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NEWS

ISSUE 55

LOMBOK WELCOMES 2010!

EMAAR DEAL OVER?

WHAT'S HOT

HUNDREDS PROTEST AT PLN OFFICE

DREAMS DO COME TRUE IN LOMBOK!

MR FIXER

LOCAL SCENE

LOMBOK DINES

INVESTORS ABANDON 18,600 HECTARES OF LAND

POLICE ARREST TWO IN THE MURDER OF JAPANESE WOMAN

NTB TO IMPOSE ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICE FEES

BALI TOURISM TO FOCUS ON KEY MARKETS

TAX REBATES FOR OVERSEAS VISITORS

MANAGING RUBBISH ON GILI TRAWANGAN

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LOMBOK WELCOMES 2010!

Welcome to The Lombok Guide – Lombok’s complete tourism paper and your guide to the best that the island has to offer. The Lombok Guide is published on Lombok every two weeks and contains valuable information for all visitors to our magical island.

What a great start to the New Year in Lombok it was! As we said goodbye to 2009 and welcomed in 2010, thousands of people flocked to the island to celebrate the start of a New Year with us. The streets of Senggigi were jammed from early evening until the next morning, as local crowds rubbed shoulders with partying tourists, grinning with delight and wishing each other a Happy New Year!

Out on the Gilis the story was the same, with Gili Trawangan booked solid weeks in advance. At midnight, the fireworks displays from Vila Ombak, The Beach House and Tir Na Nog were so bright they were visible from the mainland. Gili Air, basking in the popularity it has enjoyed in 2009, was partying up a storm on the lovely beaches, with all accommodation on that island fully booked. In Kuta, The Novotel lit up the south coast for its guests, with fireworks on the beach and a special bonfire on Kuta Hill to welcome in 2010!

And welcome it, we do! 2009 has been an excellent year in Lombok, with more tourists visiting our beautiful island than in many years. With a new airport due to open this year and a building boom sweeping the island, there’s every reason to expect a bumper year for Lombok in terms of tourism and investment. Oh well, we knew we couldn’t keep paradise a secret forever!

To find out more, pick up a copy of The Lombok Guide from the locations listed on page 44 or visit www.thelombokguide.com and discover the magic of Lombok for yourself… like thousands of others, you’ll be enchanted!

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EMAAR DEAL OVER?

As reported in issue 47 of The Lombok Guide, the Emaar Properties deal to develop a US $600 million mega-resort in the south of Lombok appears to be far from certain.

In June 2009, The Jakarta Globe leaked news that the Emaar deal was over, with Emaar closing its Jakarta office and withdrawing from Indonesia. The Globe quoted Elly Savitri, Emaar Indonesia’s human resources manager, as saying, “Emaar has pulled out of its operations in Indonesia because the government cannot comply with the terms of the agreement with our joint venture company”. The newspaper later retracted its story, but rumours persisted.

Last June, the Indonesian Government did extend the joint venture between Emaar and Bali Tourism Development Corp to develop the Lombok project by six months. This was the third and final extension of the agreement, which expired on 31 December, 2009.

The joint venture between Emaar and the state-owned Bali Tourism Development Corp (BTDC) envisioned development of 1,200 hectares along seven kilometres of natural beachfront that would have transformed Lombok’s Kuta and Tanjung Aan beaches over the next 12 years into a world-class resort and residential community consisting of 10,000 luxury villas, eight hotels and a world-class golf course.

Then, on 6 September 2009, a representative of PT Bali Tourism Development Corp was sent to Dubai to meet representatives of the Dubai-based Emaar Properties regarding the long-delayed development project for south Lombok.

“A representative of PT Bali Tourism Development will go to Dubai and talk to Emaar to push them to finalise the project,” said Badrul Munir, Vice Governor of West Nusa Tenggara. “Vice President Jusuf Kalla wants the matter resolved before October.”

On 8 September, The Jakarta Globe published an article titled “600m Lombok Resort Plan Remains on Vacation After Meeting” which said:

‘The stalled $600 million Lombok tourism mega-project is still on holiday after a meeting on Sunday in Dubai between PT Bali Tourism Development Corporation and developer, Emaar Properties, failed to settle anything.
“There was no definite decision of how to finalise the discussion into real action,” I Made Mandra, president director of BTDC, the state-owned company appointed by the government to partner with Dubai-based Emaar, said on Tuesday, 8 September.’

The project has been plagued by land-acquisition problems and disputes over the joint venture. Despite Emaar granting the government a third and final extension in mid-June – until the end of the year – to resolve the issues, no progress has been made in the six months since the “final” extension was signed.

