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LOMBOK PEARL FESTIVAL… Great Concept Marred By Poor Organisation










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.

There’s much excitement in The Lombok Guide office this fortnight as we release this year’s edition of our popular annual full colour magazine. The Lombok Guide 2010 Magazine contains 120 pages of useful information about Lombok and beautiful photos of our island in all its glory.

5000 copies of the magazine will be distributed over the next month to international travel partners throughout Europe and the UK, Japan, Singapore, China, Australia, New Zealand and more. Copies will also be available from Garuda offices world-wide, Qantas, Silk Air, Merpati and Trans Nusa airlines, all the major local hotels and selected travel agencies in Bali. If you are planning a holiday to Lombok soon, ask your travel agent for a copy!

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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LOMBOK PEARL FESTIVAL… Great Concept Marred By Poor Organisation

The inaugural Lombok Sumbawa Pearl Festival 2010, which was held in Senggigi from 6 to 8 May, was an opportunity to showcase not only the pearling industry on this diverse island, but to create an annual festival that could potentially attract tourists from all over the world.

Unfortunately, as is so often the case with these types of events, the opportunity was missed, due to poor organisation and a lack of coordination by the chosen event organiser, Karma Events, and the local Department of Tourism and Culture (Dinas Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata).

According to statements made in the press by tourism department head, Lalu Gita, the Pearl Festival was aimed to highlight the potential of the pearling industry in Lombok and Sumbawa, and to introduce the region’s pearls to potential buyers, as well as to attract tourists to the two islands.

However, just two weeks before the Festival, the lack of information about the event was appalling. As we at The Lombok Guide found out, very few people in the tourism industry were even aware that a Festival was planned. It took some serious research before we found that the event was being held at the Santosa Villas and Resort, at which point Executive Assistant Manager, Franky Rumamby was able to provide us with details so that we could promote the event to tourists and residents.

Surely such promotion should be the domain of the department of tourism and at least included in the duties of Karma Events, the Jogjakarta-based events organiser contracted by the government to organise the event.
Indeed, many in the tourism industry are questioning the government’s wisdom in using an event organiser based in Java, rather than a local company which would have local knowledge and experience, not to mention a vested interest in making the event a success.

So it was that the first Lombok and Sumbawa Pearl Festival opened on 6 May with a fizzle rather than a bang. The grand opening ceremony, touted to be attended by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY), was cancelled when it was announced that the President was unable to attend.

Instead, two national ministers were on hand to participate in the formalities: Jero Wacik, Indonesian Minister for Tourism and Culture, and Fisheries and Maritime Minister, Fadel Muhammad. The first day of the Festival was also attended by the Governor of NTB, Zainul Majdi, and national Director General of Marketing (Kemenbudpar), Sapta Nirwandar.

At the opening day press conference, both ministers spoke about the immense potential of the pearling industry in Lombok and Sumbawa. There are currently at least 36 companies in the NTB region producing cultured pearls with production values of around Rp 80 billion per year. Each year NTB pearl production ranges between 650 and 800 kg, with most pearls being exported to Japan. Lombok and Sumbawa currently export pearls to the United States, Japan, Geneva, Milan and Zurich.

Fisheries and Maritime Minister Fadel Muhammad said that around 53 percent of pearl types in the world are located in Indonesian waters. Fadel also said that he would invite international experts to help the country develop the pearl industry, saying that his government intends to fully develop pearl production centres in Lombok, Maluku and Papua to enable them to produce the best pearls in the world by 2015.

Tourism minister, Jero Wacik, who has already visited Lombok several times previously, spoke of the potential of both pearling and the tourism industry in Lombok, saying that the island was every bit as beautiful as Bali. He was particularly lavish in his praise for the beauty of Lombok’s south coast, saying, “In a competition between Bali and south Lombok, Bali would lose”.

The 3 day Festival was held in the grounds of the Santosa Villas and Resort in central Senggigi, and the Santosa did a fantastic job, despite the ineptitude of organisers. 30 exhibition booths were specially constructed in the garden, each created in the traditional Lombok lumbung design. Booths featured a stunning array of pearls and pearl jewellery by local artisans, as well as ikat and local handicrafts. There were also exhibitions of traditional weaving and handmade pottery -- two other important attractions in Lombok.

