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NEWS

ISSUE 76

 

HELPING LOMBOK KIDS!

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.

In this issue we congratulate the efforts of two very special groups of people who, each in their own way, are helping to shape the future of our island. The first is the wonderful team from Dental Development Foundation Indonesia, a Dutch charity that is committed to dental education and treatment in Lombok. Giving up their vacations every year, these amazing dentists travel half-way across the world to perform free dental treatments on Lombok school children. Read our special report on these special people on page 36.

Secondly, we applaud the efforts of the business community on Gili Trawangan who always seem to make charity so much fun! In the past few months, Gili T businesses have raised over Rp 65 million in funds to improve education standards and facilities on their island. We have a colour pictorial and full report on pages 61 and 66.

Dedicated and caring people who know that children are the future – we salute you!

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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TOURISM DEPARTMENT DIGS UP SENGGIGI BEACH!

Governmental insanity continues, with an early morning phone call on Friday, 22 October alerting us that workers had started digging up the beachfront on Senggigi beach… apparently creating a jogging track.
Arriving on the scene, we saw a team of workers from the local village digging up the beach in front of The Office Bar and Restaurant at the Pasar Seni (Art Markets). They had already dug a three metre strip in front of the Senggigi Beach Hotel but, apparently after hotel staff protested, moved on to the Art Markets.

We questioned staff and management at the businesses in the Art Markets, but no one knew very much about the project. There had been no warning or consultation with the businesses; although some had heard rumours that the government was planning to build a jogging track on the beach.

Now some may think this is a good idea; at least the government is doing something about the beachfront in Senggigi, at last! But on closer inspection, this isn’t so. String lines set up by the workers show plans for the two metre wide pathway are sketchy indeed. The planned route runs into trees, business premises and cement barriers designed to protect the beach from soil erosion during high tides.

The workers also said that there are plans to construct some type of bridge over the small river that flows between the Art Markets and the Santosa Resort. Anyone who knows this area understands that any bridge would need to be expertly engineered to handle the high tides and flooding that occurs in this strip during heavy rains.

A study of the tidal movement at Senggigi Beach would, as the people who do business there know, soon show the government that a cement path of any type would have to be very well-constructed to withstand the onslaught of the waves when tides are high. At times throughout the year, the water reaches right to the barrier walls in front of the restaurants – which, of course, is why the walls are there!

Moreover, a number of businesses have invested money in creating break-water barriers and drainage systems to cope with the high tides and the amount of sand that is swept across the beach with tidal movements.

The local workers, oblivious to these problems, were happily digging up the drainage system installed by The Office while we were there.

Questioning the team leader yielded little information. All he knew was that they had been instructed by Dinas Pariwisata Lombok Barat (the West Lombok Tourism Department) to build the jogging track.

When we contacted the Kadus Senggigi (Head of Senggigi Village) he told us he was already aware of the problem, as a number of businesses and local people had already contacted him to complain about the work. He said that he was only notified by the government two days before work commenced and had not given his permission for the project to go ahead. He said that he planned to meet with the Camat (District Head) later in the day to discuss the matter.

As by now we had heard that the jogging track would extend from the Senggigi Beach Hotel to the Sheraton Senggigi Resort, we contacted Pak Masri, General Manager of the Sheraton to see if he knew about the plans. Masri was shocked when he heard the news, saying that no one had consulted him and he’d heard nothing of the plans, to which he strongly objected.

Similar results when we contacted Pak Stephane, General Manager of the Santosa Villas and Resort. Although he had heard of the plans back in August, when the government asked him for permission to build a workers hut in front of the Resort, he had been told that construction plans and a proposal would be presented to involved parties, should the project go ahead. When work commenced on Friday, he had heard nothing from the government since that August meeting.

Later in the day, the Kepala Desa (Village Head) arrived to see what was happening. He did know about the project, as he was notified a week before, but agreed with those present that the money would be better spent on drainage and repairing the main road through Senggigi. He said that everyone in the area was complaining but he felt powerless to stop the project.

Everyone we talked to was in agreement. The Tourism Department should have consulted with investors and tourism industry stakeholders before deciding on such a project. Nobody felt that a jogging track would attract tourists to the beach or enhance the beachfront appeal. Most were concerned that the pathway would be used by illegal vendors to set up more stalls selling goods on the beach and that it would be used as a seating area, blocking access to the restaurants from the beach.

Everyone was concerned that the path would be broken up by the waves and covered with sand within months, and with the government’s usual policy of cheap construction and no follow up maintenance, the path would become yet another eyesore on a beachfront that badly needs cleaning up.