The situation is not looking good for the South Lombok mega development and is perhaps influenced by the troubled Dubai company reporting large losses again this year, after suffering heavy losses in 2008.

Emaar Properties, the Middle East’s biggest listed property developer, reported huge losses for 2009, largely because of the company having to write down its complete book value of  its John Laing Homes division in the US, amounting to AED1,727 million (US $470 million), following the collapse of prices in the global recession.

At the beginning of December, 2009, The Jakarta Post published a story warning of more losses as Dubai World defaulted on trade debt. Global markets were sent tumbling after Dubai World, the conglomerate that has long been the chief engine behind Dubai’s explosive growth, announced in November that it needed at least a six-month reprieve from paying its debts.

Secretary to the Minister for State Enterprises, Said Didu, said that the Indonesian Ministry had warned state companies engaging in business operations in the region to watch out for developments in the Dubai World’s debt crisis and its impacts, before investing further. According to Said, several state construction companies, such as Adhi Karya, and Wijaya Karya, had been working on infrastructure projects there.

Adhi Karya, for instance, has just completed the construction of a 35-floor apartment at Al-Burj in Dubai, the world’s highest tower complex. It is aiming at several other projects in the region, including an Rp 1 trillion (US $106 million) project in Oman, in cooperation with a local company, Adhi Oman.

The paper went on to say, ‘The development of a resort project in Lombok, to be largely financed by Dubai-based real estate developer Emaar Properties, seems to have hit a snag with the Indonesian government now questioning the firm’s commitment to the project.

Emaar, a subsidiary of Dubai World, signed a joint venture agreement with the Bali Tourism Development Corporation in 2008, under which it is committed to investing $600 million to build a resort.
“So far Emaar, which has a 85 percent stake, has only financed $65 million from the $600 million committed to the resort. We ask them to be fair about stake ownerships,” deputy to the State Minister for State Enterprises for Logistics and Tourism, Harry Susetyo Nugroho, said on Monday, 1 December, 2009.’

So far there has been no news regarding the “final extension” issued by Emaar to the government, which expired on 31 December 2009. On 30 December, The Jakarta Globe reported that government officials appeared to be distancing themselves from the Emaar deal.

“It’s better to call Emaar directly, I’m sorry,” Alwi Shihab, the special Presidential envoy to the Middle East, told the paper when asked about the project’s future. Alwi has been at the helm of efforts to land the deal. Hilmi Gasim, Alwi’s assistant, said there was no agreement yet to extend the investment plan.

“Communication between Emaar and BTDC is still good. I think the plan could still go forward,” Hilmi said.
“We’re still waiting for certainty on Emaar’s investment,” said Eko Bambang Sutedjo, from the West Nusa Tengarra government.

Emaar declined to comment when contacted by The Jakarta Globe.

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Definitely not hot is the cancellation yet again of the Senggigi Fair, planned to take place in the Senggigi Square between Christmas and New Year. Regular readers may remember that we have published stories promoting the Fair for the past two issues, to encourage people to support the arts community of Lombok. Unfortunately, the planned performances were cancelled without notice by Pak Hajir of LPM (Lembaga Pemberdayaan Masyarakat), the local Institute of Community Empowerment. It’s been a poor year for the promotion of Lombok’s performing arts and cultural heritage…let’s hope the 2010 Senggigi Festival gets some professional management and organisation!

In the last issue, we mentioned the opening of a new café in Senggigi called Kayu Manis. Located just next to Senggigi Abadi Supermarket on the Senggigi main street, this open and airy café opened only a few weeks ago and has been earning rave reviews from Senggigi locals. We stopped in a few nights ago to see what all the fuss is about and now we understand! Owner Berry Hermanto, who divides his time between Lombok and Australia, has created a menu that is stunning in its simplicity and unbeatable for value. Dine on super fresh Fish and Chips or a Seafood Basket of prawns, squid rings and fish served with chips, for just Rp 30 000. Presentation is superb, with a delicious light mustard-based sauce swirled on the plates and sprigs of fresh herbs garnishing the dishes. Other choices include spaghetti, burgers, and schnitzel, each for just Rp 30 000. All are accompanied by a delightful fresh salad of lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and carrot, with pineapple, mango and avocado slices… one of the best we’ve tasted!

Equally tasty and good value are the Indonesian meals – Chicken Satay, Fried Rice or Noodles of various flavours, Cap Cay and Green Curries, served with rice, range from Rp 20 – 30 000 per serving. The Café is also open for breakfast and serves a healthy range of freshly blended juices, coffees, teas and cold Bintang. All food is prepared fresh upon ordering and, best of all, there’s no MSG used in any of the cooking! Warung prices and Square presentation… Kayu Manis is a winner!