The highlight of the Festival for us was the traditional dance and music performances held every day in the centre of the exhibition arena. Featuring beautiful costumes and different styles of dancing, dramatic theatre and music, with enchanting displays by some of Lombok’s exceptionally talented young people, these performances would have delighted visitors and tourists; if only they had been invited.

What is worse is that all these exhibitions and performances were open to the general public and were offered free, with no admission charge. Unfortunately, only those who read the last issue of The Lombok Guide would have been aware of the event and even our details were sketchy, as no information was made available by the organisers.
As we stood among the few spectators (mostly reporters and photographers from Java who had been invited to the event) it was hard not to feel sympathy for the performers, who had obviously put a lot of planning and effort into their performances. One troupe of male vocalists had even gone so far as to translate their traditional song into English, for the benefit of the tourists they expected to be present.

In other pearling capitals internationally, similar pearl festivals are major events and attract visitors from around the world every year. For example, the Broome Festival of the Pearl, or Shinju Matsuri, held in the pearling centre of Broome, on the north coast of Western Australia every year is a 10 day event that attracts thousands of buyers and tourists every year.

With all the ingredients for a successful Festival, we have wonder why organiser Karma Events and the Department of Tourism did so little to promote the event to the public.

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As reported in the last issue of The Lombok Guide, the Department of Immigration introduced mandatory photographing and fingerprinting of arriving tourists at Bali airport last month, as part of new Biometric screening procedures.

However, after angry complaints from tourists, the process has been cancelled after only one week on instructions from the Minister of Justice and Human Rights.

Balidiscovery.com reports that tourists arriving at Ngurah Rai airport in Bali were forced to stand in line for up to four or more hours, while undergoing the border control management (BCM) procedures requiring fingerprints and photos of arriving passengers.

In operation for only one week, the additional layer of bureaucracy of photographing and fingerprinting arriving tourists was added to the tasks of immigration officers already overwhelmed with administering a multi-step visa-on-arrival process. During peak traffic times at Bali’s airport, delays exceeding 4 hours were reported after the introduction of the new procedures.

On 3 May 2010, the fingerprinting and photography requirements were suspended until further notice, reducing waiting time more normal parameters. However, visa and customs processes can still require an intolerable two hour wait during peak traffic periods.

The government has promised not to reintroduce the system until an adequate amount of equipment and personnel can be put in place to facilitate the smooth flow-through of arriving passengers.

Despite the hasty retreat by immigration authorities, criticism of the poor level of service provided to Bali’s inbound visitors continues.

Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya, the Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board (BTB), quoted in Radar Bali, said the short-lived BCM measures did damage to Bali’s tourism industry. Wijaya said the now-abandoned policy had little use and was just the latest in a list of “sloppy” actions performed by the agency in charge of guarding the nation’s gateways.

Citing another example, Wijaya pointed to the recent increase from an optional US $10 and US $25 visa-on-arrival policy to a flat US $25 fee, when it was discovered that some US $300 000 in visa fees had been misappropriated by immigration officials at Bali airport.

“According to what I read in the newspaper, immigration increased the fee to reduce corrupt acts. This is their internal problem; this is not the proper policy to resolve the problem,” he said.

When the corruption of visa-on-arrival fees was discovered, the officials involved were forced to return the stolen money and given administrative sanctions. Then, in order to avoid the future possibility of 30-day US $25 visa fees being booked at the 7-day US $10 rate (with the difference going into the pockets of wayward officials), the government merely increased the fee to US $25 for all visitors.

Wijaya also complained about the lack of prior consultation by Immigration with the Bali Tourism Board and other tourism stakeholders before making major changes to immigration policies.

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Excuse us while we talk about ourselves in this issue, but the hottest news this month is the release of our new annual full colour magazine!

Following the success of our previous annual publications, for the third year in a row we have published an international quality publication to promote Lombok to the world. The Lombok Guide 2010 Magazine contains 120 glossy pages of useful information about Lombok and beautiful photos by talented local photographers of our island in all its glory.