All feel that, if the Tourism Department has funds to embark on this unwanted project, the money would be better spent on repairing the main road in Senggigi and upgrading the drainage system and footpaths.
Once again, the Department of Tourism and the local Lombok government have shown how out of touch they are with the needs of tourists and the tourism industry in Lombok.

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WHAT'S HOT!

Melbourne Cup Day is the day when everything comes to a halt in Australia and the whole nation tunes in to the famous horse race. For all Aussies and those who love the Australian horse racing event of the year, don’t miss Melbourne Cup Day on Tuesday, 2 November. It’s a chance to dress up in silly hats and costumes, consume large amounts of champagne, cheer on horses you know absolutely nothing about and generally kick up your heels!

The Beach Club (on the beach near Café Alberto) is the place to celebrate in Senggigi. The popular bar and restaurant “does” the Melbourne Cup, with the race televised on the big screen at the bar and followed by a delicious lunch. Join in the fun, with all traditional Melbourne Cup sweeps and prizes and don’t forget your Cup attire! There are free cocktails for ladies wearing Cup Day hats and prizes for the best outfits on the day. The fun starts at 10am. Ph: 693637, www.thebeachclublombok.com

• On the Gilis, The Cup Day at The Beach House is the place to be. Last year’s event was huge, with the whole island partying at the bar and most of the fast boats joining in the local boat races around the islands. Fast boat races are planned for this year, as well as lots of ice cold champers and other bevvies, live telecast on the big screen, sweeps and Cup Day fun! Haul out your craziest hat and join the party crowd at the bar from 10am! Ph: 642352, www.beachhousegilit.com

• Fed up with the sloppy service from our usual airline ticket booking agency, we decided to try the services of city-based Citramulia Travel last week. The modern and efficient travel agency, located on the left on the main street in Cakra just past Mataram Mall, surprised us with their amazingly professional service. Rather than sitting around waiting for phone calls that never get returned, we had immediate confirmation of flights over the phone. Nor did we have to go into the city to pay or pick up tickets – everything can be organised by email and bank transfer. Best of all, they even have an agent at the airport who will check you in and be waiting at the airport, ready to hand you your ticket and check in pass when you arrive. Staff speak excellent English and are also able to handle international ticketing – all with professional efficiency and a minimum of fuss. This local business gets a big “thumbs up” from us! Ph: 633469 (advert on travel page)

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YOUR SAY

Dear Editor,

As recent correspondence and articles have indicated, carrying out tourism business in Senggigi is not without its problems. There are issues such as the major flooding of the roads, unpaved parking areas in front of the supermarkets, rubbish collection, poor pavements etc, etc.

Imagine my surprise and shock on Friday morning at 8am to discover that work had just commenced in front of my restaurant on Senggigi Beach to construct a 2 metre-wide pathway/jogging track. When we spoke with the workers, they said that they had been employed by Dinas Pariwisata in West Lombok to build the track from the Senggigi Beach Hotel to the Sheraton Resort. The plan also included a bridge across the river that runs down the side of the Santosa Resort. There appears to have been no consultation with the operators of the beachfront hotels and restaurants. The workers were just told to start.

Apart from the practicalities of building a bridge across a wadi that becomes a raging torrent in stormy weather, there are the problems of continuing the pathway north past my restaurant. There are trees and obstacles in the way and the sea will cover the pathway at high tide.

Why do the authorities waste money in such a manner? How many extra tourists do they think will come to Senggigi Beach because there is a jogging track? Why not spend the effort in tidying up the beach and removing all the illegal fishing boats?

Does Dinas Pariwisata really understand what tourists, especially foreigners, like and dislike? If not, I suggest that they consult with the owners of businesses in Senggigi before spending money. Build storm drains and stop the flooding, rebuild broken pathways, re-pave parking areas, remove mud from the streets. Should I go on?

Fix the problems first and then, if you have money left over, think about jogging tracks!

Best regards,
Howard Singleton, The Office Bar and Restaurant, Senggigi

Kepada Penulis

Berbicara mengenai bisnis pariwisata di Senggigi adalah tidak lepas dari masalah yang menyertainya. Ada beberapa masalah besar seperti banjir di jalan raya, area parkir yang rusak di depan supermarket, masalah pengumpulan sampah, trotoar yang rusak, dan sebagainya.

