Development or secret agenda ?
Bali, Indonesia has been regarded as paradise on earth by many. The eclectic mix of culture, religion and natural treats have welcomed weary travellers for years and rejuvenated them. There have been sour notes in between, like the Bali bombing of 2002 (known as 12 October to the Balinese), but the Balinese Hindus have bounced back and life goes on as usual. All this may change, if the Indonesian government and those with jihadi mentality are allowed to have their way.
The new government under President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono recently passed an order (Presidential Regulation No. 51/2014 ) that cancelled the special protected status of Bali’s Benoa Bay. The reason? To facilitate the construction of a modern tourist town where the world can come to relax. Also, this project will provide a major boost to the economy right from the start by improving employment rates. This sounds like something any good government would do, but the Balinese Hindus and the environmentalists are up in arms against the Indonesian government. The environmentalists (all around the world) have condemned the Indonesian government’s callous decision to exploit a protected spot that is home to one of the coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass beds. And the Balinese Hindus are simply afraid that their centuries old status as a Hindu majority province will be overrun.
Balinese Hinduism under siege
India and Indonesia have a shared Hindu history which is evident from the many ancient temples located there. Hindu Dharma is one of the six recognised religions in Indonesia and the 4 million Hindus there constitute about 2% of the total population. Of these 4 million Hindus, a majority of them live in beautiful Bali (Hindus make up for about 90% of the Balinese population). However, with the Indonesian government intent on flooding Bali with cheap unskilled labour from other parts of Indonesia, the Balinese Hindus fear that the Hindu identity may not last long.
Hindu leaders have expressed concern that such unchecked migration will bring in the rising fundamentalism seen in the rest of Indonesia. Their apprehension is apparent from the fact that Balinese are now projecting the idea of ‘preserving Bali’ from all foreign influences (especially fundamentalism). Hindu leaders have appealed to the rest of the world Hindu community, specially in India to help them maintain the Hindu identity that has flourished in Bali over the centuries. Some leaders have come up with a change.org petition to the Indonesian government to immediately drop all plans for the Benoa Bay reclamation project.
Petition to to the Indonesian government to immediately drop all plans for the Benoa Bay reclamation project
ForBALI (Forum Rakyat Bali Tolak Reklamasi) is an alliance of the people of Bali, those concerned with conserving Bali’s environment and believe that the Reclamation of Benoa Bay is a step towards the destruction of Bali. Even for Bali has initiated a movement to ensure that the Bali Benoa Bay reclamation project does not see the light of the day. It is interesting to note that several environmentalists around the world have joined this project and are urging Indonesian Government not to go ahead with the project.
While everyone thinking about the environmental catastrophe that project will invite on Bali,
as the mother culture to all the Hindus in the world, it is our duty to ensure that the interests of our Hindu brethren in Indonesia are preserved. We should ensure that our Government tells the Indonesian government in no uncertain terms that ‘any attempt to strangle the Hindu population of Bali will have strong repercussions on international ties’.
One can read a report from Jakarta Post to know more !