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NEWS

ISSUE 71

AUGUST IN LOMBOK!

LOCAL AIRLINES MUST BE ACCOUNTABLE

GREEN HOTELS

WHAT'S HOT!

YOUR SAY (NEW COLUMN)

LOCAL SCENE

MR FIXER

LA NINA AFFECTS OUR WEATHER

BALI GOES SMOKE-FREE

RABIES CONFIRMED IN BALI'S CATTLE AND PIG STOCKS

ABU BAKAR BA’ASYIR ARRESTED FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITIES

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AUGUST IN LOMBOK!

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.

August has been a busy month so far in Lombok. We are in the middle of our “high season” and the island’s hotels are enjoying high occupancy rates. Despite also being the fasting month of Ramadan, restaurants and bars in the tourist areas are filled with holiday makers enjoying the sunshine and perfect beaches of Lombok.

While Bali is bursting at the seams with tourists, many travellers are discovering Lombok as a more attractive alternative, with better beaches, unspoiled natural scenery and all the facilities of a world-class tropical resort -- without the crowds and traffic problems of the “Navel of the World”.

To find out more, pick up a copy of The Lombok Guide from the locations listed on http://www.thelombokguide.com/deadline_publishing.html 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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LOCAL AIRLINES MUST BE ACCOUNTABLE

On 26 September 2008, new regulations for the air transport industry were announced in Indonesia. Yet, in almost 2 years, we have seen no changes to the way local airlines function, particularly Merpati Airlines and Trans Nusa Air, which operate the majority of flights between Bali and Lombok.

The two airlines have a disastrous reputation for frequent delays, over-booking and cancellation of flights. Delayed departures occur almost daily, with travellers commonly stranded at either Bali or Lombok airports for hours waiting for flights.

Information and customer service from airline staff are almost non existent and there seems to be no accountability by the airlines, despite the fact that regulations do exist to protect consumer’s rights.
The air transport industry regulations state that airlines who cancel or delay flights from Mataram’s Selaparang Airport must give passengers compensation, in accordance with the length of the delay. 

Under the regulations, if the airline’s departure is postponed 30 - 90 minutes from the scheduled departure, the airline must provide refreshments to passengers. Passengers delayed by 90 - 180 minutes must be given a meal and an alternative flight. For delays of more than 180 minutes, passengers must be given accommodation, rescheduled flights or a refund of their money.

At the time the regulation was introduced, the Transportation Ministry’s Director General, Budhi Mulyawan Suyitno, said the regulation was aimed at disciplining airlines to meet their schedules. Budhi said that all delays and failures to provide compensation would be recorded and affect the airlines’ quarterly assessment by the Ministry.
Although these regulations exist, most people are unaware of their rights. Perhaps if the travelling public were to demand that their rights are met and that the regulations are followed by local airlines, those airlines would be forced to improve their services.

The Lombok Guide interviewed Pak Agus Adi Pratomo, Selaparang Airport Duty Manager, last week to see how these airlines could be made more accountable and what passengers can do if they are inconvenienced by delays and cancellations of flights.

Pak Agus confirmed that the situation with local airlines was frustrating for the airport authorities, who have been pushing airlines to comply with regulations for the past two years. To date, only Garuda and Lion Air were operating professionally, he said.

He recommends that passengers do complain, as this is the only way to force airlines to comply with regulations and to change their poor quality of service. Passengers who are inconvenienced by delays should complain directly to the airline and demand relevant compensation. Offices for each airline are located at the airport.

If the problem is not resolved by the airline, passengers should ask airport staff to direct them to the ADM (Airport Duty Manager), who is on duty 24 hours a day. Please remember that, although you may be angry or frustrated by the airlines, the ADM is the airport authority; not the airline representative. A polite and courteous attitude will receive a helpful response, with the ADM assisting you in negotiating with the airline.

Alternatively, travellers can register their complaint by telephone or sms on (0370) 666 0244 (Indonesian and English languages). This number is always diverted to the ADM, so that they know the complaint has been made and the information can be recorded.

All complaints are registered and reported to the Ministry of Transportation, which is responsible for airline registration and licences. Complaints can also be registered on the Ministry’s website at www.dephub.go.id (English version available).

Travellers experiencing delays, poor service and cancellations are encouraged to voice their complaints and demand compensation; this seems to be the only way to force a much-needed change in the way our local airlines operate.

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GREEN HOTELS

The Jakarta Globe reports that 28 hotels in Bali and Lombok have volunteered to undergo environmental audits by Indonesia's environment ministry.