Bayangkan betapa terkejutnya saya pada hari jumat jam 8 pagi, mengetahui bahwa ada proyek yang sedang dilakukan di depan restoran saya di pesisir pantai Senggigi untuk membuat jalan yang terbuat dari semen selebar 2 meter untuk area joging. Ketika kami berbicara kepada para pekerja, mereka mengatakan bahwa mereka disewa oleh Dinas Pariwisata Lombok Barat untuk membuat area joging sepanjang pesisir pantai dari Hotel Senggigi Beach sampai Hotel Sheraton. Rencananya juga termasuk membangun jembatan di atas kali yang sangat jorok di samping Hotel Santosa. Tanpa ada konsultasi dengan para pengusaha hotel dan restoran di pesisir pantai Senggigi, para pekerja tersebut hanya diperintahkan untuk melaksanakannya.

Selain masalah yang akan terjadi pada saat cuaca buruk setelah jembatan dibangun nanti, ada masalah lain yang akan dihadapi dengan melanjutkan membuat area joging ini, ada beberapa pohon dan hambatan-hambatan lain dan pada saat air pasang, pasir akan menutui area joging tersebut.

Kenapa pemerintah Lombok Barat menyiakan uang untuk proyek yang akan tambah mendatangkan masalah? Ada berapa banyak tambahan turis yang mereka pikir akan datang ke pantai Senggigi dengan adanya area joging ini? kenapa tidak menggunakan uang dan tenaga tersebut untuk membersihkan pantai dan menyingkirkan perahu-perahu ilegal yang ada di sepanjang pesisir pantain Senggigi.

Apakah Dinas Pariwisata benar-benar mengerti apa arti turis, khususnya wisatawan mancanegara, tentang apa yang disukai dan apa yang tidak disukai? Jika tidak, saya sarankan mereka untuk berkonsultasi dengan para pemilik bisnis di Senggigi sebelum mereka mulai menghabiskan uang. Bangun saluran air yang memadai untuk menghentikan banjir, bangun ulang trotoar yang rusak, semen ulang area parkir, bersihkan lumpur yang ada di jalan raya, apa harus saya teruskan?

Perbaiki masalah-masalah yang ada dulu, kemudian bila pemerintah masih ada kelebihan uang, baru pikirkan masalah membuat area joging di pesisir pantai!

Salam
Howard Singleton, The Office Bar & Restaurant, Senggigi.

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LOCAL SCENE

HAPPY BIRTHDAY HOWARD!

More than 200 people joined popular Senggigi businessman and philanthropist
Howard Singleton in celebrating his 60th birthday at The Office Bar & Restaurant

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MR FIXER

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

QUESTION: I have recently bought a small villa in the popular Green Valley estate in Senggigi in a residential street where owners are upgrading and improving their properties by renovations and extensions. This has the double whammy effect of improving the look of the whole street and at the same time increasing the overall values of all the surrounding properties. 


A villa just across the street from me has undergone extensive building works and is nearing completion. As a result of these building works, I have had to put up with the unsightly mess of a building site just metres away. I didn’t mind this, as the end result would be a nicer street and the value of my property would be enhanced by being opposite a more desirable villa. As work on the villa opposite progressed, bricks, sand, bags of cement and other building materials were gradually replaced by a pile of builder’s rubble. Just last week, I looked out of my window to see the pleasant sight of the villa opposite in all its finished glory with new walls and doors, new roof and guttering and freshly painted surfaces. All the building rubble had gone and the area in front of the newly renovated villa had been swept clean. 

It wasn’t until I went shopping later that day that I found out where all the builder’s rubble had gone. Yep - you guessed it! Dumped right next to my villa! I couldn’t believe it. The cheeky f***ers had dumped their rubbish next to my house. Needless to say I was livid. They had increased the value of their property and had decreased the value of mine!  

My husband went across the road to speak to the builders and they promised to remove it. That was 6 weeks ago and nothing has happened. In fact, other people have started dumping more rubbish on top of it as if it has become a public tipping ground! A kind friend offered to remove some of it by bagging the rubble and taking it away in his van.  He left some cement bags and my husband suggested that the builders should be responsible for bagging it, as they had dumped it in the fist place. What do you suggest?

MR FIXER: Do it yourself.

QUESTION: I have been renovating a villa for several months in a nice street in the popular tourist area of Senggigi and I am relieved to say that it is nearly finished. As a result of the renovations, the value of my property has increased dramatically. The builders I employed have not been back to do the final finishing touches, so I am unable to move my furniture in and take up residence. My wife and I are extremely keen to move in. Do you have any suggestions?

MR FIXER: Do it yourself.