Another new café just opened in the past couple of weeks is The Chapter. A big sign on the Café Alberto corner announces the opening, with the address as Jalan Raya Senggigi No 2… which may cause some confusion, with the eclectic street numbering system used in Indonesia. The Chapter is in fact on the side of Senggigi Plaza, on Jl Pantai Senggigi – the road leading down to the beach from the main street.

Between Christmas and New Year, the Gili Eco Trust held a free clinic on Gili T which focused on the welfare of horses, many of which are used for transport around the islands pulling horsecarts (cidomo). Working in collaboration with Umalas Stables in Bali, who provided the medicines, the Eco Trust held a 2 day clinic, to be repeated on 6 January for another 2 days.

Umalas Stables manager, Sabine, and staff together with Eco Trust manager Delphine, and staff from The Stud on Gili T, worked together in the village to teach the local people how to maintain their equipment, how to treat their horses for wounds and injuries, prevent worms, tooth care and filing, and other general health concerns for horses. More on important Eco Trust activities on page 65. www.giliecotrust.com

Up at the Holiday Resort in Mangsit, five minutes from Senggigi, we noticed a very nice looking lounge just off the reception area. The Cyber Lounge is open every day and has great deals for internet users, charging only Rp 25 000 for two hours of fast WiFi internet for guests who have their own laptops. Alternatively, the Resort has computers available for guests, with the internet rate of Rp 25 000 per hour including use of their computers. The lounge is cool and spacious and overlooks the pool and beach at the Resort, with comfortable lounges and table settings. Enjoy Happy Hour every day from 4 to 5pm at the Cyber Lounge, with 25% discount on all cool drinks, beers, cocktails and spirits (except premium brands). www.holidayresort-lombok.com

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HUNDREDS PROTEST AT PLN OFFICE

Hundreds of citizens from Mataram and surroundings have protested at the PLN (State Electricity Company) office in Mataram over recurring power blackouts across the island.

Hundreds of people gathered at the PLN offices on Monday, 17 December 2009, including members of the Indonesian Fishermen and Farmers Federation (FSNTBI). Joining them were members of the Coastal Area Community Alliance (AMAPI), the Transport and Transport Workers Labour Union (SB-Jatra), the Public Labour Association and more, who met with PLN Technical Manager, Akbar Ali, to protest about the scheduling of the power cuts every three days and damage to electrical equipment.

“How can we go forward and be prosperous if these electricity cuts continue?” asked FSNTBI Chief President, Muhammad Taufik.

Secretary General of SB-Jatra, Edi Irwanto, said that the protest action at the PLN NTB had several goals. One is that the PLN must replace or compensate consumers for damage to electrical appliances and equipment. Frequent power outages and the sudden re-supply of power has caused millions of rupiahs worth of damage to electrical appliances throughout the island. The instability of the supply, with wide variations in voltage output, also causes appliances to malfunction and burn out quickly.

Another target of the protest was to force the PLN not to be too strict in applying sanctions to people who are late paying their electricity bills. At present, if electricity accounts remain unpaid for three months, supply is immediately disconnected -- with the shortage of electricity supply available in Lombok making it difficult to get another connection. The group also demanded that supply of electricity is without discrimination or preferential treatment, as new connections are often based on an existing relationship with a PLN insider.

PLN Technical Manager, Akbar Ali, explained to the protestors that the Lombok power station is only producing 83 megawatts (MW) of power at present, whereas the peak load required during night hours is now 109 MW. Consequently, the supply is around 26 MW too low to meet demand.

To serve its 15 000 customers in Lombok, in November 2009 the PLN announced that it would rent four generators from the private sector capable of generating another 25 MW of electricity; starting in December 2009 with 10 MW, with another 5MW added in February 2010, and additional 5MW in both March and August 2010. The cost of renting the additional generators is estimated at Rp 2.452 billion (US $255,000) per megawatt per year, or a total of around Rp 61.32 billion (around US $6.5 million) a year.

PLN Lombok is awaiting the arrival of the first 10 MW generator, which was due for installation in December 2009.

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DREAMS DO COME TRUE IN LOMBOK!

Several years of holidaying in Lombok and a dream of creating a park estate where like-minded people could live, has led Dutch couple William and Nellie to move from their stable life in Holland to Lombok, where they are busily turning dreams into reality with the development of Dream Estate Park in Kerandangan Valley.

