Hows this article I found on the internet dated

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    To think that we have been holidaying there since.

    BALI UPDATE #224 - 01 January 2001


    <> When is a Bomb a Boomerang?
    <> Meanwhile in Bali . . .
    <> Kartika Plaza - Closed Until Further Notice
    <> Nusantara Travel Mart Set for April
    <> Five Edit Scholarships Available for 2001
    <> Oberoi Building in East Timor?
    <> Anything to Declare?
    <> New Year's Reflections


    On Christmas Eve a series of synchronized bomb blasts rocked Jakarta; West,
    Central and East Java; and Lombok, marring the festive season. Aimed at Protestant and Catholic churches and timed to go off as people were attending Christmas Eve services, some 17 people lost their lives and over 50 other people suffered injuries.

    Trained, well-orchestrated and using sophisticated explosive devices, the bombers had almost everything figured out. Almost everything, that is, except the hearts and the minds of the Indonesian people.

    Indonesia's President aptly described the bombings as the final, desperate attempts by those elements of society attempting to stop the final erosion of their power base. In retrospect, the bombings may now prove to be a deadly boomerang against the godless animals that perpetrated these tragedies.

    Almost before the ambulances left the scene of the bombings, religious leaders from all faith gathered to condemn the attacks. Police quickly uncovered evidence that similar attacks were planned to take place against Moslem targets two days later during "Idul Fitri" Celebrations to start what the cowardly perpetrators hoped would be a vicious cycle of endless reprisals between Christians and Moslems.

    The Indonesian people, however, just weren't going to buy into such a crude attempt to stir the national psyche into mass hysteria. Christian leaders counseled forgiveness; Moslem leaders joined their Christian brothers at prayers; and the normal raucous celebration of the final night of the Moslem fasting month set for December 26 was muted out of respect and mourning for those who had died and been injured on Christmas Eve. Christians even volunteered as civilian guards at mosques during the Lebaran period last Wednesday and Thursday to ensure their Moslem brothers might pray in peace.

    The bombs met to divide Indonesia's religious communities may have done just the opposite.

    In the past few days police have made a number of arrests, with intelligence and law enforcement officials claiming that the masterminds behind the bombings are known. The Indonesian's have a saying - "senjata makan tuan" or
    "to be devoured by your own weapon." Given the universal outrage felt by most Indonesian at the bombings on Christmas eve, once the bomb plotters names are made public, the instigators yet get a close up view of the rage and anger they tried to foster; this time directed at themselves.

    That is when a bomb becomes a boomerang.


    On the evening the bomb attacks were taking place in other cities of Indonesia, I felt a very rare compulsion to attend an evening Christmas service in Bali. As a result, I joined the very crowded congregation at the Catholic Church at the Puja Mandala complex near Nusa Dua. Happily, I can confirm that the thousands of tourists and locals gathering at churches across the island of Bali did so without incident.

    No doubt the "mad" bombers realized that their weak scenario of trying to put the Country's Moslem and Christian elements at each other throats through a series of retaliatory bombings had no currency whatsoever on this predominantly Bali-Hindu island.

    Bali remains safe for locals and visitors alike. Bali is indeed different.


    On December 18, the union representing the 319-room Kartika Plaza went on strike demanding increased transportation allowances and higher year-end bonus payments. If the Union's plan was to hold the hotel ransom with a sudden strike just before the busy holiday season, that plan may have badly backfired when the management of the hotel decided to close the property until further notice. The management relocated the guests in house, made alternate arrangements for the full house of bookings arriving over the next week and then informed they would be issuing announcements on the hotel's future on a "monthly basis."

    According to the well-informed Tourism & Business Strategic Communication Newsletter, the hotel, like many others in Indonesia, is technically insolvent with outstanding debts standing at US$ 23.9 million plus some $556,000 in unpaid interest.

    In a further move, the hotel's management has announced that the striking staff who failed to give the required 7 day's notice before launching a strike had already been stricken off the company's payroll and could, if they so choose, file claims in accordance with the legal procedures in place. The Union's announcement that they were now prepared to "talk" got little response from management, who advised that they were on holiday and would consider the hotel's future sometime after the New Year.