The 18 star-rated hotels in Bali and 10 in Lombok are a small minority of the 157 star-rated hotels in Bali and 2 000 more inns, home stays and villas operating in Bali. According to Raden Sudirman, head of an inter-provincial environmental task force, “These were the only establishments environmentally conscientious enough to submit to the assessment.”

Environmental audits are also regularly conducted at Indonesian mining firms, manufacturing facilities and forestry companies.

Sudirman said that in the future assessments and audits would become obligatory for all hotels and would encompass waste disposal, soil and water management, and corporate social responsibility programs.
Once the assessment is completed, companies will receive a color coding ranging from “gold” for excellence to “black” for poor environmental practice. Companies receiving two “black” ratings will face severe sanctions from the government.

Perry Markus, representing the Bali chapter of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), said he supported obligatory assessment as a means of boosting Bali's desire to adopt good environmental practice.

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• The eagerly awaited movie version of “Eat, Pray, Love”, based on the bestseller book by Elizabeth Gilbert, was released in the US this month and will open the list of distinguished films to be shown at the BALINALE 2010 International Film Festival held in Bali from 12 – 17 October 2010.

The movie stars Julia Roberts and one of Indonesia’s leading film actresses and BALINALE co-founder Christine Hakim as traditional healer, Wayan Nuriyasih; Anakia as her daughter; and Hadi Subiyanto, who was found during a nationwide casting search as “Ketut Liyer”, the medicine man. One third of “Eat, Pray, Love” was filmed in Bali and has already had a positive economical impact on the island and on Indonesia in general, anticipating an increased interest in the country as a filming destination. The small island of Gili Meno off the northwest coast of Lombok also features at the end of the book, as a special place for the heroine to escape to, and is expected to increase interest in Gili Meno, already known locally as a quiet and peaceful island retreat.

The 4th annual BALINALE promises to build on the great success of 2009 event and the record attendance numbers reached during the festival with its solid selection of 25 quality international and Indonesian feature films, documentaries and shorts from 12 countries. Contact Inneke Indriyani, Festival Manager, for details: +62 (0) 361 270 908 or fax +62 (0)361 286 425.

• Due to a very busy high season and unprecedented number of bookings, Island Getaway has restructured and is now running all administration and bookings from their Gili Trawangan office. The fast boat is a quick and easy alternative to flying between Bali and Lombok, with convenient transfers between the two islands daily. Island Getaway departs Bali at approx. 8am from Benoa Harbour and departs Gili Trawangan at approx 11am every day. Lombok mainland transfers are also available, to or from Teluk Kodek (approx 30 minutes drive north of Senggigi). The fast boat operator can also arrange Gili Air and Gili Meno transfers on request. Island Getaway is also the only fast boat operator that accepts bookings up until 11pm at night. Ph: 0361 762 604 or email islandgetaway@ozemail.com.au

Vila Ombak, the largest resort on Gili Trawangan, continually evolves and keeps getting better all the time! After major remodelling last year which involved the construction of additional family bungalows, a shopping arcade and revamped restaurants, the fabulous resort has now added spacious decking to their beachfront area. This provides a cool and shady place during the day for guests to enjoy a drink from the Blue Bar or delicious meals from the Resort’s restaurants, all only steps away from the sparkling ocean. At night, diners can enjoy a seafood barbecue or other tasty meals in comfort, whether it is raining or shining. Judging by the numbers of people taking advantage of the deck when we visited last week, bookings are recommended! www.hotelombak.com

Royal Spa, the popular massage and beauty treatment spots in Senggigi and Mataram, have a great special running during the month of Ramadan. Try any of the relaxing treatments between 10am and 4pm every day and receive 10% discount on the already low prices. As an extra bonus, Royal Spa members receive an extra 10% off, giving a 20% reward for member loyalty. Treatments include massages, reflexology, facials, “creambath” hair treatments and more, all in comfortable and clean surroundings! Ph: 693 645.

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Got something to say? We’re interested to hear your news and views! You must supply your name and address, but publication can be withheld on request. Email us now at kitadesign@hotmail.com

I saw your article in the last issue about the President coming to Lombok to say there would be no more electricity blackouts and had to laugh!

Does anyone really believe this rubbish? Maybe the President should have visited some of the hotels in Senggigi and asked them how often the power has been cut off since the PLN announced no more blackouts from 30 June!
One major hotel in Mangsit is still experiencing blackouts of up to 4 hours every couple of nights, and hotels in Senggigi are still having their power cut off several times a week. In the middle of high season, these hotels are forced to run expensive generators. The big hotels like the Sheraton, Holiday Resort and Santosa all pay in excess of 100 million a month in electricity bills, but still get lousy service from the PLN. Where is the support for tourism on this island? Why not turn the lights off in the Governor’s office?