The village of Kerandangan has been popular with investors and expatriate residents for many years, as it is less than five minutes from central Senggigi and only minutes away from Kerandangan Beach, but is situated in a peaceful valley with picturesque views of the surrounding hills. There are already a number of large homes and several hotels in the valley, including Puri Mas Resort and Villa Campi Sorga, as well as the lovely Secret Garden residential estate.

Using the services of local architects and builders, William and Nellie have designed a residential park that integrates holiday homes and residential properties with the natural surroundings, preserving the coconut palms and green views that make the valley so attractive. The land stretches from the main street back to the border of Secret Garden, with road access to the rear blocks. One, two and three bedroom homes are set on varying sized blocks, with some featuring swimming pools in the centre. The homes have been designed to suit the outdoor lifestyle of Lombok and are cleverly positioned, with terraces angled for privacy so that none overlook each other.
Dream Estate, when complete, will incorporate holiday houses, residential homes, gardens and swimming pools, plus a Club House on the street front of the property with plans for a small restaurant, gym and other facilities for residents. While existing plans allow for up to twelve building sites, the developers are flexible and buyers have the option to purchase larger blocks of land and to build different styles of homes, depending on personal preferences.

A priority for William and Nellie has been making the properties affordable for ordinary people. Stage one, currently under construction, features four homes surrounding a central shared swimming pool. Each home has two bedrooms, a large living room with an adjoining small kitchen and breakfast bar, a separate bathroom and a spacious terrace for outdoor entertaining. Prices for the homes start at 37 500 Euro (around Rp 532 million) excluding tax. 

Dream Estate makes it easy for people wishing to buy a home in Lombok by offering affordable properties, and flexible land sizes and house design options. Perhaps most importantly, Dream Estate operates under a PMA company (foreign investment company) which allows foreigners to own property in Indonesia, so buyers have the security of purchasing their land under the umbrella of the company. Alternatively, buyers can also choose to purchase the land under a nominee or under Hak Milik (private ownership) title if they hold Indonesian citizenship. For more information, contact Dream Estate on 692 033.

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(Your personal building problems answered)

QUESTION: I am a blonde-haired blue-eyed fun-loving beach babe from South Australia and love surfing in Lombok. The waves here are excellent and the local surfer guys aren’t bad either! Just the other day I met a really great guy. He is really good looking with his long black curly hair, his natural tan and six pack to match. During a conversation with him, he mentioned that he was into other kinds of water sports including indoor ones. What does he mean? Does he have a Jacuzzi? I’m afraid to ask.

MR FIXER: Well hello, Blondie! Surfing here in Lombok is really taking off and can only get more popular, especially as two new surf shops have opened up just recently to cater for the latest influx of surfing tourists. There are also many other water sports on offer in Senggigi. Try the banana boat ride from Flicker Water Sports or a parasail from the same place. As far as indoor water sports go, I’m as lost as you are. If you do decide to give it a go, take a rubber sheet with you just in case.

QUESTION: During a recent power cut (which happens all too frequently here in Lombok) my wife of 47 years became unusually amorous. She has hardly touched me in years! As there was nothing else to do in the dark, it seemed like a good idea at the time. It was quite exciting. My wife said she felt like a teenager again. As I couldn’t find a teenager at such short notice, especially in the dark, I suggested she start and I would join in later. This small talk seemed to turn her on and she later confessed I looked like a 23 year old in the dark. As we come from Europe, we are not used to such frequent power cuts. Do you recommend we buy a generator?

MR FIXER: You must be joking! Why fix it if it’s not broken?! If you do insist on buying a generator, there are many choices here in Lombok.  A 2 KVA petrol or “bensin” generator is probably the most popular. They are easy to start and move about and only cost about Rp 2 million, (EUR150 in real money). The next sensible step up, if 2 KVA is not sufficient, is a diesel or “solar” generator, or “genset” as they insist on calling it here.  These are usually key start and they need to be. They are as heavy as a small car and are rated at 5.5 KVA. Prices for these generators start at around Rp 10 million.

Watch out if you buy any generator. Make sure the battery acid is filled to the correct level and the idiots in the shops don’t overfill the oil in the sump. They think that if they fill it to the top they are doing you a favor. They are not. Overfilling the oil is one of the most common causes of malfunction. Too much oil is just as bad as not enough. You can even get a genset with an automatic starter from Superstore in Cakra, just by the main roundabout. Ask for a “General” and tell them I sent you. On the other hand, you could sabotage your own generator by overfilling it with oil and watch your love life improve no end!