QUESTION: A friend of mine recently asked me to remove some rubble from outside her villa in a nice residential area of Green Valley in Senggigi. As the rubble would come in handy for filling holes in a public road I am trying to repair, I removed some rubble myself by bagging it up in cement bags for ease of transportation in my pickup truck and I left additional cement bags and a spade so she and her husband could bag the rest, which I would collect later. 

Her husband objected to this arrangement on the basis that the responsibility for the bagging work should be upon the builder who dumped the rubble in the first place. The builder apparently agreed to this but said he would prefer to load the rubble into my truck by spading it in rather than by bagging it prior to my arrival. Such a simple thing as putting “hardcore” into a bag can turn out to be such an epic saga. It would take 2 or 3 hours to clear it all away into bags (with 2 or 3 people). If it were in bags, I could empty my truck single handedly in half an hour per trip. If my truck was filled by spading it in and then having to spade it out, it would take 5 times as long to do the job and damage the paintwork unnecessarily. 

In addition, the road I am trying to repair (for other people at my own expense) is so narrow, if I spent 2 or 3 hours unloading by hand using a spade, I would have to move my truck 10 times to allow vehicles to pass, at the same time as trying to unload. Why they want to turn a 3 hour job into a 13 hour job with 5 hours of negotiation is beyond me! Do you have any suggestions?

MR FIXER: If you want to do anything, it is often better to do it yourself.

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POLICE TO CLAMP DOWN ON EXHAUST NOISE

Are the local police reading The Lombok Guide? We hope so, especially as we have been sending them personal letters and copies of our newspaper, following a flood of letters from both local and expatriate residents complaining about the noise pollution being caused by motorbikes with illegally modified mufflers.
Obviously residents in Mataram have had enough of the noisy nuisance too, calling on police to take action to get the offenders off the roads.

Lombok is being plagued with motorbike noise, as the trend among riders (especially teenagers) is to remove or modify the mufflers on their bikes, to produce as much noise as possible.

The practice is illegal and police in Bali have taken strong action to kill the trend, confiscating modified bikes and imposing heavy penalties on bike owners whose motorbikes do not comply with Indonesian standards.
An article in local newspaper, The Lombok Post, reports that residents in the city have demanded that police raid noisy motorbikes, saying that the motorbikes are disturbing people who are resting at home; especially at night, when most people are gathered together with families.

In addition, police have also asked been asked to crack down on motorists who replace their rear lights with lights that dazzle other motorists, pointing out that rear lights that do not fit the standard endanger other motorists. Replacing the standard red safety light on the rear of the motorbike with a bright white or flashing light is another trend that has become popular in Lombok, where police are notorious for not enforcing road rules.

Meanwhile, the Mataram district police claimed that they will continue to intensify raids this noisy exhaust problem. According to Mataram police, not only are Satlantas (the traffic police) in Mataram involved in the raids, but also three other branches of the police department, namely Polsekta (Sector police) in Cakranegara, Mataram and Ampenan are responsible for raids on the noisy bikes.

According to the police, Satlantas has also formed a special unit with 18 personnel on duty to apprehend motor cycles that use non-standard exhaust systems. Motorists found using modified mufflers are supposed to be chased, apprehended and taken to Mapolres (Mataram Police Station).

Motorcycles impounded with modified exhausts will not be returned to owners before the exhaust is replaced with a standard exhaust system. Motorcyclists are also required to sign an agreement not to use the noisy exhaust again.

If riders who have already signed these agreements are found using the noisy systems again, the motorbike will be confiscated.

The police unit charged with stopping exhaust noise is divided into three teams, with each team consisting of six people who are responsible for conducting rotating shifts. The unit reports that it is successfully cracking down on around 10 riders each day, with more than one hundred vehicles impounded since the beginning of October. The laws apply to noisy exhaust systems on cars as well as motorbikes.

While the news is encouraging, we have yet to see any action being taken by Polsek Senggigi. When we contacted the Senggigi branch last Sunday – after witnessing and hearing literally hundreds of offenders racing noisy bikes on the main street – the officer on duty said that they are also raiding bikes with noisy exhausts.

“We have one sitting at the police station now,” he said.

Well, one is a start, but it’s not much compared to the hundreds of offenders that swarm into the tourist area every Saturday night and Sunday. Or the local hoons who have nothing better to do than race up and down the road in Senggigi every day.

With the spotlight now firmly on this public nuisance, and the community in the city demanding action, now is the time for Senggigi residents and business people to add their voices to the protest. The telephone number for the Senggigi police station is: 693267.

