When I go to Bali
, usually for a spot of well-earned R 'n' R, I avoid "corporations like KFC, Starbucks and McDonald's (which) colonise Kuta's main drag.
For many years, we've stayed with a family in Ubud who have built a few rooms for transients like us. We are made to feel welcome and part of the family, to the extent that we engage with their lives and the rituals of the Balinese culture, rather than being mere witnesses to the homogenised culture laid on for package tourists.Tourism is trumpeted by governments in the global south as a quick-fix means of generating the much-needed foreign exchange demanded by the IMF and the World Bank. But there is rarely any consultation with ordinary people whose lives are irrevocably affected by the influx of wealthy foreigners, and little regard to the environmental, social and cultural impacts at the sharp end. ..... for ordinary Balinese, and the economic migrants who flock there from other poorer parts of predominantly Muslim Indonesia, life is far less benign.
The economic migrants as well as the poorer Balinese underclass will continue to struggle to catch the crumbs from richer folks' purses.Looking older than her age, 45-year old Wayan is among hundreds of courageous Balinese women who are the breadwinners of their families. Wayan, who refused to disclose her full name, was still out there offering her goods to the numerous local and foreign holidaymakers spending their leisure time at the popular Kuta beach on Tuesday."I have to make ends meet. This is the only job I have to support my children," Wayan said.
And life in the short-term is going to get even harder here in Indonesia with the cut in fuel subsidies. Discussions in most households, including Jakartass Towers, now revolve around how we can make savings in our monthly expenditure; there are few expectations of an increase in income.Because of the three-fold increase in oil prices from a little above the US$20 per barrel mark to over $60 in mid 2005, the projected subsidy spending for 2005 increased by more than 50 percent, from $8 billion to $14 billion. That means 50 percent more than the whole of the development budget of Indonesia, amounting to around 25 percent of the total budget. That is definitely unsustainable as there is no additional income to cover the increase available unless we amend the budget to take money away from education and health. This is undesirable as the allocations on these areas are already minimal.
If subsidies are not cut, overall macroeconomic objectives will be endangered because of the ensuing higher budget deficit. The government must also adopt a set of other policies designed to promote conservation, the development of alternative resources and increased production of crude and refined products.
There have been intermittent government campaigns over the years exhorting the citizenry to Hemat energi, hemat biaya
(Save energy, save costs). I can see few signs that this has been widely adopted. The dependence on private transport here in the Jakarta, due to the paucity and incoherence of a public transport policy, is just one example of a failed government policy, of a city undeserving of international accolades
Yet I am encouraged to discover that there are projects in Indonesia which have initiated projects to become energy efficient, thus 'promoting conservation'. Balikpapan, Bandung, Bogor, Cilegon, Denpasar, Medan, Pontianak, Semarang, Surabaya and Yogyakarta have joined the Cities for Climate Protection (CCP) Campaign in Indonesia
.Yogya has pilot-tested a project to reduce air pollution through non-motorized transport by banning motorized vehicles from selected roads. Among the non-motorized vehicles that came back into popularity included the local 'becaks.'
There is a great need for wider public involvement in the economic well-being of one's community. Having such a stake would surely reduce the alienation which produces the young nihilists who are the foot soldiers for the mad mullahs.