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LOCAL SCENE

NEW YEAR @ HAPPY CAFE

Thousands of people flocked to Senggigi to celebrate the New Year.
We capture the crowd at popular nightspot, Happy Café

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THE BEACH CLUB… MORE THAN JUST A BAR

Since Australian owners Glenn and Deidre purchased The Beach Club in 2006, the bar has been a hit with both local residents and tourists. Located on a nice stretch of beach, just before Café Alberto in Batu Bolong, the once-dingy bar has been transformed over the years into a bright and friendly place to hang out. There are cool areas for lounging on the beachfront, tables and chairs for sitting and taking in the beach views, berugaks (bales) filled with comfortable cushions and, of course, the bar itself which provides many patrons with a chance to chat to other regulars and watch popular sports and other programmes on the big screen TV.

The menu has also steadily transformed over the years and the café serves up a variety of tasty meals that perfectly suit the environment and the people who come here. One of the things we particularly like is the policy of all day breakfast and we’re sure it’s popular with guests staying in the pretty thatched bungalows at The Beach Club, too. Finding a good breakfast in Senggigi is becoming increasingly difficult, so it’s nice to find a place that serves up bacon and eggs at all hours of the day and knows how to do it properly! Soft poached eggs come exactly as requested, and the bacon is the real thing, not that nasty fatty beef substitute. Eggs can be cooked any style and are served with bacon, fried tomatoes, toast, butter and jam -- it’s a good value start to the day at Rp 35 000.

The Beach Club is also one of the few places serving roast chicken, rather than the usual fried ayam goreng (although that is available too, served in the local style with rice and spicy sambal for Rp 30 000). Whole large and juicy roast chickens, with garlic stuffing and gravy, are available for takeaway for Rp 55 000 each, or on the menu as quarter or half sized portions, served with gravy and chips, and make a tasty meal at any time of the day.
The fish and chips, with strips of crispy battered fish, served with fries and fresh salad for Rp 40 000 is another popular dish for lunch, as is the Beef Hamburger with cheese, salad and chips at Rp 50 000.  Other popular dishes include New Zealand or Australian steaks, served with mashed potato or fries; sausages and mash served with gravy; or the delicious Fijian Chicken Curry cooked in coconut cream at Rp 45 000.

Being Australian owned, it wouldn’t be right if the café didn’t serve that staple of the Australian diet – Aussie pies! Traditional Beef, Black Pepper, Guinness and Beef, and Potato Pies are all on offer, as well as Chicken Pies, Vegetable or Meat Pasties and Quiche Lorraine. These crispy pastries wrapped around delicious fillings, eaten with a cold beer while looking out over the ocean and catching the sea breezes are an essential of the Aussie lifestyle and suit the climate here as well.

At any time of the day, you’ll find people sitting at the bar talking and watching TV, lounging on the big pavilion overlooking the beach, playing pool next to the fish pond and sitting at the tables, just taking in the view and the atmosphere. It’s the kind of place where you drop in for a drink on the way home and end up staying for dinner. The staff is friendly and service is casual but efficient; the prices are good and, perhaps because of the hands-on training of the owners, the food is authentic, tasty and wholesome.

As the trend in town turns to more sophisticated and expensive dining, no doubt The Beach Club will remain popular for doing just what it does so well… providing a comfortable and relaxing place to hang out, with no pretensions and an appreciation for the simple pleasures of relaxing at the beach!

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INVESTORS ABANDON 18,600 HECTARES OF LAND

The West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) National Land Agency (BPN) has cautioned at least 118 investors who have failed to make use of tens of thousands of hectares of land at their disposal in the province.

The investors, who have been issued with HGU (Business Use) commercial operation permits, have failed to develop a total of 18,600 hectares of land located on Lombok and Sumbawa islands in NTB.

“Despite the potential, the land has been neglected for up to 15 years after the issuance of HGU permits. We have reminded 118 investors,” said NTB BPN office head, Gusmin Tuarita, in Mataram on 23 November 2009.

According to Pak Tuarita, his office identified the 118 investors when it was identifying “noncompliant investors” between 2005 and 2009. Most have held HGU permits since 1998, when the tourism sector in NTB was flourishing.

“There were 15 tourism development potential areas in the 1990’s -- nine of which were in Lombok and six on Sumbawa -- where the investors had been provided with HGU permits, but they have failed to set up business and have neglected the areas until now,” he said.

The HGU permits had been issued for the development of agriculture, livestock and plantation ventures, in addition to tourism.

Gusmin said that based on the identification process, investors who had failed to develop their land were generally those who had used their HGU certificates as collateral for bank loans. They eventually shelved plans to set up businesses on the plots of land and neglected them, he added.

