ASEAN diplomats learn Balinese art and culture

18 July, 2011 | Source: The Jakarta Post

Diplomats from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) visited Bali Monday for a four-day trip exploring and learning more about the island’s art and cultural backgrounds as well as social and security issues.

After studying arts at the Antonio Blanco Museum in Ubud and Kintamani resort, the 11 participants of the third Diplomatic Training on Development of the ASEAN Community met with Governor Made Mangku Pastika at his office.

“Bali is the island of tolerance. After the Bali Bombings; no anger, no conflict. We have had large ceremonies after the bombings. We asked for mercy from God. Don’t fight against violence. Just try to understand. That is the philosophy,” Pastika explained to the Hindu Tri Hita Karana philosophy of tolerance and harmony.

Pastika also warned against the threat of terrorism, although many suspects had been arrested and prosecuted.

“Terrorism is an ideological issue. We have to pay close and serious attention to this,” the governor said.

Bali has been attacked by terrorist bombs twice after Pastika boasted how the Balinese people showed resilience in the face of such violence.

“They [the Balinese people] were very sad, but not angry. They succumbed to the will of God and Nature and asked for forgiveness by holding a series of rituals to cleanse the island of devilish influences,” Pastika recalled.

The participants also asked about how Bali approached social problems, including security, traffic problems and other issues.

Eko Hartono, director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s School of Diplomats, told the Jakarta Post that the Bali visit was aimed at enriching the participating diplomats with the arts and culture of Indonesia — Bali in particular.

“One of the ASEAN Community’s backbones is social, cultural and economic issues,” Hartono said.

Among the participants were diplomats from four new members of ASEAN; Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, as well as diplomats from Timor Leste and Papua New Guinea as observers.

“Timor Leste is now in the process of becoming a new member of ASEAN. That is why we invited diplomats from this country to take part in this activity,” Hartono added.

One of the challenges faced by the ASEAN Community establishment was the wide gap of diplomatic skills and knowledge between the six founding countries and new members.

“We have tried to carry out various capacity building activities among diplomats, especially those coming from the new member countries,” he said.

 

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