    Something about straw and a camel's back, here?

    Stay tuned for developments.


    The Indonesian Tourist Promotion Board (BPPI) has announced the second Nusantara Travel Mart will be held in April of 2001 in Jakarta.

    Well-known Jakarta travel personality, Ms. Elly Hutabarat, will serve as Chairwoman for the event that will concentrate on the promotion of travel to the domestic market sector. A consumers show, the Nusantara Travel Mart will
    be held at the Jakarta Convention Center from April 6-9 and has set a target of 250 exhibitors for the event.


    The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) is offering scholarships for the Executive Development Institute for Tourism (EDIT) program at the School of Travel Industry Management, University of Hawaii at Manoa. The intensive three-week program, to be held June 11-29, 2001, features lectures, class discussions, case studies, group presentations and field visits.

    Employees and owners of PATA-member companies and organizations are eligible
    to apply for the PATA scholarships, each worth US$2,100, which covers approximately half of the cost of the program. Three scholarships are sponsored by PATA, while the other two -- including the Jerome A. Keller Memorial Scholarship -- are offered through the PATA Foundation. The application deadline is March 15, 2001.

    For more information, visit the web site at For scholarship details, contact Mr. Tongchan "Aye" Srinava in Bangkok. Tel: (66-2) 658-2000. Fax: (66-2) 658-2010

    E-mail to [email protected]


    India's Oberoi Hotel Group is reportedly in discussions with the UNTAET forces currently running affairs in East Timor to build a 150-room 4 star hotel to accommodate U.N. officials and the trickle of tourist slowly returning to the former Indonesian province.

    Obstacles to the deal appear to be the difficulty of obtaining clear land title in East Timor and the United Nation's decision to impose a 30 percent tax rate on such businesses in the "new" East Timor. The new tax regime in East Timor will have affect from 01 January 2000 and has already reportedly caused the several foreign investment businesses in the province to close shop. Ironically, January 01 is operating as something of a "ground zero" with taxpayers also unable to claim losses suffered as the result of the violence surrounding the independence referendum.

    Which prompts us to ask: Will the next revolt in East Timor be a taxpayer's rebellion?


    A year-end report from the Indonesian Customs and Excise Department should serve as a source of comfort to those worried that your neighbors might be up to something illicit once the lights go off. The Director General for Customs and Excise, Mr. Purnama Agung, announced that over the past six months his officers at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta had managed to confiscate from arriving passengers a range of sexual aids and pornographic materials.

    In addition to a number of pornographic VCD's and videos, the custom's officers also managed to seize a total of 33 "devices" including exotica such as vibrators, male-member enlargers, dildos, plastic breasts and a life-sized inflatable doll. Considered the "importation of vice goods," such items are contraband in Indonesia

    Who'd have imagined that those customs declaration forms we all hate to fill out made for such interesting reading?

    Mr. Permana Agung also informed that during the last year Custom's officials at Jakarta's airport had confiscated some 4,500 Viagra Pills together with a host of other medications missing the required authorization of the Country' s Minister of Health.

    Green Lane for nothing to declare. Red Lane for items to declare. Blue lane for "hardened criminals"?


    In order to avoid the heavy traffic on Bali's roads on the day before the New Year, I left the car at home on December 31, and did my errands around town with the aide of local taxis.

    After discovering that I spoke the local "lingo," the two taxi drivers I engaged during the day did what taxi drivers seem to do everywhere in the world: they launched into a well-rehearsed speech on what's wrong with the world, politicians, the tax system, the traffic police, and the IMF.

    Who was I to disagree? Because the man doing the talking had my very life in his hands, I signaled approval, uttering loud "yah's," "betuls" and "setuju sekali's" at every pause in the drivers' monologues. " Absolutely. Whatever you say, just please keep your eyes on the road!"

    Hey, come to think of it, why aren't the taxi drivers the guys running the world anyway? They seem to have a vision and all the answers that our politicians are lacking.

    Now there's a sobering thought. Mind you, if the taxi drivers really did exchange places with the politicians, you'd have a hard time finding me using any kind of public transport.

    Have a happy 2001 and remember to keep your eyes on the road.

    Looks like that power base has just been eroded.

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