Or maybe the President should take a trip out to the Gilis and spend the night in a small cottage without lights or a fan, because the place is too small to afford a generator and the government tells them the power cuts are over!
Instead of wasting time and money paying lip service to the President, the government should be putting the money into developing infrastructure and supporting the tourism industry here. Blackouts in the tourism areas should be an absolute last resort!

(Name and address supplied but withheld on request)

 

Thank you so much for running the article about The Berugaq Coffee House and Gallery and Yayasan Sopoq Angen in your last issue.  It is very well written and tells just what we are about. Thank you so much for taking the time to come and talk to our leadership. We look forward to working with you more in the future.

Barb Case, Global Development Association

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LOCAL SCENE

INDIA’S BIRTHDAY @ GREEN SCHOOL

Flying foxes, fun and games, a special magic show, party food and cake put a smile on kids’ faces at India’s birthday party!

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(Tongue-in-cheek answers to your personal building problems)

QUESTION: A few months ago, I came to the beautiful island of Lombok for rest and recuperation from the madness of European city life. I was beginning to lose my mind along with my hair, due to the pressure! I rented a pleasant villa with pool and sea view and met a nice local lady half my age. We have lots of fun together. We even go mountain bike riding, but the other day I fell off my bike and sprained my pump. Will this affect our relationship? 
I have been seeing her now for 9 weeks and today she told me she was pregnant. The doctors tell me that she is 10 weeks gone. They say that they calculate this from her last period. She is very good friends with the doctor and I am afraid to ask the big question: am I the father? Could you please help me with this question or direct me some place where I can find out?

MR FIXER: Medical doctors calculate the week of pregnancy from the first day of the last period. Thus, if your girlfriend’s last period started on 20th, for example, she would be considered to be 10 weeks pregnant on 29th of the following month. All this is in spite of the fact that most women ovulate somewhere around day number 14, counting the first day of the last period as day number one. Therefore, on the very first day a woman gets pregnant, she is considered to be already two weeks or so along. We have asked around the office for an opinion on this and we all agree that the doctor could be the father as she seems to know him so well. On the other hand, if you didn’t sprain your pump too badly, it could be you.

QUESTION: My name is Gusti Ngurah Alit from the north of Bali. I have come to Lombok to find cheap agricultural land and to escape the ridicule of being seduced by a cow into having sex with it. 

You may have read in another newspaper that I was caught by a neighbour in the rice paddy fields of Yeh Embang village in Jembrana. I was reported to have been standing naked holding the back of a cow by the village chief, Embang Ida Bagus Legawa. The truth is that the cow appeared to me as a beautiful woman. She called my name and seduced me, so I had sex with her. According to traditional law, I must now partake in a marriage ceremony with the cow to appease the female spirit that apparently possessed the cow.

I have heard that land in Lombok is much cheaper than land in Bali and I have also been told there are many cows here. Is this true?

MR FIXER: Yes, it is true! Land here in Lombok is a fraction of the cost of similar land in Bali. There are also many cows here. Most of them come from Australia and New Zealand, but I have seen a few from Holland and Russia. You can easily spot these, as they usually have much larger hind quarters and belch and fart a lot. Just the other day there was quite a commotion outside one of the local villages. When I enquired what all the fuss was about, I was told that several cows were wandering about lost. There was such a rush taking place, I can only assume that if you were not quick, all the good looking ones would have gone!

Got a question for Mr Fixer? He’s always got a quirky answer your personal building problems! Just email your problem to “Mr Fixer” at kitadesign@hotmail.com
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LA NINA AFFECTS OUR WEATHER

A report in Tempo Interactive says the lack of a “dry season”, now some two months overdue, is the result of the La Nina weather effect predicted to occur in the region after the El Nino phenomenon experienced at the end of last year.

The “rainy season” or monsoon season this year was very dry, with abnormally high temperatures and low rainfall, which affected hundreds of hectares of agricultural land across Lombok, leading to the current shortage of food crops.

La Nina is the result of warmer than normal sea surface temperatures that are 0.5 to 2 degrees Celsius higher than normal. These warmer temperatures create stronger flows of westerly winds across the Indonesian region.

High levels of condensed water in the upper atmosphere results, in turn, in more rains across the region.
National Meteorology experts say average rainfall from July to August has hit 50 mm per day. Citing July and August as “transitional months”, national weather forecasters are predicting that the rainy season may start in September, meaning Bali and Lombok will experience little of what could be described as a “dry season” in the current year.