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ONLY TIME WILL TELL

The annual TIME (Tourism Indonesia Mart & Expo) held in Lombok from 12 – 15 October 2010, appears to have been a success.

This was the second year in a row that the national travel mart was held in Lombok. Last year’s event, sponsored by the Lombok government, cost the island Rp 5 billion and was veiled in controversy, with the organising committee – Lombok Sumbawa Promo – being disbanded and investigated for corruption and misappropriation of funds.

This year’s event was organized by the newly formed BPPD (Regional Tourism Promotion Board) in cooperation with Pacto Convex as the event organiser, government departments and tourism industry stakeholders, with a budget of Rp 3.5 billion.

Held at Santosa Villas and Resort in the centre of Senggigi, a huge air conditioned tent was erected on the beachfront at Senggigi Beach. Inside, an estimated 118 buyers from 22 countries had the chance to visit booths and discuss travel opportunities with 104 sellers from throughout Indonesia, many of them from Lombok.

The official opening ceremony for TIME was held on Gili Trawangan, showcasing one of Lombok’s most popular and successful tourism destinations. A gala dinner and welcoming ceremony was hosted by top Gili T resort, Hotel Vila Ombak.

During the three day event, the West Java government also hosted a fabulous dinner with traditional entertainment at the Holiday Resort in Mangsit, which drew praise from all participants.

On Wednesday, 13 October, the Santosa hosted an Official Press Conference attended by local and national media, as well as several international travel writers and journalists. The Governor for West Nusa Tenggara (NTB), M Zainul Madjdi, and the Director General of Marketing for the national Department of Culture and Tourism, Sapta Nirwandar, made speeches praising TIME as an important marketing tool for destinations within Indonesia.

Question time after the speeches was at times tense, with the two leaders fielding some leading questions from the international media. In particular, Mario and Luke, two well-informed journalists from Italy, were keen to question the Governor about the “Visit Lombok and Sumbawa 2012” programme, which was launched last year.

When asked what results had been achieved so far, the Governor answered that tourism in the region had increased by 13% over the previous year and that his government hoped to achieve a total of 1 million visitors with their “Visit Lombok and Sumbawa” programme in 2012.

Official figures put tourist arrivals into Lombok at between six and seven hundred thousand visitors per year, with 446 000 visitors to the region recorded up until August this current year.

Critics point to the amount of money being spent on the “Visit Lombok Sumbawa 2012” programme and the unsubstantiated 13% annual increase as being indications that results are negligible, saying that a 13% increase is probably a normal growth figure for the region, with national arrival figures being around the same amount. Even based on an optimistic target of 700 000 visitors for 2010, growth of 13% in the coming year will not achieve the one million visitors targeted by the government in its costly campaign.

Questioning was also intense regarding the long-awaited completion of the Lombok International Airport. Both local and international media questioned the many delays and conflicting reports regarding the opening of the airport.

Governor Madjdi announced that the airport was being fully supported by the Indonesian government and that building was expected to be complete by December 2010, with an official opening to take place “within the first three months of 2011, at the latest”.

The Lombok Guide questioned the Governor over this optimistic statement, citing the current progress of the airport construction and flooding of the site, together with road and terminal construction problems.

We also questioned whether the government intended to meet IATA (International Air Transport Association) and other aviation authority standards at the new airport, which would require international standard hospital and fire departments, in case of aviation emergencies, amongst other requirements and, if so, how these would be completed within the next five months.

We also questioned road access to the airport, which currently requires an average transfer time to Senggigi of around two hours. Most of the road construction has yet to be commenced and, in some cases, purchase of land from existing tenants has not been finalised.

This brought a flood of questions from the media. The Governor responded by saying, “I said that I hoped the airport would be completed within the first three months of next year. Let’s say that we hope it will be ready by March 2011.”

Official estimates of the total cash value of transactions for TIME 2010 are around Rp 179.5 billion (approx US $18.9 million), an increase of around 8% on the revenue generated by TIME 2009.
Only time will tell if these figures are accurate – and whether the investment in holding the travel mart yielded sufficient results.

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CALLS TO ABOLISH VOA

The Indonesian government’s police of extending visas-on-arrivals (VOA) to the citizens of a number of countries must be ended in favor of a visa-free policy. The reasons for introducing the VOA policy several years ago are no longer relevant and counter-productive to the interests of the nation.

That’s the opinion of I Gede Wiratha, the former chairman of the Bali Chamber of Commerce (KADINDA), former Bali chairman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI-Bali) and the owner of several tourism enterprises in Bali.

