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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        7  April 2011

Bali Confronts Its Problems

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While most Indonesian government officials seem allergic to criticism, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika said on Wednesday that he had no problem with Time magazine labeling the island a “hellish” holiday destination.

“We cannot deny it. It is a fact,” Pastika said “If Bali is allowed to continue [like this], it will become hell for tourists.”

In an April 1 article titled “Holidays in Hell: Bali’s Ongoing Woes,” Andrew Marshall examined the various problems faced by the resort island, from garbage to beach pollution and traffic congestion.

The magazine article covered similar issues to those uncovered in a Bali Tourism Office survey that found one of the first complaints tourists made after arriving in Bali was that litter was out of control, Pastika said.

“It is true that we are dirty, much more than other countries,” he said.

Pastika also said he had received numerous complaints about the island’s increasingly congested traffic, including from participants at the annual meeting of the Asian Development Bank in May 2009.

He asked Balinese people not to become offended by the article or send letters of protest or rebuttal to the magazine.

“The facts are there and Time only wrote what it saw,” Pastika said. “It is a magazine with a high level of credibility. We should look at this as a chance for introspection.”

He said he hoped the report would open Balinese people’s eyes to the problems that urgently needed to be addressed.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

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