5000 copies of the magazine will be distributed this month to international travel agents throughout Europe, Britain, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam and other countries. Copies will also be available from Garuda sales offices around the world and Qantas Airways offices throughout Australia, as well as at Silk Air, Merpati, Trans Nusa and Lion Air offices nationally.

The Lombok Guide Magazines are endorsed by the Lombok Hotels Association and are used by Lombok’s top hotels in promoting Lombok at international trade fairs and expos throughout the year, such as travel marts held annually in Berlin, London, Singapore and Malaysia.

The number one obstacle to developing tourism in Lombok in the past has been the lack of information and promotional material about Lombok available to overseas travel agents. This has always made it difficult for travel partners to sell Lombok as a destination to prospective visitors.

Inspired by the challenge of producing an international standard publication, The Lombok Guide is proud to publish an annual magazine that is now respected in the industry and sought after by our overseas travel partners.
Once again, The Lombok Guide annual magazine has been produced independently by Kita Design in Lombok, without any support from the government or the Department of Culture and Tourism, NTB.

Copies of the Magazine were presented to Indonesia’s Minister for Tourism, Jero Wacik, the national Director General of Marketing (Kemenbudpar), Sapta Nirwandar, and the Governor of Lombok and Sumbawa, Zainul Majdi, at the recent Lombok Pearl Festival.

Our very special thanks to the people and businesses of Lombok, whose generosity and support allows us to publish this much needed resource for Lombok.

While the government may be complacent about promoting Lombok internationally, we at The Lombok Guide and those of us who live and work here are delighted to tell the world about Lombok and to provide overseas agents with the tools they need to market Lombok as a destination worthy of world-wide attention!

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Lombok’s Gunung Baru Jari, located inside the crater of Gunung Rinjani volcano, has increased activity again in the past couple of weeks and the volcano has been placed on a “caution” (waspada) list by Indonesian officials, following a sudden increase of explosions, sometimes throwing molten ash 1,200 meters skyward.

The eruptions provide a spectacular sight at night, and for those trekking to the shoulders of the mountain for the best views, but pose no real threat to people living on, or visiting, the island of Lombok.

According to Kun Dwi Santoso, the chief of the Mitigation of Disasters Section at the Department of Mining and Energy in West Nusa Tenggara, a large explosion on Monday, 3 May 2010 created a 1 500 metre high ash cloud. Smaller explosions followed in short succession. On Tuesday, 4 May the mountain spewed thick chocolate-colored smoke and the seismic recording station at Sembalun registered a series of strong explosions.

Reports this week say that ash clouds from the explosions have reached heights of 1800m and are clearly visible from Sembalun.

Officials have responded to the mountain’s volcanic activity by declaring the area under a general caution for those living near the mountain and tourists climbing to Rinjani’s peak. Ash falling on the north slope of the mountain has also interfered with farmers’ crops.

Scientists are concerned that the volcanic activity may increase in intensity, emitting more smoke and hot lava and a creating dangerous situation for the thousands of trekkers who come to climb the mountain each year. Kun also warned people climbing to the volcanic lake of Segara Anak of the possible accumulation of poisonous gasses on or near the lake.

Baru Jari has shown mild activity for the past two years and disrupted the annual trekking season last year, when the mountain was briefly closed to climbers. At present, trekking is allowed on the mountain to the shoulders from either Senaru or Sembalun. Camping on the lake edge is forbidden, due to its proximity to the eruption. Trekkers are warned to heed the advice of local guides who know current conditions on the mountain and are regularly updated by authorities.

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Guests from Java, Bali and Lombok celebrated Rini’s birthday
on 9 May at joe’s magnificent villa on the Hill

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

QUESTION: Since my husband and I came to live on the beautiful holiday island of Lombok, I seem to have become a golfing widow. Our luxury villa with pool was designed by the well-known Russian architect, Boris Nokitoff, and overlooks the Kosaido golf course in Sire Beach. It is bordered on the golf course side by a 2 meter high wall with bamboo hedging. Through a small gap in the wall, I can watch the male golfers teeing off on the 14th hole. I can bathe naked in my swimming pool and they can’t even see me. It’s such a pleasure to watch them whacking their balls all over the fairway.  Some of them are very handsome in their shorts. Just the other day whilst I was bathing, a handsome golfer came quite close and whacked off right in front of me for nearly half an hour. He was so close I could make out the tiny markings on his balls, which were amazingly clean considering where they had been. I would like to see more of him but am afraid he will be able to see me. Can you suggest a way of building something discreet to give me a better view?

