Damning Time Article Demonstrates Govt Failure: Pastika

Damning Time Article Demonstrates Govt Failure: Pastika


Bali Governor I Made Mangku Pastika has responded to an unflattering article about Bali in Time magazine by admitting that the provincial government had failed to maintain Bali’s image, while Culture and Tourism Minister Jero Wacik blamed the weather for the island’s problems.

The article, Holidays in Hell: Bali’s Ongoing Woes, lists a litany of woes caused by poorly regulated tourism development in Bali, from crumbling infrastructure and dirty beaches to an upsurge in violent crime targeting foreigners.

It said Bali was suffering from “uncollected trash, overflowing sewage-treatment plants and traffic so bad that parts of the island resemble Indonesia’s gridlocked capital Jakarta.”

Responding to the article, Pastika said it would be wrong for politicians and tourism leaders in Bali to take a defensive approach.

“What are we supposed to do if the facts are undeniably like that?” he said.

“We’re judged by other people, not by ourselves, and clearly there has been a failure on the part of the Bali provincial government in maintaining the image of tourism and providing comfortable facilities.”

The article mentioned Pastika’s recent moratorium on new hotel developments in southern Bali, but expressed scepticism over the effectiveness of such a move.

Pastika said that claims that the article was a deliberate attempt to discredit Bali were unfounded.

“There’s no need to say prejudicial things like that. Time magazine is a credible media, read by people all over the world,” he said, adding that a more positive response would be to take swift action to address the problems listed in the article.

Pastika said that in many places Bali was indeed dirty and congested, and he did not contest the article’s description of “dunes of surf-tossed garbage” on Kuta Beach.

“We also need to change the mind-set of society when it comes to just throwing litter all over the place,” he said.

Pastika admitted that such high-profile negative coverage would have an impact on Bali, but said that he had coordinated with the Bali Tourism Board to seek long- and short-term solutions to the problems. He called on all parties to work hard to restore Bali’s image.

“If we want Bali to be known as a paradise island, it needs to be like paradise. That’s a goal we all need to work on together,” he said.

In Jakarta, meanwhile, Minister Wacik said high winds rather than poor governance were responsible for Bali’s dirty beaches, claiming that litter was blown onshore from elsewhere. He dismissed the Time article as an exaggeration.

“In the end the tourists will come back,” he said.

Bali Tourism Agency chief Ida Bagus Subhiksu up to 300 garbage trucks a day were needed to collect rubbish in the Kuta area.

“We are not closing our eyes. It’s true that we have a waste problem. In Kuta, there will be more garbage trucks designated for the area as extra funding for waste management there has been approved,” he said.

He added that much of the litter on the beaches came from islands outside Bali.

Visitor numbers to Bali are growing – 2.3 million foreign tourists came last year and 2.5 million are expected this year.


  1. Carol Fleming-Phillips says:

    Oh! dear! Minister Wacik how wrong you are.
    The rubbish is from locals and tourists alike,not from being washed up from other Islands.It is this exact mentality that has made Bali what it is today(not very attractive)As for the tourists coming back-wrong again.Any tourists I speak to are sick and tired of the garbage strewn all over the place,the endless traffic congestion( getting worse)pollution and poorly maintained roads.
    Why isn’t the Visa On Arrival(VOA) money put back into Bali’s roads etc??

  2. Mark Ulyseas says:

    Dear Editor,

    Here a letter which I do hope you will publish verbatim because this is the truth.

    An open letter to the Governor of Bali, I Made Mangku Pastika

    Om Swastiastu Bapak Pastika

    Wake up and smell the Kopi Bali

    Why is Bali, the island of the Gods, on sale?
    Why is it being desecrated by unbridled mindless development?

    Has Bali lost its way in the maze of international trade and commerce; Or has the ethics of a vibrant ethos been put on sale to the highest bidder/s ?

    Every sphere of is land life, including the environment, has been infiltrated and contaminated by the pawning of family heirlooms, all for a dollar. And in this disgraceful gold rush, the majority of ordinary Balinese have been ‘overlooked’.

    Here is a brief survey of Bali today.

    01. Education –
    School children must buy their textbooks from their teacher.
    There is no standardization of textbooks.
    In government schools tuition fees are waived for all students till Class 6. But the overheads like uniform books etc. have to be paid for.Many children drop out after Class 9 (on completing SMP) because their families cannot afford to pay the tuition fees etc. for Classes 10 onwards (SMA). One can see them working in warungs and other businesses at the bottom rung of the workforce.

    Unsubstantiated reports reveal that Bali has a shortfall of 9,000 teachers for the Balinese language and Hindu religion.

    02. Employment –
    The minimum wage is often not paid to thousands of Balinese workers. And interestingly the majority of their employers are ‘Indonesian’.

    Basic costs like the increase in price of cooking gas and food grains etc., has created a piquant situation whereby workers are now spending a higher percentage of their earnings on food; Added to this is the stark reality that the basic minimum wage (US$ 73.66 to 86.56) is not paid by many commercial establishments in Bali even though there is an existing Law. Many employers in the Tourist industry pay around US$ 40 – 60 and sometimes add ‘food’ as a perk.

