistic foreign developers as the native variety, and with as little conscience or care. What needs to be fixed is the regulatory and administrative environment, so that rules are both clear (and sensible, another must) and enforceable.


We heard this week that PLN, Indonesia’s notional power utility, will start work in 2013 on the much vaunted “Bali Crossing” – a plan to string high-tension power lines across the 11 kilometres of the Bali Strait from Java at its narrowest point, so that 300MW of electricity can be fed into Bali’s deficient and defective grid.
    According to local news reports of this impending beneficence, PLN’s planning calls for the wires – and the 70m high towers that will support them – to withstand wind speeds of up to 70 metres a second. That would be a truly magnificent; a world first and an absolute triumph of engineering.
   It’s probably a bit over the top, though. We can safely assume – pun intended – that if we ever get a breeze of 2,520 km/h it will be a tad academic whether the high wires survive.
   Hey chaps, try 7m/s (252km/h or 126 knots). Or have a little chat with the reporters you spoke to if it’s their maths that are wonky.
   Whatever, if the project ever actually gets off the ground, so the speak, and 300MW of electricity are swung into action in Bali, PLN will have to find a whole range of new excuses for blackouts, shocking service delivery and maintenance, and woefully deficient infrastructure.
    In the interim, enjoy the continuing random darkness of the power cuts PLN promised in 2010 were a thing of the past for Indonesia’s premier international holiday resort island.

Bubbles and Squeaks

A loud, though we’re sure thoroughly decorous, affray will shortly be held to commence what organiser Christina Iskandar says is the Diva and Dude dinner series. It’s on June 24 at Vivai with a menu prepared by chef Dean Fisher. Apparently there are free-flow bubbles for the birds included in the Rp250K per head tariff. Sadly the birds in question are from the distaff side and are not superannuated cockatoos.
    It is also the irrepressible Diana Shearin’s birthday (she’s 21 or 18 again or something). According to the event’s Facebook page bubbly Diana would like a dude for her big day. It's such a shame that here at The Cage dude is spelled dud.
    Never mind, it’s sure to be a great night for those attending the affray.

Discordant Echo

The reprehensible Don Storen, whose career as a provider of allegedly adult entertainment in a series of Australian low-lit (and low-life) premises then mutated to a sojourn in our neighbouring island of Lombok, where he was engaged in a number of little enterprises, has lately had another bout with unfortunate publicity.
    We do not refer to his release and immediate deportation some little time ago after serving a four-year sentence in Mataram for playing with little boys. It’s his latest venture into publishing that has caused a flurry. He and some realtors apparently got into business with a free newspaper in Fremantle – the port city of Perth in Western Australia – in circumstances that are (or possibly were: the journal’s fate is unknown at this time) rather less than salubrious.
    By what means we don’t know, but he and his cohorts – including a fictional principal who turned out on investigation to be none than Storen himself wearing another hat, or a tickler perhaps – were outed by the deliciously watchable Australian TV programme Media Watch. It’s an ABC product, naturally. Commercial tabloid TV doesn’t do cerebral at all well.
    It is a sad fact that people like Storen will never understand that membership of the sentient grade of the human race imposes some requirement on them to behave, if not in a completely honourable and open way, at least within the broadest interpretations of decency.
   While he was interfering with Lombok’s way of life and the moral safety of its people, by the way, Storen was an originator of the now defunct monthly English language paper Lombok Times. He had long gone from there when your diarist took up a spell of editing and managing the paper some years ago. But the smell remained, unfortunately.

Change of Tune

Hector is appearing fortnightly in the Bali Advertiser from next Wednesday, with a Diary to suit that widely read and popular publication – which among other things benefits from being both relevant and managed in Bali itself – that the old bird hopes will interest and amuse readers.
    The move prompts a change to this blog. He’ll post the Bali Advertiser diary here but from this week there’ll be a weekly Bali Scratchings column – this is the first – for those who want to read between the lines.

Tweet with Hector @Scratchings or join him on his Facebook: Hector McSquawky.


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