MR FIXER: What about a camouflaged tree house similar to the “hides” that bird watchers use? You could still be naked of course and they would never know!   Alternatively, knock the wall and bamboo hedging down completely and put up a sign saying, “THE 19th HOLE.”

QUESTION:  “Pack your bags – I’ve just won the lottery!” my wife said. “Why, where are we going?” I asked. “We are not going anywhere,” she replied, “You’re the one that’s leaving. Just pack your bags and go! It’s me that’s won the lottery, not you!”  

So that’s how I ended up in sunny Lombok.  I’ve been here over a year now, and in that time I have met some great friends and drinking buddies. I’ve even met a nice young local lady half my age that takes care of me. She cleans the house and cooks my meals and is always ready to greet me with one of her beaming happy smiles when I come rolling home after an evening with the lads in the A/W Bar.

For the last year, I’ve been renting a small villa in the popular tourist area of “Green Valley” in Senggigi. It isn’t much, but it has a small garden full of exotic plants and flowers. There is always something new in the garden almost daily. Every new flower brings a new butterfly. A host of striking red dragonflies appeared recently and hovered round for almost an hour. It is an idyllic backdrop when I’m just relaxing and reading my book. It’s so nice here, I have decided to put down some roots and stay, so instead of renting, I would like to buy a small plot of land and build a villa. I’ve never built a villa before, so I don’t know where to begin. What do I do?

MR FIXER: The first thing you need to do after choosing your building plot is find an architect. Easier said than done! Don’t settle on the first one you meet. Have a rough idea of what you want to build and shop around. Compare prices and above all ask to see examples of their previous work. That should reduce your choice down by at least 90% at one stroke!

Ask intelligent questions. Enquire about damp proof courses, lintels and “P” traps. Get them to draw you a diagram of two-way switching from memory. If they can’t do this on the spot, leave immediately; this person is not an architect… you have just met another draftsman who is pretending to be an architect. These people are charlatans and should be rounded up, lined against a wall and shot at dawn! Above all, be prepared for everything to cost twice as much and take twice as long as they say it will. Building a villa from scratch can be extremely satisfying, but it is definitely not for the faint hearted. Why not stay where you are and continue to rent and enjoy the butterflies? You will probably live longer.

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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A major controversy has erupted in Bali over the imminent debut of a documentary made by a Singaporean tourist depicting foreign female tourists whose “basic instincts” are purportedly being serviced by young local men, known by the popular pseudonym of “Kuta Cowboys”.

The pseudo-documentary “Cowboys in Paradise” has been promoted on the Internet and on CNN via a raunchy and titillating trailer portraying a group of Kuta beach surfers as male gigolos.

Its writer-director-photographer, Amit Virmani, paid local men and community members for on-camera interviews. Those who were interviewed in the course of making the film claim they were deceived and were told they were appearing in a HIV/AIDS prevention film.

Provincial administrators, including Governor Pastika, and the Bali police have responded angrily to the film seen to besmirch Bali’s reputation.

As a result, locals appearing in the film have been called in for interrogation by police, while officers from Bali’s cyber crime division are examining if Virmani violated Indonesian immigration and labor laws, committed criminal fraud, and ignored regulations on film-making.

Insulted by the film’s insinuations, Kuta community leaders are denying the involvement of Balinese youth in any underground sex industry and have placed both tourists and beach workers under intense scrutiny. To date, some 29 men have been called by police for questioning.

The filmmaker responded to the public outrage, claiming a “horrible misunderstanding” has taken place. Virmani claims the film takes pains to make a distinction between “Kuta Cowboys” and male prostitutes.

Beyond any criminal charges for misrepresentation and slander that might be lodged against Virmani by those featured in the film, he also faces up to one year in jail and a fine of Rp 40 million (US $4 300) for violations of the 1992 Film Law if, or when, he can be brought to justice in Indonesia.

