April 7th, 2009
I would like to on an editorial titled: “Bali’s example”, (the Post, March 25, p. 6). Perhaps we need to remember that Bali’s culture, excluding the Bali Aga, was born in East Java. The traditions, culture and religion so enjoyed by visitors to Bali as a visual spectacle is a representation of the glorious Majapahit Empire.
With due respect to Islam, imagine Java today had Hinduism remained. Islamic expression in the 21st century is just not very pretty, unlike during its golden era when the Blue Mosque was built and Islamic scholars of science, literature and music led the world’s discoveries. That was also around the time the religion was making its way across Asia.
Tourists also need to realize maintaining Balinese traditions is extremely expensive, with often a family’s lands sold off to pay for cremations. I was in a small food shop (warung) recently; kids sweating it out in Barong costumes were busking for the upkeep of the Barong. A young female tourist adjacent refused to give these kids a single rupiah. worse, she ignored their very existence. So just how valued is Balinese tradition?
We also need to recognize the daily birthing of the universe in Bromo, the sheer scale and history of Lake Toba and the Batak people, the Bugis and Toraja of Sulawesi, the weavers of Flores, the Dayak of Kalimantan, the rare and marvelous Minang women of Padang, who despite their Islamic religion, choose to rule the family roost. The people of Aceh province, who got a kick out of the sweat-saturated frog on my head parading itself as jilbab - explaining jilbab is totally unnecessary for nonMuslims.
Fact: 99.9 percent of Indonesians are open, friendly, helpful and most often honest to the core - try saying that about the people of many other nations. Fact: Indonesia is home to 240 million extraordinary people and for Western governments to see them rise and develop confidence in their nation and their diversity, would be a threat too great to bear - lost forever would be cheap labor and an Asian scapegoat.
Certainly, there is lots of lunacy out there - a Sunday drive will display that, but Indonesia is not doing too badly if you ask me - just try governing a developing nation spread across 17,500 islands, with hundreds of ethnicities and 240 million people.
Unlike the so-very-well-developed United States, Indonesia does have a financial safety net for the poor, free medical services and hospitalization for the poor - who make up at least 19 percent of the nation, so that’s a few rupiah well spent; the nation also has communities and families that still care for each other. So as Indonesians and foreigners, let’s give the country a pat on the back, instead of a kick in the guts and support Bali’s cultural traditions and those of many hundreds in other parts of the nation.
Source: The Jakarta Post
Entry Filed under: Bali Tourism News