    03. Health –
    Free health service is for a minority. Many Balinese on the lower rung of the ‘social’ ladder have to make do with the ‘local’ doctor. Clean drinking water and basic hygiene is lacking in many rural areas. This has resulted in skin diseases and even leprosy. Furthermore, the burgeoning tourist industry has directly contributed to the increase in HIV/AIDS on the island. In the documentary Cowboysinparadise unprotected sex appears to be the rule rather then the exception.

    The continuing Rabies problem that has killed over a hundred Balinese has yet to be brought under control.

    And latest reports reveal that Bird Flu is on its way back to haunt the island.

    04. Agriculture –
    Subsistence rice/other farmers are starving. Suicides are believed to be common. Their land is slowly being ‘sold/mortgaged’ for villas of vanity. And yet there is no one to help them. They pay water charges to the Subak Authority, the government taxes them and the Banjar takes a slice of the harvest. Who protects the farmer?

    05. Environment
    Garbage appears to be a problem. Media reports continue to spew out data of the seriousness of the problem including skin diseases, breathing problems, eye and stomach infections and contamination of food etc.

    The felling of trees has caused denudation resulting in the rise in surface temperature, depletion of natural water sources and contamination of underground water.

    Plastic and other waste are thrown into sacred rivers, into the sea and/or simply discarded by the roadside.

    The ubiquitous plastic bottle is now a tourist attraction.

    The Balinese have become so lazy that they don’t even remove the cellophane packing on sweets before offering the same to the Gods. In this way through religious acts tons of garbage is produced.

    All supermarkets and other outlets are promotional centers for the use of plastic bags.

    06. Yayasans
    Great business and an easy way to deflect cash to ‘other’ projects. Yayasans are proliferating in Bali like cancerous growths. Many have been set up merely to ‘earn’ money and not to provide charity service to the less fortunates. Who checks these NGOs and audits their accounts? Is there a Freedom of Information Act that helps a citizen to view their accounts and activities? Or, is this area (Yayasans) reserved for a privileged few who have the ‘right’ connections?

    07. Infrastructure
    Congratulations soon Bali will have another airport, rail system, a South-North highway…so even more tourists can travel comfortably across the isle. As for the Balinese, no problem they can give their under age children motorbikes to ride to school; many of whom die under the wheels of vehicles, but who cares? The dollar is most important not the lives and welfare of the citizens.

    08. Property Development
    The property market in Bali is infested with carpetbaggers who hawk land in Bali any which way. Their offices dot the isle like fleas on a dog’s back. They have seduced the Balinese with money and surreptitious deals which has resulted in unplanned, rampaging construction across the isle which interferes with the Subak system, does not adhere to the basic concepts of Asta Kosala Kosali (Balinese architectural code). More importantly the age old Balinese rule that did not allow any building to be built taller then the nearest coconut tree in the area has been dispensed with.

    Of course you are aware of the now defunct international hotel that was being built at Padangbai where the whole face of a seafront hill was cut away destroying the ecosystem in the area: and the new Korean project that appears to be coming up in Karangasem (part of the property is in a ‘protected green zone’) !

    The ownership of properties, the power of attorney and other twisted land deals are often given protection by Heads of the local community. So no ‘honest’ government officer dares ‘investigate’.

    09. Banjar/Desa Adat
    The Banjar system and the Desa Adat have failed miserably in containing the rapid dilution of Balinese culture. Very soon Balinese ceremonies will be reduced to theatricals devoid of any spirituality.

    The dollar has infiltrated Balinese communities where women vie with one another to spend enormous sums (often borrowed or obtained from sale of land) on offerings (with expensive imported fruit), costly kebayas; while children race around on new motorcycles and/or fiddle with the latest brand of handphone (they too need to keep up with their friends).

    The Balinese language as we know it is going out of fashion. It is not cool to speak Balinese. Bahasa Indonesian ‘jakarta’ street jargon is ‘in’.

    The Balinese ‘joint’ family compound/unit is being torn asunder by consumerism. Young married couples are now frequently setting up home away from these units. Apparently they want their privacy and do not want to share their personal wealth with the extended family.

    It is said that the Javanese sell Bakso to buy land and the Balinese sell land to buy Bakso.

    10. Hinduism
    Balinese Hinduism has survived the Dutch, Japanese, Sukarno, Suharto regimes and the horrible terrorists attacks. However, there appears to be an insidious attempt to ‘short circuit’ the Hindu ethos of the isle through the continued process of purchase of land by ‘other’ Indonesians who bring with them their own brand of Islam. The mushrooming of mosques in the West of Bali towards the North, Gilimanuk, the growing number of Muslims flooding the isle, many illegally working in Bali is cause for concern. Now I am not suggesting a communal approach but consider this – If the Balinese continue to be at the receiving end of tourism then the they will have to pay the price which is dilution of a culture, infiltration by non-Balinese into all aspects of life on the isle (if this has not happened already) and being relegated to second class citizens.

