The continuous growth in the Balinese tourism industry has led to several controversial developments. One of the biggest public opposition is directed at the Benoa Bay reclamation project approved by the Indonesian central government. it is virtually impossible not to notice the countless flags, banners and street signs that are placed all over Bali and its surrounding islands - TOLAK REKLAMASI BENOA.
Tolak means reject. Reject the reclamation of the Benoa Bay.
The planned tourism development project is said to have a serious impact on the environment as well as the 70 sacred Balinese Hindu sites which include 31 temples currently located in the bay. Many Balinese oppose this idea strongly, expressing their view: TOLAK!
Although officially designated as an environmental buffer zone and green-belt water conservation area, the Benoa Bay became part of a tourist development area when in Dec 2012 the Bali Governor gave permission to PT Tirta Wahana Bali Internasional (TWBI) to manage and develop 838 hectares of land in Benoa Bay over a 30-year period with a possible 20-year extension.
PT TWBI which is owned by powerful tycoon Tommy Winata, plans to reclaim the bay and build luxury tourist facilities, including a Disneyland-like theme park, apartments, hotels, villas, entertainment centers, a hospital and an university campus.
The permission met a strong opposition from the local Balinese people and in 2013 the permission was revoked. However in 2014 then Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono issued Presidential Regulation No. 51/2014 (PERPRES No. 51/2014), which allowed Benoa Bay to be re-designated as a commercial zone.
A Presidential Regulation can only be revised by the Indonesian President. Current President Jokowi can stop the controversial project by issuing a Presidential Decree to return the status of the bay back into being a conservation area. So far, he has not shown any inclination to do so, which has cost him quite a bit of support within the Balinese community.
#ForBALI (Forum Rakyat Bali Tolak Reklamasi) consists of a growing number of organizations and individuals including well respected NGOs, artists and Balinese people concerned with the preservation of their island. The weekly demonstrations organised by countless Banjars (local communities), multiple banners and billboards show the artistic talent as well as the determination of the people to be heard.
The increasing support for the forum shows a growing demand of the Balinese people for a more active role in the future of their island.
This movement has grown consistently. People of all ages and walks of life unite to demonstrate against the Benoa Bay reclamation, which for them is a violation against nature, their spiritual heritage and their rights as Balinese to decide about their future.