“If they had actually set up their businesses, they would definitely have had a positive impact on the province, especially in absorbing the local workforce,” he said. “But unfortunately, they abandoned the land and used the HGU permits as collateral for bank loans,”

The BPN, however, felt confused in addressing the issue, such as imposing sanctions against the recalcitrant investors because according to regulations, the BPN could only issue warning letters up to three times. If they ignore the warnings, BPN can only suggest that they transfer their HGU permits to other investors with compensation. The warning phase is also lengthy, starting from the issuance of a proposal from the Regency or municipality level of BPN, then the provincial BPN and later the BPN headquarters.

“We cannot immediately revoke their permits. The warning letters are valid for a year, so three warning letters will take three years to conclude,” Gusmin said.

In an effort to address the issue, Gusmin said the NTB BPN was currently making efforts to offer the neglected land to other investors who were interested and really wanted to invest in NTB. The NTB BPN will facilitate the transfer of HGU permits from the old to the new investors.

Gusmin said BPN was also formulating a new regulation on sanctions to impose against recalcitrant investors, such as reducing the warning period from a year to a month.

“The third warning could be handed out in three months, and this would be more effective.”
Gusmin cited as an example one of the 118 investors who neglected their land in Gili Trawangan Island, in northern Lombok.

“Now the company wants to build a resort area but the land has been occupied by local residents. The company has had a land use certificate since 1998 but they neglected their land,” he said. “The longer they neglected the land, the more they suffered losses.”

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POLICE ARREST TWO IN THE MURDER OF JAPANESE WOMAN

As reported by balidiscovery.com, a Japanese woman was brutally murdered in Bali on Saturday, 26 December, 2009.

Less than a week after the crime, Bali police have identified and arrested two men for the murder of Hiromi Shimada (41), but authorities are still trying to identify the motive for the crime.

According to Kompas.com, the Head of the Denpasar Police, Alit Widana, says that the police held strong evidence linking the men arrested to the murder. Widana said the men arrested knew the Japanese woman and she was killed for personal reasons.

In a separate report in Bertitabali.com, the two men identified as having murdered and raped the woman are two construction workers from Java, Mawaradi, also known as Anto, and Abdurahman, also known as Abdu. The men have reportedly already admitted to the police that the murder took place after a drinking session with the deceased woman and was precipitated by her refusal to have sex with the men.

Anto was arrested at his residence in Kuta while police arrested Abdu in his hometown of Jember in East Java. Police have entered into evidence a knife used in the murder, clothing, cable used to bind the victim, jewellery, the victim's passport, ATM card and wallet.

An autopsy on the woman’s body performed at Bali’s Sanglah General Hospital confirmed that she had been stabbed 25 times and bled to death from 6 stab wounds to her stomach.

Hiromi had spent the last 10 years traveling back and forth between Bali and Japan. She had married and divorced Indonesian men twice during that period, giving birth to a child who now lives with her first husband.

At the time of the fatal assault, Hiromi was living alone in cheap rented accommodation in Kuta. According to various reports, the Japanese woman enjoyed a partying life-style marked by bouts of drinking. Her means of support were reportedly monthly remittances of between Rp 15-20 million (US $1,500 – US $2,000) sent by a relative in Japan. At the time of the death, she was awaiting deportation by immigration authorities scheduled for 19 January, 2010, for having overstayed her visa.

Following her death, police interviewed more than 20 persons of interest before making the arrest of the two men.

In September 2009, another Japanese woman, Rika Sono (30), was murdered in Kuta leading to the arrest of a man who has confessed to killing her in a robbery attempt while posing as a policeman.

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NTB TO IMPOSE ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICE FEES

The PDAM Menang-Mataram (state water company) in West Nusa Tenggara (Lombok and Sumbawa) has announced that it will impose “environmental service fees” for the maintenance of its infrastructure.
The fees range from Rp 1,000 (about 10 US cents) and Rp 2,000 to Rp 59,000 and will appear on customers’ monthly bills starting from December, 2009.

The additional Rp 60 million per month in expected revenue from these fees will be spent on maintaining and restoring PDAM Menang-Mataram’s water resources in the Sesaot forest in Narmada district, West Lombok.
Apart from maintenance, the additional revenue will also be used for economic empowerment programs in the three surrounding villages of Sesaot, Batu Mekar and Sedau villages.

West Lombok Regent, Zaini Arony, told The Jakarta Post recently that the environmental service fees imposed on PDAM customers was part of the company’s move to implement a 2007 bylaw on environmental service management.