The two islands usually experience little rainfall at this time but, this year, have had an unusually large amount of rain. Current rain patterns are also accompanied by unusually strong winds and occasional lightning storms.
In a separate but related report, scientists have warned that climate change and rising sea levels threaten dire consequence to Indonesia’s capital and the southernmost peninsula of the island of Bali.

Scientific projections say that the average 340 millimeters of rain that falls on Jakarta each year can be expected to increase by 20 millimeters every 5 years, according to Dr Armi Susandi, a climate change expert from Bandung’s Institute of Technology (ITB). Quoted in Republika.co.id, Susandi says the worst effect of the increased rainfall will be in the southern regions of the nation's capital, causing significant flooding in South and Central Jakarta after 2030.

Climate change will also bring dramatic changes to the island of Bali. Rising sea levels will cause Bali to become a smaller island, losing 8.6% (489 square kilometers) of its 5,632 square kilometer land mass to the sea by 2050. By 2070 the amount of submerged land will increase to 557 square kilometers.

Even more startling is the prediction that the lowlands that form the land bridge between Bali and its southern peninsula of Nusa Dua will succumb to rising seas, creating two separate islands. The experts also predict that much of the popular tourist areas of Kuta and Sanur will disappear below the sea.

Speaking at an induction ceremony for new students at ITB, Dr Susandi warned the young students: “Nusa Dua will become a separate island separated from Bali. So you best satisfy any desires to visit Kuta beach and Sanur beach now, before they sink below the sea.”

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BALI GOES SMOKE-FREE

Plans to create non-smoking zones in Bali are moving forward, according to a report in Radar Bali. To this end the provincial government is socialising the non-smoking zone law to regencies across Bali.

The new law calls for reprimands, strong sanctions, fines of tens of millions of rupiah and prison time for those convicted of smoking in public areas declared “off-limit” to smoking.

Section 19 of the new anti-smoking legislation requires building owners, building managers, managers and other responsible parties to outlaw smoking in public areas or face administrative sanctions and/or a maximum fine of Rp 50 million (approx US $5 400).

Section 20 of the law similarly threatens responsible parties that do not outlaw ashtrays in areas under their control with fines of Rp 50 million.

It is also the responsibility of building owners and managers to enforce no-smoking rules. Failure to do so can result in fines of Rp 50 million. Repeated failure to enforce the no-smoking rule can result in the suspension of operating licenses.

Meanwhile smokers breaking the law can be jailed for up to three months.

Those areas off-limit to smoking include public areas, work places, houses of worship, children play areas, public transport, places of education and medical treatment facilities.

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RABIES CONFIRMED IN BALI'S CATTLE AND PIG STOCKS

Bali’s continuing battle with rabies has entered a new and concerning phase, with the news that evidence of the deadly virus has been found in the cattle and swine populations of the island.

Radar Bali quotes an unnamed source who confirmed that scientific studies conducted at Bali’s Udayana University reveal that the rabies virus has been found in a sample of cows and pigs present on the island.
This report was further confirmed by the head of the veterinarian biomedical and molecular laboratory of the University, Professor I Gusti Ngurah Mahardika, who said that rabies had “certainly” spread to Bali's cattle and pig population.

Locations in which rabies have been confirmed in these farm animals are in the regencies of Tabanan and Badung. While reluctant to give specific areas for the outbreaks, Mahardika did confirm cattle infections in Tabanan and in the Bukit Jimbaran area of the island.

Professor Mahardika said the cases of cattle and pig infection were tied to bites from rabies-infected dogs. The pigs and cows bitten by the dogs eventually displayed rabies symptoms and died.

When asked of the risk of infection from cows and pigs to humans, Mahardika discounted such risks as being minimal. He did warn, however, of the chance of infection to meat handlers with open cuts that come in contact with the raw meat of pigs and cows.

He called for better public education on how rabies is spread in order to address the ineffective way in which rabies has been dealt with in Bali to date.

Faced with a growing death toll attributed to the rabies virus and the potential disruption to the island’s tourist trade, Bali officials have announced a three-month island-wide campaign to inoculate all dogs against rabies.
To date, an estimated 74 people have died after manifesting rabies-suspected symptoms, with 35 of those deaths positively linked to the virus through clinical tests.

I Putu Sumantra, of the Bali Animal Husbandry Agency, was quoted by The Jakarta Post as saying, “Our target is very simple: By the end of the year all dogs on this island will be inoculated with the vaccine.”
Bali plans to launch the vaccine drive in September 2010.

