In It for Themselves
In Governor Pastika’s denunciations this week of the elements blocking his laudable poverty-reduction efforts, one of those harmful ingredients stood apart from the rest and its nature is deplorable.
The governor pointed to the rise in Bali’s tourism and the resultant high prices being experienced, as more and more tourists and increasing numbers of tourism workers shove up demand, with the various markets reacting by raising the costs of products and services. He said this was making ordinary items — basic foodstuffs — unaffordable for Bali’s approximately 183,000 who are on the breadline.
And he said that was driving social inequity that promised grave difficulties in the years ahead. But, crucially, while the governor said the government was aiming to try bring down prices amid the current tourism boom, he said anything he did to try lift people out of poverty in Bali was a battle because of regents across the island largely refusing to work with him.
This shocking declaration amounts to Balinese in high public office turning their backs on the people they were elected to serve – with, yes, wads of cash in effect paying for votes but euphemistically called “cigarette money” or something seemingly harmless (read: legal) along those donation lines.
We already know that Governor Pastika’s moratorium on tourism-accommodation development in the regencies has long since fallen on deaf ears as regents continue to issue permits for large-scale construction projects. This they are able to do due to regional autonomy provisions. But does it benefit the island as a whole or only one small part of it?
Similarly, when Governor Pastika tries to end poverty — the most demeaning existence for a human — on an island of riches, that he is repeatedly blocked by his fellow Balinese because they have their own, commercial, interests at heart is a travesty.
Pastika said it was “selfish egos, and also political interests” that were to blame for hampering his poverty-eradication programme. He’s right, but when corruption is so rampant and everyone, right down to the impoverished villagers themselves looking for an election-time handout, is in it for themselves, we must not be surprised at who we elect.