Reacting to the news, local security forces along Kuta Beach in Bali are keeping a close eye for young men engaged in the world’s oldest profession along the popular beachfront.

Uniformed community enforcement officers (Satgas Pantai Kuta) are patrolling the 7-kilometer stretch of beach with instructions from village chiefs to do whatever they can to stop gigolo’s practicing their trade in the wake of the widespread publicity given to the pseudo-documentary, feared to tarnish Bali’s tourism image.

According to the national news agency Antara, some young men suspected to be selling their “charms” to visiting lady tourists have been rounded up by law enforcement officers.

In the course of official investigations surrounding the film, police have discovered that the Singaporean made the film without obtaining the required permits and licenses from the Bali Film Office. Police, who wish to call the Virmani to Bali for questioning and possible prosecution, are apparently vexed by the lack of an extradition treaty between Indonesia and Singapore.

Despite the admission by Kuta’s village chief that “Kuta Cowboys” have practiced their trade for more than two decades, Indonesia’s Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, has pledged that his office will take steps to try to prevent the premiere and distribution of the “Kuta Cowboys” film. Wacik has also called on Indonesia's Minister of Communications and Information, Tifatul Sembiring, requesting assistance to prevent the film’s distribution via theatres, DVD and the Internet.

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Commencing on 1 May 2010, new Freedom of Information (FOI) laws become effective in Indonesia, giving the public and media greater access to information held by government agencies, the police and courts.

The 64-article freedom of information (FOI) law no 14/2008, regarding Public Information Transparency (KIP), works on the MALE principle: maximum access, limited exemption. The major aim of this law, stated in Article 3, is to assure citizens of their right to know about public policy making, demanding transparency of public bodies.
The Law on Public Information Transparency, passed in April 2008 and effective this month, states (in Article 3) an extensive and well-considered list of objectives intended to be advanced by the law:

a. to secure the right of the citizens to know the plan to make public policies, public policy programs, and the process to make public decisions, as well as the reason of making a public decision;
b. to encourage the participation of the society in the process of making a public policy;
c. to increase the active role of the people in making public policies and to manage the Public Agencies properly;
d. to materialise good governance, i.e., transparent, effective and efficient, accountable and responsible;
e. to know the rationale of a public policy that affects the life of the people;
f. to develop sciences and to sharpen the mind of the nation; and/or
g. to enhance the information management and service at Public Agency circles, so as to produce good quality information service.

Under this law, all public bodies are obliged to disclose the public information they keep. Public bodies are public offices as well as NGOs that receive funding from the state budget and donations from community and foreign sources.

However, Article 17 of the law lists at least 10 types of exempted information. This includes disclosing information that may obstruct law enforcement, negates protection of intellectual property rights, endangers state security and defence, revealing Indonesia’s natural wealth, that may harm national economic resilience, be detrimental to foreign relations, reveal authentic deeds such as inheritance papers of a personal nature, exposes a secret of a private nature, that is confidential memoranda between and within public bodies, and also information deemed not for disclosure by law.

Under Article 52, a public body can face a one-year jail sentence and a Rp 5 million (US $550) fine for refusing to release lawfully requested information.

One example of the law now in effect is that police can no longer say “no comment” to the press when asked for information that now, according to the new rules, is in the public domain. In real terms, police officers who take refuge behind a "no comment" barrier are subject to disciplinary sanctions.

During its discussion and promotion over the last few years, the Public Information Transparency Law must be effective by 2010. This means that the government of Indonesia – whether in legislative, executive or judicative bodies – must be ready to provide important dates or information to the public.

In the two-year period before the public information act became effective,  preparatory measures taken included developing the Information Commission at national and local levels, the drafting of implementation regulations, designing an information service system, and opening a public information unit in public bodies manned by officers tasked with storing, documenting, and serving the information.

According to the Chairman of the Central Information Commission, Ahmad Alamsyah Saragih, only seven public bodies have developed internal mechanisms to implement the FOI law.

They are the National Police, the Health Ministry, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, the government of Central Java province, the State Comptroller’s Agency (BPKP), and the Financial Transaction Reports Analysis Center (PPATK). The Communications and Information Ministry, however, has also set up a Public Information Agency.

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