The latest move follows massive inoculations and culling programs of Bali’s dogs, first started in 2009. That program estimates some 300,000 dogs have already been vaccinated and 100,000 dogs culled in government-coordinated efforts to stop the spread of the disease. Brain cell samples taken randomly from the dead animals showed more than 400 dogs were infected with the disease.

The latest vaccination drive will be carried out by 200 teams, each comprised of six people, including three dog-catchers and one inoculator.

The cost of the new program has been put at Rp18.8 billion (approx US $2 065 million) to be funded by the central government and provincial government of Bali.

In preparation for the planned vaccination drive, Bali health officials are busily laying in stocks of the vaccine. Because the rabies vaccine must be administered in a series of inoculations, a follow-up drive is scheduled for June 2011.

Local officials are optimistic that Bali will once again become rabies-free by 2012.

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ABU BAKAR BA’ASYIR ARRESTED FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITIES

The Jakarta Post reports that radical Muslim cleric, Abu Bakar Baasyir, was arrested on 8 August, along with his five bodyguards Baasyir was arrested by National Police's Detachment 88 Anti-Terror Squad in Ciamis, West Java on his way home to Solo, Central Java. Baasyir, leader of Ngruki Islamic boarding school in Solo, has said his arrest was engineered by the US.

”Allah bless me. This can reduce my sin. This [arrest] is engineered by the US,” Baasyir said as quoted by tempointeraktif.com when he arrived at the National Police headquarters.

Police said Ba'asyir was the mastermind of the military-style training camp in Aceh, which was the basis of Al Qaeda in Southeast Asia and used to train terrorists. Ba’asyir had also appointed Dulmatin as the field operator at the camp. Dulmatin was shot dead during a raid in Pamulang earlier this year.

Achmad Michdan, a member of Muslim Lawyers Team, defending Ba’asyir, denied that Ba’asyir funded the military-style training camp in Aceh, saying that Ba’asyir’s money was managed by his private assistant.
Michdan said Ba’asyir received donations from many parties but he had never asked for them, and his treasurer would then distribute the donations to those who needed them most. The lawyer also said Ba’asyir bank account was managed by his private assistant. “So, it is not him (Ba’asyir) who funded the Aceh (camp).”

Earlier, Michdan confirmed that Jamaah Anshorut Tauhid (JAT), led by Ba’asyir, was one of the financiers of the military-style training in Aceh. However, he said that the training was not connected with any terrorism activities but as a preparation just in case something happened to Muslims, just like what had happened in Palestine.

He even said that JAT was not alone in supporting the Aceh training, a number of other Islamic organizations also sent their men to the training there.

Ba’asyir has vehemently refused to talk to the police, saying that he would talk only in court because he believed the police were acting in the interests of the enemy of Islam, in particular the US and Israel.

National Police spokesman, Insp Gen Edward Aritonang, said that police would continue the investigation into Ba’asyir’s case despite the latter’s refusal to answer any questions from the police. Edward said the police respected Ba’asyir’s decision to not answer questions, but they were preparing evidence to charge him. If necessary, the police would send all the investigation documents, including the evidence, to prosecutors even without Ba’asyir’s statement, he said.

“When the investigation is over, we will go ahead with the case,” Edward said, as quoted by kompas.com. “The investigation into the case has been going for a long time, we have collected testimonies and evidence,” he added.
A top police official said investigators had gathered the personal bank account records of several key terrorist suspects. He said police intended to use the evidence to strengthen charges against the hard-line cleric.

National Police deputy spokesman Brig Gen. Ketut Untung Yoga Ana said, “The amount [of money in the accounts] we recorded was close to Rp 1 billion.”

The police are working with the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) to look into other financial transactions allegedly linked to terrorist groups.

Apart from financial transaction records, police also managed to gather video recording containing testimony of a member of the JAT who acknowledged that Ba’asyir had indeed been informed about paramilitary training activity in Aceh on a regular basis.

Ba’asyir has been imprisoned twice in the past for his involvement in a plot to assassinate then president Megawati Soekarnoputri and the second time for his role in the 2002 Bali bombings. However, prosecutors only managed to prove Ba’asyir guilty of minor immigration violations.

Ba’asyir is suspected of playing a key role in funding and recruiting personnel at the Aceh paramilitary training camp, which was raided earlier this year.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has made a speech in which he called on people not to relate terrorism with Islam, and that any arrests of terrorism suspects should not be seen as an attack on Islam.

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