Quoted in The Bali Post, Wiratha said the VOA policy introduced during the reign of Yusril Ihza Mahaendra as the Minister of Law and Human Rights, was seen at the time as an effective way of improving State security and rooting out illegal working aliens posing as tourists.

Wiratha asked what was the actual effectiveness of the VOA policy? Responding to his own rhetorical question, Wiratha said, “The terrorist acts in this country were not committed by foreign nationals, but by our own citizens. The Americans don’t want to bomb Bali, neither do the English or the Australians have such intentions. It can be said that the foreigners who visit Bali love Bali and Indonesia because of our diversity of culture and its natural beauty.”

Wiratha says the current VOA policy is impeding national tourism, wastes time and makes people tired.
“Just imagine, visitors come from Europe after a flight of 8 hours; wait in line at immigration for two hours; wait again for a bus; and then encounter traffic jams and other inconveniences. This is so tiring,” explained Wiratha, who also owns Bounty Cruises.

Seen from a Balinese perspective, Wiratha told The Bali Post, the VOA policy has brought negative results and damaged the island’s image.

“I think the government of SBY has yet to provide a meaningful stimulus for our tourism industry,” he said, “For this reason, I call on all components of the Balinese people and the rest of the country to support a visa-free policy. Such a move would not only benefit Bali, but all of Indonesia because of the jump in tourism arrivals that would result. The tourists would not only flow to Bali. The tourists would also get to know the rest of Indonesia – Papua, Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi and other destinations. Let’s be visa free and give visas for six months,” Wiratha suggested.

He believes such a change in policy would automatically benefit the economy and create new employment opportunities. “Hopefully Pak SBY (the President) can consider a visa-free policy,” he said.

The tourism leader also dismissed any suggestion that abolishing the VOA would represent a significant loss in State revenues. He said he calculates the revenues produced by VOA at around Rp 35 billion (approx US $3.9 million), all of which is remitted to Jakarta. Wiratha said such revenues were little more than the income of an average hotel in Kuta, underlining that the damage done by the VOA policy to date far outweighs any financial benefit derived from the policy.

In related news, the Director General of Immigration, Mohammad Indra, has announced a new border control system that will be implemented at 129 entry points in Indonesia by 2011. The new system promises to eliminate long delays at Indonesia’s major airports.

Indra told the press, “At the same time, the system will allow us to process travel documents quickly, taking only 36 seconds per person, eliminating the long queues at the airport, which the tourism sector has been complaining about.”

In response to severe and widespread criticism of poor service at immigration desks at major airports, Indonesia’s immigration service is currently hiring and training 200 new officers and providing visa-on-board services on selected Garuda flights to Bali from Tokyo and Sydney. Garuda will also soon introduce visa-on-board services on flights from Dubai and from China.

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MAKING LOMBOK KIDS SMILE!

A tall man with white hair walks across the school playground in the rural village of Lingsar. Two little boys run up, each grabbing hold of one of his hands and grinning up at him. You’d never know that these children have just had teeth removed the day before by this very man: dentist, Dr Huub van’t Veld.

Huub, and his wife, Willy, have become a familiar sight to Lombok’s poorest village children. Every year, this lovely Dutch couple visit Lombok, educating local children in dental hygiene and providing free dental treatments at schools in the small villages throughout the island.

Dental Development Foundation Indonesia was founded in 2004 by two caring dentists from The Netherlands: Dr Leo Sluimers and Dr Huub van’t Veld. Since 2004, these two dentists, together with Willy, who is an experienced dental assistant, have given up their vacation time in Europe to come to Lombok, treating the children’s tooth problems and training local dentists.

Not only do they willingly forgo their holidays for this cause, they entice other dentists in Holland to also give up their annual vacations and instead spend their time giving free dental treatments in Lombok. This year, Huub and Leo were accompanied by four other Dutch dentists and five dental assistants who agreed to donate their time and expertise to help Lombok’s kids.

The dental treatments are offered to local school children free of charge and are funded by the dentists themselves and through monies raised by the Foundation in The Netherlands. Volunteers pay their airfares, accommodation and other travelling costs out of their own pockets, in addition to donating their time and expertise.

The Foundation also funds the purchase of anaesthetics, equipment and filling materials locally.
The two-level programme consists of a period of educating the children about proper dental hygiene and why it is important to care for their teeth. Low standards of education and poor understanding of dental hygiene, together with bad experiences at the hands of local dentists – and a lack of money for better care – have all led to problems with the children’s teeth and their perception of dentists.