“We began implementing the ordinance after two years of conducting public awareness campaigns. We will begin impose the fees on PDAM Menang-Mataram customers starting in December,” he said.

Zaini added that the concept was initiated with help from environmental groups, including the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the private sector, academics and the Regency administration. Zaini said it was also aimed at redressing environmental management imbalances between upstream communities, where the reservoirs are located, and downstream end-users.

Currently, many water reservoirs in Lombok are depleted because of environmental damage, specifically deforestation. Through the environmental service fees, the local administration hopes to encourage upstream communities to protect the environment.

“Downstream urban end-users who benefit from the water supply will effectively subsidise those communities upstream through the environmental service fees, because clearly, poverty is the reason most the people start to clear forests. It’s not fair to ask upstream communities to protect the forest and water resources and yet not reward their efforts,” he said.  

He added the collected fees would be managed by the Multi Stakeholders Institution (IMP), comprised of representatives from the West Lombok administration, environmental groups and the public. West Lombok is the first Regency to issue and enforce the environmental service fees bylaw.

“The program will also receive funds of Rp 1.3 billion from the UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), which will be used to boost rural empowerment of communities living in and around the forest,” he said.

West Lombok IMP cooperation affairs coordinator, I Wayan Sugiartha, said PDAM Menang-Mataram currently served 98,000 customers in West Lombok and Mataram city. However, it has imposed the fees on 59,000 household and business customers, while exempting public institutions such as community health centres, places of worship and orphanages from paying the fees.

“Low-income families are also exempt from paying, so only around 59,000 customers will pay the fees. Each household will be charged Rp 1,000 and each business Rp 2,000 on their monthly bills. We have informed PDAM customers of this,” Sugiartha said.

The usage of the funds will be reported back to PDAM customers every time they pay their monthly bills.
In line with the 2007 bylaw, 75 percent of the total funds collected will be used for restoration of water resources, reforestation and improving people’s welfare, while the remaining 25 percent will be used for IMP operations, such as counselling, monitoring and programme evaluation.

Sugiartha said IMP had formed 10 empowered groups in three villages in Sesaot, Sedau and Batu Mekar villages. He said the empowered communities would protect the restored water resources and reforested areas, and would also be provided with assistance for economic empowerment. The environmental service fees collected in December will be used to plant 4,000 tree seedlings in a 6-hectare area of the Sesaot forest area at the end of the month.

West Lombok IMP has set itself a target to restore 550 hectares, equivalent to planting 220,000 trees, and also provide Rp 480 million to improve the local community’s economic development by 2013 through the environmental service scheme. IMP is also making efforts to encourage the private sector to be involved in the environmental service scheme, especially West Lombok bottled water producers who use the water resources in the Regency’s forested areas.

However, the action has provoked disbelief from some Environmental Engineers who say that increased vegetation will not increase water in downstream areas and that the extra funds generated by this tax will be swallowed by bureaucracy and “administration”.

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BALI TOURISM TO FOCUS ON KEY MARKETS

The Bali Tourism Authority (BTA) has announced that it will continue to promote in key potential markets, such as Australia and Japan. Australia and Japan continued to be the main source markets for Bali tourism in 2009, with Australia displacing Japan as the top earning country for visitors.
Beritabali.com quotes the Head of the BTA, Ida Bagus Subhisku, as saying the demand for Bali among Japanese and Australian tourists remains high, with many travellers from these markets yet to discover Bali for the first time.
“Many Australians and Japanese do not know Bali, prompting us to promote in these two countries. This is also the case for Europe. Asia and China are also quote promising,” said Subhisku

Within ASEAN markets, Subhisku sees Malaysia as the country with the most potential for visitors, with Malaysian nationals now holding fourth place among all foreign visitors to Bali.

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TAX REBATES FOR OVERSEAS VISITORS

The Indonesian government will introduce tax incentives for international tourists and visitors to Indonesia, effective from 1 April, 2010.

To be put into operation at a number of Indonesia’s international airports including Ngurah Rai airport in Bali, the incentives will offer cash refunds for tax expenditures by tourists against certain pre-set limits, similar to sales tax rebates offered in Singapore.

Quoted in BisnisBali, the Head of the Sub-Directorate for the Regulation of Taxes, Estu Yoga Saksama, said he hoped the new programme would be in operation by 1 April, 2010, and that it would help increase tourism flows to Indonesia.

Foreign passport holders purchasing items during their visit to Indonesia can obtain a tax-refund on PPN (VAT or sales tax) providing the merchandise is exported out of Indonesia, the value of the purchase(s) exceed Rp 500,000 (US $50) and the purchase was made within a period of one month of their departure date.

