Locals divided on golf resort plan

Anton Muhajir, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar | Sat, 10/04/2008 11:34 AM | Bali

Bias Putih is a 300 meter-long strip of white sandy beach flanked by two lush hills in Bugbug village, Karangasem, some two and a half hours drive east of the island’s capital Denpasar.

Its scenic beauty and unspoiled shoreline have drawn an increasing number of visitors, foreign as well as domestic, in the last couple of years.

“Many foreign visitors praised the beach for its deep, crystal blue water,” a local I Gusti Ngurah Cakra said.

Cakra is the owner of Relax, one of the beachside cafes in Bias Putih. Cakra and his wife, Ayu Murniasih, opened the cafe in 2005 following the second terrorist attack that paralyzed the island’s tourism industry, depriving Cakra of his former job as a freelance driver at the island’s tourist haven of Kuta.

There are eight beachside cafes in Bias Putih now and all were built on state-owned plots of land. The cafes’ owners only have permits to use the land on a temporary basis.

Apparently, the end of that temporary status has came much faster than Cakra and the other cafe owners would have expected.

There is a plan to transform the area into an expensive world-class tourism resort comprises an 18-hole golf course on 124 hectares plot of land with swimming pools, shopping arcades and a five-star hotel. The investor is PT Bali Bias Putih, which is owned by Korean businessman, Yu Bong Yi.

The project will be upmarket, straddling two villages, Bugbug and Perasi, costing around Rp 1.427 trillion (about US$157m). The company’s local executive, Candra Gunawan approached the Karangasem administration last July to discuss project start-up.

The cafes will be demolished once the resort’s construction starts.

“If the construction starts then what should we do, what kind of job must we do to sustain the lives of our families?” Cakra asked.

Head of the Desa Pekraman (customary village) Bugbug, I Wayan Mas Suyasa confirmed the existence of the plan, stating that the plan had existed since 1990. The economic crisis had delayed implementation. However, he stressed, the plan would soon be put into operation by a new investor — PT Bali Bias Putih.

The originally proposed investor in the 1990s, Suyasa revealed, had been PT Lupita Pusaka through its subsidiary, PT Sanggraha Bias Putih. Suyasa showed a letter of agreement between the company and the customary village. In the agreement, the company rented the village’s land for a period of 30 years.

“The global economic crisis and the first Gulf War hampered the company’s plan to construct the resort,” Suyasa said.

Enter the new investor, PT Bali Bias Putih with a new 30 year-long land lease. The village has signed the contract and PT Bali Bias Putih’s executives have also promised that they will buy up the remaining years of the old contract from PT Sanggraha Bias Putih. If they do this then PT Bali Bias Putih would have the right to manage the land for 42 years.

As compensation for the right to manage the land, the company will pay an annual rent of up to Rp 600 millions per hectare.

“The lands leased to the company include private property, village property and customary village property,” Suyasa said.

Bugbug village received the proposal on the project some two months ago. Both villages signed an MoU with the investor.

“We have received a cash deposit of Rp 1 billion from the investor as a token of the investor’s seriousness in carrying out the project,” Suyasa stated.

The fund had been distributed to the two villages with Bugbug village receiving Rp 650 millions and Perasi receiving the remaining cash.

“The construction stage hasn’t been started yet because the new investor is still negotiating with the old investor on the old contract,” he added.

Yet, he was optimistic that the project would be started in the near future. The local administration had given the project the green light and the locals had unanimously gave their consent, Suyasa asserted.

It turned out that he wasn’t quite right. Several locals still have reservations about the project. Cakra is one of them. For him, it’s not only a matter of losing his beachside cafe.

“I am worried that a project of this magnitude would significantly alter the atmosphere of this place. I don’t want that my village ends up like Kuta, which no longer has an atmosphere of Bali-ness,” he said.

Another concerned local is I Ketut Pono, an elderly fisherman from Baruna hamlet in Bugbug village. He owns 80 acres of beachside property and refused to rent it to the investor.

“The investor’s offer was too low, only Rp 100 millions per year per acre,” he said of the offer made by the old investor.

The new investor hasn’t made any offer yet. Pono himself had already given his consent to an offer presented by a Dutch national Hendrick S Blom, who was willing to pay Rp 7.2 billion for a 30 year lease of Pono’s property. Pono signed the Letter of Intent on this contract a few months ago. “But I have yet to receive any money,” he said. [end]

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2008/10/04/locals-divided-golf-resort-plan.html

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