As many local children do not even own a toothbrush and many more have never visited a dentist, the dentists know that education is an important part of teaching the children healthy habits for the future.

Next year, they plan to start inviting the parents to participate in the training programmes, so that more people understand what the dentists are trying to achieve and to encourage village families to care for their teeth.
It’s an amazing achievement and a sight to behold when the education phase culminates in whole classes of children squatting in the schoolyard brushing their teeth, under the gentle guidance of Huub and Willy, teaching them to do it properly!

The children also receive gift packs containing a toothbrush, a tube of toothpaste, a rinsing glass, information pamphlets and a special T-shirt from The Netherlands foundation. The toothpaste and toothbrushes are generously donated by the Rotary Club of Mataram, Lombok.

While teaching at the selected schools, Huub and Willy assess which children require dental treatment and start planning how they will carry out their massive task when they return later in the year with their volunteer team.

This month, Dr Huub and Willy were back in Lombok, working at four local schools: two in Penimbung and two in Lingsar, both small rural villages in West Lombok. The education phase of their project was carried out when they last visited in May this year.

Together with their team, and assisted by two local dentists and two local dental assistants, they performed dental treatments on an amazing 572 children in total. In six days of intensive efforts, the team carried out 349 extractions and 620 fillings on the children!

“We are very pleased with these figures,” Huub said, “In the previous four years we have always performed more extractions than fillings. It’s so much better to be filling permanent teeth, rather than the children losing them!”

The children range in age from 6 to 14 years, with 35% of them between the ages of 6 and 8. Some of them have teeth that are in such poor condition that calculus (hard layers of plaque built up from never brushing) has to be chipped away to expose the rotten teeth underneath.

It’s exhausting work, as the classrooms are generally basic, dirty and badly ventilated for Lombok’s hot weather. Because of the difficulty of transporting heavy equipment, the dentists are forced to use the facilities at hand, although they all bring their own dental equipment from Holland.

In the past, classroom desks, chairs and tables were utilized as needed, but as most are Indonesian height, this resulted in aching backs and shoulders at the end of the day for the dentists.

This year the Foundation raised funds in The Netherlands to purchase three portable dental chairs, which has made the back-breaking work in the schools much easier. Singapore Airlines generously transported the dental chairs to Lombok free of charge.

The kindness of others was almost derailed when customs officials at Selaparang Airport in Lombok tried to impose duties on the donated equipment, but Huub was finally able to convince them that their greed was destructive to their efforts to help Lombok people.

When we asked Huub and Willy if they would ever come to Lombok just for a holiday, the couple laughed, saying, “There are still so many villages for us to treat! We have a mission to bring dental care to the entire island before we can rest!”

They may laugh, but we know they are very serious and, no doubt, they will continue to do just that!
If you would like to show your support and help these caring people carry out more work in the future, please visit their website at www.DDFI.nl or email ddfi@planet.nl and donate… no matter how little, every bit will help put a smile on the faces of Lombok kids!

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GILI T RAISES ISLAND STANDARDS

Two very successful events over the past few months have raised around Rp 65 million in funds, which Gili Trawangan businesses have pledged to be used to improve education facilities and conditions for local school children on the island.

The Fun Day Sunday hosted by the Gili Trawangan Development Association on 18 July 2010 raised over Rp 25,000,000 in funds for the local school, while providing a fun day out for everyone involved. Over 300 children and adults took part in sack races, sand-castle building competitions, the very popular “sponge the boss” game, and a Tacro Tournament, and were entertained by a live band on the beach, a bar and delicious food supplied by local restaurants.

All hands were on deck for the event with local businesses donating raffle prizes, refreshments, beach games and their time to host the Fun Day for everyone. Lucky participants won generous prizes such as luxury villa stays, fast boat tickets, complimentary meals at Gili T restaurants and free dives.

The SD-SMP Gili Trawangan (the local school on Gili T) has already presented the Gili Trawangan Development Association with a “wish list” for the school which includes fans, new desks for the students and playground equipment. Funds raised from this initial Fun Day are being used to purchase new fans for the classrooms and water coolers and dispensers for the students. Desks are being manufactured and will be supplied for teachers and students in the near future.

This wonderful event was followed by the Gili Trawangan Charity Triathlon when, for his birthday on Monday 11 October, Manta Dive instructor, Shaun Terry, wanted to compete in a friendly Triathlon. As the idea started to take shape and grow, Shaun decided to make the event a fundraiser for the local community. With the help of all the other dive centres and local businesses, a huge day was pulled together and over Rp 40,000,000 was raised. 