Rebates will be processed at special counters prepared at major international airports and operated by the tax department.

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MANAGING RUBBISH ON GILI TRAWANGAN

The Gili Eco Trust has had a busy year in 2009 and has plans to expand even further in 2010 with a number of programmes planned to improve conditions on the Gili Islands.

The Gili Eco Trust was formed in 2002 to work in coordination with SATGAS (the Gili Islands local administration) for the conservation and protection of the waters in Gili Matra, (the Marine Protected Area of the Gili Islands). The Eco Trust is funded by divers and snorkellers, with a reef tax collected from guests by dive operators and paid monthly to the Eco Trust. Other funding for specific projects comes from businesses on the Gilis and from donations from visitors.

In 2010 The Eco Trust plans to open membership to other businesses and residents rather than only dive shops. This new system will allow the Gili Eco Trust to focus on more eco-projects for Gili Trawangan and involve the whole community in projects to better the island.

A major focus of the Trust during 2010 will be the management of rubbish and waste on Gili T. During high season and peak tourist times, up to 10 tonnes of rubbish is produced on Gili T alone in a single day. Much of this waste is burnt by locals, with plastics and other rubbish releasing dangerous chemicals into the environment. Many Indonesians don’t understand what plastic bags and bottles are made from, or some believe they are made from a type of wood, so it is natural for them to follow their traditional practice of burning rubbish. In the past, most waste in Lombok was organic but, with the advent of plastics and other non-organic products, the need for education of the local people is vital.

Working together with the FMPL (the local organisation which collects rubbish on the island), the Gili Eco Trust is working on programmes to sort rubbish into organic and non-organic waste, to develop recycling programmes where appropriate, and to educate the local people in awareness and rubbish management.

The existing rubbish dump on Gili Trawangan is being renovated, with better road access for horse carts delivering rubbish being built and sorting areas being created to enable waste to be recycled. The Trust is currently looking into factories or industries from Lombok which will accept papers, plastic products, metals, etc., to recycle. Thanks to the Trust’s efforts, many businesses on Gili T are already sorting their rubbish into recyclable and non-recyclable waste and local people are now collecting bottles and cans and selling them to businesses on Lombok, who then send the products to Surabaya to be recycled.

The next step is to hold workshops to teach local people and staff how to sort their rubbish. Many people don’t yet understand the difference between organic and non-organic waste and are unable to tell if a tea bag is organic or not, so education is the key to success for the project. The Trust will undertake training programmes so that everyone on the island is informed and involved in rubbish management.

Once trained, businesses and local people will be encouraged to set up composting heaps on the island to turn their organic waste into fertiliser -- providing much needed nutrients to the island’s sandy soil. Several businesses have already set up compost heaps for their organic waste, including Trawangan Dive, Big Bubble, Karma Kayak and Eco Villa. It makes sense for businesses operating a kitchen and restaurant to compost their waste and reuse it to fertilise their gardens; perhaps even establishing organic vegetable gardens to supply their restaurants. A compost centre will also be established at the rubbish dump and be managed by local people, who can then sell the compost fertiliser and generate additional income.

At present, the Eco Trust has negotiated with local manufacturer Maspion to make rubbish bins that meet the requirements of the project. It is estimated that at least 1600 bins are needed, with 800 locations and two bins needed for sorting organic and non-organic waste. Maspion have agreed to produce the bins, with a minimum order of 1000, so the Trust is seeking sponsorship from Coca Cola and other local companies. You can help support this project with donations both to purchase the bins and to fund the local training programmes.
The Trust also hopes to ban plastic bags on the island and replace plastic bags with “Eco Bags”. Made from recycled plastic and cotton, these bags are available by donation from the Trust.

Recently, the Trust met with accommodation businesses on the island and proposed the collection of Rp 50 000 “bungalow tax” to be paid by guests staying on the island. Proceeds from the tax will be used to fund ongoing waste management, rubbish recycling, and education programmes on the island. So far, around 30 businesses have joined the programme. Guests paying the tax will receive an Eco Bag to be used instead of plastic bags during their stay.

Small islands have limited resources and the Gili Eco Trust is setting programmes in place now to support the viability of the Gilis into the future. If you can help with donations to fund Eco Trust projects, please contact: Delphine Robbe, Gili Eco Trust Manager, on +62 (0) 813 3960 0553 or the local SATGAS Organisation: Rais on 0812 376 3491 or Usman on 0856 4696 4612 or visit them on the web: www.giliecotrust.com

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