Senin, 03 Agustus 2009


Bali for People or Tourist Colony?


Agung Wardana

Provincial Government of Bali is drafting the new Provincial Regulation on Spatial Plan to shift Provincial Regulation Number 3/ 2005 on Provincial Spatial Plan of Bali and to adjust with national policy. This draft will become the first duty for the elected Provincial Parliament Members and will be showing how they set-up Bali in the next 20 years.

Substantially, paradigm that used in this draft is business as usual paradigm. We can see that the growth of the tourism sector still be the dominant perspective and to expand it to the new areas. Area and infrastructure development and spatial management is being dictated by the tourism interests.

If we are consistent that 20 years as the time frame, we should start from now to analyze what threaten Bali in the future, not only in local level but also in global level. If we talk about tourism as a mass activity and uncontrolled capital investment in next 20 years, tourism will be the biggest threat for Bali.

Political Economy of Tourism
The politic of spatial management in Bali is driven by the political-economy of tourism, so that human security, environmental justice and nature preservation are the least issues. Even academics and experts told us that if tourism getting wider and growing it means positive impact to the human security and the environment. This assumption is to constructed a myth of tourism and that is a misconception in several ways.

Firstly, the principle of the political-economy of tourism is “less capital for more profit”, in the other word, it means social and ecological cost still as the external cost, out of the production cost that to be pressed as cheap as possible. Charge for sleep a night in five-star hotel in Nusa Dua, for instance, is not include the cost to using water in bath up, swimming pool, golf course that created water conflicts, displacements in the place where the water come from, which is an expensive social and ecological cost in water supply for tourism industries.

Secondly, political-economy of tourism is using double standard. Political economy of tourism influenced by neo-liberalism doctrine that need the absence of state (government) intervention on economic and investment, and privatization all human needs. But in other hand, it needs the role of the state to be in the front line on tourism promotion and self-finance from public fund to do the promotion. If government shift those amount of public fund to do ecological restoration and strengthening people basic needs it will be more meaningful for our security.

Thirdly, mass tourism has been exist in Bali for dozen years but there is no guarantee on human security and environmental justice to be fulfilled. Unfortunately, the problems become more complex. Conflicts for livelihood and land tenure that occupied by state as the gift for the empire of the capital for built tourism infrastructures, culture com-modifications, environmental injustices, innocent child be the victims of sex abused, and spread of HIV/ AIDS to the small island, Nusa Lembongan. We need to take into account how much money we need to spent to solve these problems compare to how much we get from tourism. So we can say we are win or lost in this tourism game.

Marginalized Local People
Global threat is not less than local one. Global warming and climate change threats small islands, included Bali. It is no doubt that tourism in Bali has a big contribution to release green house gases emission to the atmosphere that created global warming and climate change. Although that is big environmental issue in global level, but there is no sense of crises from government to tackle that issue. Again and again, business as usual plan.

There is no perspective on climate change mitigation to reduce the activity that release green house gas emission. In transportation network plan we can see that the main focus is about roads, to maintain the old road and to build the new one, with traffic jam as the basic argumentation that we need more roads. Everybody knows that traffic jam is driven by no such a proper public transportation system, so citizen wants to get their private car just like what television offers to us.

We can imagine how Bali looks like in the next 20 years. More traffic jam, pollution, full of commercial site will be the common view and, of course, urban area is not for poor people but for the riches and their cars. Because our politics on spatial management is not to solve the roots of the problems and has no dream of humanistic urban area. Although we know that the biggest income for Bali is come from car and other vehicle taxation, but we need a new vision not only just an income.

If the prediction that told us in 2030 sea level will raise six meters become real, it means that will be biggest erosion in Bali's coastal area. It is difficult to imagine how the condition of fishermen in Bali's coastal who will lose their livelihood and have no chance to move to the saver place. Of course, they have no money to buy a land in Bedugul to continue their life, because Bedugul is a saver place to develop the new tourism site and that is why it will have a high economic value.

Balinese farmers have the same future. Now days the farmers have no protection on controlling their livelihood. No policy to make some site as a permanent rice field in Bali shows the government character that see agriculture and food issues is lower priority than tourism development. The politics to build new roads, new airport, real-estate speculations, infrastructures for tourism expansion will effect agriculture. Unpredictable weather for cropping, water stress, high land taxation, land conversion to expand tourism infrastructure will be the threats to farmers and will drive us far away from food sovereignty.

The question is, is that the spatial plan created to give no space for the poor, fishermen or farmers to live in this land? That is why they have to displace from their livelihood because Bali is setting up become a colony for tourists and riches. So, spatial plan is not only talk about how much space to be allocated in technical manner. But also a political act that shows how the dominant paradigm of the ruling elite in order to give more space to the economic profit accumulation.

Environmental Justice Activist
Bali Chapter of WALHI/ Friends of the Earth