The Triathlon started with an Olympic-level swim from the beach in front of Trawangan Dive, where over  80 people, including locals and tourists, tested their metal against some of the island’s fittest and fastest. The second leg of the Triathlon comprised a bike ride from Trawangan Dive to The Beach House, followed by a very competitive run around the island.

Mike Board from Gili Free Dive & Yoga came in first in the Individual category with an amazing time of 53 minutes, just ahead of Shaun from Manta Dive.

In the Team category, the SMK Tourism High School Team came in first, ahead of the Blue Marlin Dive Team, winning the event in just 55 minutes.

Andy Whitecroft, from Manta Dive, won the Individual Handicap, ahead of Graham from Kelapa Villas; while the girls put on a magnificent performance with Delphine Robbe from the Gili Eco Trust clocking the fastest female time, just minutes ahead of Vanessa Lill from Blue Marlin Dive.

After the Triathlon, everyone joined in at a special charity BBQ and Buffet at The Beach House, before moving on to Blue Marlin Dive for a huge after-party where the raffle was drawn!

Funds raised by the Triathlon are being donated to the SMK Pariwisata (Tourism School), a special branch of the local school that was opened last year to allow the older children to stay on the island for higher education, specialising in training in the tourism industry. The generous sum raised by the community event will go a long way toward developing the new school, with the aim of bringing equipment and facilities up to national standards.

The Gili Trawangan community is committed to supporting the local environment and community and is really setting the standard in Lombok; working with local communities for effective and sustainable development on the island!

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GARUDA THE BEST IN SEA

As further proof of both the management and financial turn-around now underway at Garuda Indonesia, the national airline has just been ranked as the best carrier for service among all Southeast Asian airlines.
The ranking, conducted by the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), gave Garuda the highest service score of 8.48, followed by Bangkok Airways (8.4), Singapore Airlines (7.68), Thai Airways (7.32) and Malaysian Airlines (7.0).

Quoted in The Jakarta Post, Garuda’s President Director boasted, “Garuda has been implementing a business transformation programme that covers all aspects of the company.”

Garuda is adding new aircraft to its fleet and providing innovative customer services – such as its new “visa-on-board” service.

CAPA provides independent research analysis for the aviation industry, performing comparative studies for airlines operating in the Asia-Pacific, the Americas, the Middle East and Africa.

The positive service survey report is seen as a boost to Garuda’s plans to offer a portion of its shares to the public in the first quarter of 2011.

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BALI BOMBINGS REMEMBERED

The 8th anniversary of the first Bali bombing held at the Australian Consulate in Denpasar on Tuesday, 12 October 2010, showed that time has done little to ameliorate the pain of those who suffered injuries and loss in the terrorist bombing.

Quoted in Bisnis Bali, Takako Suzuki, the parent of one of those killed, said anger persists over the attack which took her son and his wife while on their honeymoon in Bali. While holding back tears, Takako said, “I am still angered by this event. In fact, my child and daughter-in-law came to Bali to enjoy your peace and beauty, but instead they became victims of a bomb.” Takako said she felt some relief when the three men behind the bombing were executed by the Indonesian government.

”I hope there will never be another bomb in Bali,” she added.

Feelings of sadness were also expressed by the Consulate-General for Australia in Bali, Brent Hall, who expressed his condolences for the victims and the injured while welcoming the cooperation between Australia and Indonesia in the war on terrorism.

Bali’s Governor, Made Mangku Pastika, spoke at the ceremony, saying how the annual commemoration served to remind all of the terrible and tragic loss of 202 lives that occurred on 12 October 2002. 

“The purpose of this ceremony is not to re-open old wounds and stir thoughts of revenge in hearts of those who suffered loss,” he said. “We wish to honor the memory of all those who lost their lives, even though they committed no wrong.”  The Governor said that he hoped the bombing would serve as a warning to Bali to remain steadfast in maintaining safety and security on the island.

Separately, but on the same day, families of those who died 8 years ago gathered at the “Ground Zero” monument on Jalan Legian in Kuta to spread flower petals and say prayers for the deceased. The ceremony at the monument was led by the legendary community leader, H Agus Bambang Prianto, who played a prominent role in recovery efforts following the bombing.

Speaking at the ceremony, Hayati, a widow of the Bali 2002 bombing, said, “Eight years ago, our husbands, wives, friends and children fell victim to those who, in the name of terror, inflicted their terror on all of us.” The widow invited everyone to pray for the surviving families of the Bali bombing in order that they may find the strength to carry on with their daily lives.

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