    And this can happen because Bali does not have a say in Jakarta.Electricity comes from Java.The Pornography Law of 2008 applies in Bali, too, in spite of the resistance put up by Bali’s politicians. And more importantly a large part of Bali’s revenue goes to Jakarta.

    The future existence of the vibrant ethos of Hindu Bali is at stake here and who will come forward to protect it?

    And will Bali continue to prostitute itself for the sake of the greater good of Indonesia?

    Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

  3. Tim says:

    I live in Bali and agree that litter and congestion around the tourist areas are problems but to compare Bali’s traffic to Jakarta is just nonsense.
    The issue is the concentration of tourism south of Denpasar ( Ubud excepted), spreading the ‘load’ to equally beautiful areas in the West, North and East(sensitively) is the way forward.
    New Airport in Singaraja for example!

  4. […] An open letter to the Governor of Bali, I Made Mangku Pastika […]

  5. isa says:

    oh minister wacik
    i woud like to say to you that the only way to stop the polluton issues and care of rubbish is to put monney on priorty issues
    fisrt collect the rubbish and organse recyclng
    make a law to ask shop and factory and supermaket stop using plastic bag like in other country make rules on that and education with children on biodegradble pastic or coton bag
    bali was the place of world awreness congress ? everybody forget it ??
    and to solve this issues of rubbish goverment could increase the Visa On Arrival the queston is where did this monney gone actually ?
    many tourist stay in expensive 5 stars hotels or villa
    tourist can pay more and whith this monney built recycling factory for rubish

  6. Derek says:

    The truth hurts, but brave are those who are ready to admit their faults and commit to change (no matter how difficult the process may be).

  7. Daphen Besson says:

    I too live most of the year in Bali, and I know there are many problems, like Mark mentioned above.
    It breaks my heart to see how Bali loses its authenticity, and suffers of all damage ‘progress’ brings along. It’s clear Bali is not prepaired to fight the plastic, and I see more and more cars coming to east Bali, where Bali still was ‘the real Bali’ not so long ago…
    progress is unstoppable, but it’s weird that in Bali I see a lot of ‘progress’ in material wealth, but the common people still live in poverty, and I mean real poverty … how is that possible?

  8. Paul (Jimbaran) says:

    Typical for the minister of tourism to blame it one something else, like the high winds. High winds have been here a lot longer than the trash problem.

  9. Paul (Jimbaran) says:

    should have said blame it on something else

  10. Olaf says:

    I live in Bali too and all what i see since im here … the island destroy them self 🙁
    No one in the tourism industry take care for for quality. Everybody is celebrating every month the growing number of visitors …. but no one is looking for the down going time where the guests stay on Bali: 2,3 days in the last year each guest ! That means some tourists stay longer here and a lot of them only one day …. why ?????

    Bali is a small island, it can only survive in the touristic world on a high class level. The island can not handle mass tourism ….
    Bali need to learn and to open the eyes for other influences. Also to articles like this in the TIMES … Thank you Mr. Pastika to understand how the writer mean this article. It can help Bali to learn from the mistakes, to grow on this mistakes.

    No, Mr. Wacik, the rubbish on the coasts from Bali is not coming from outside, it is original Balinese rubbish … of course the weather is a reason.
    Because every body, every region, every village is filling his river beds with rubbish …. in the dry season …. if the rain come, the rubbish is gone and every body is surprised if the sea bring it back to the sender …. But to deny any own fault make it much more easy to live with closed eyes, true but sad !
    Maybe a Newspaper from another country can help to wake up this island … together with Mr. Pastika !!
    God luck for all !!

  11. Rocco says:

    We have to admit that Bali is not so beautiful anymore and that’s not limited to the beaches. The practice of cut, fill and leave which scars the landscapes e.g. the huge undeveloped scar at Goa Gong visible from space and also the Padang Bai hillside previously mentioned. There are countless half finished buildings, devoid of the cash to finish the job, which ruin the look of Bali e.g. the huge ugly building half way up the Bukit. There should be a time limit on such things.
    BTW if you are reading this Governor, there is one way to stop corruption AND reduce the cost of a holiday here in Bali…DEREGULATE!!!

  12. Peter Hart / Singaraja / Sambangan /Banjar Anyar says:

    So …..

    We start today in Banjar Anyar ‘STOP PLASTIK’
    1. Stop burning plastik!
    2. Stop to pollute our river!
    ‘Gotong royong’

    Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om

  13. faith harper says:

    I live full time in Penestanan Kaja Ubud
    the neightbour oposite us burns plastic day and night. we wake up with headaches and burning in our lungs. This has been going on for more than 3 months. He started this burning 2 years ago and wanted 100,000r per day to stop. After my non burning neightbour sent someone who could of been a cop to warn the guy to stop he did and has now started up again. She no longer lives next door so cannot contact this cop.
    Its been reported to the Banjar of Sayan but nothing happens and on he goes. Does anyone know who I can report this to on the gianyar government level or if there is some law that prohibits this type of activity. For my money the burning of plastic is the number one health isssue in Bali and its about the only thing I dislike intensly on this island. Please help

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