The ongoing movement to convince the central government to grant special autonomy status to the resort island received support from members of the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) on Monday.
“I support 100 percent the political movement to get Bali special autonomy, or special territory, status. Whichever the best status arrangement is, the island surely needs a new status to cope with the many problems caused by the enactment of the Regional Autonomy Law,” DPD committee I chairman, Alirman Sori, said during a meeting with Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika and several prominent figures.
The meeting was held by the DPD to gather input from the Balinese on special autonomy. The visiting DPD members will also meet the island’s religious and customary village leaders, as well as NGOs.
Alirman revealed that the proposal for Bali’s special autonomy status had actually been included in the 2004-2009 national legislation program (Prolegnas).
The Prolegnas lists top issues that members of the House of Representatives (DPR) must turn into new legislation. “After nine long years, the proposal has yet to be discussed [by the DPR]. We truly deplore this and we are committed to push this important issue,” he said.
The special autonomy movement is not a recent phenomenon. Public pressure to have special autonomy status began several years ago.
In 2005, a number of prominent politicians and academics launched a campaign to push for special autonomy. The special status was proposed to the central government to allow the provincial authority to create and issue regulations regarding its natural resources, including land use, religious and cultural assets. The central government, however, considered this proposal a minor issue.
The movement was triggered mainly by the perceived unfair treatment suffered by the resort island in the hands of the central government. The island’s politicians and scholars demanded a bigger share for the island from the tourism revenue. They pointed out how Ngurah Rai International Aiport and Benoa port sent nearly all their profits to the central government.
In recent years, especially in the aftermath of the enactment of the regional autonomy law, a growing number of the island’s scholars demanded that the special autonomy status should also include a provision that places most of the authority on the governor, instead of the regents as stipulated by the law. The regional autonomy law prevents the governor from effectively managing the tiny island in an integrated and holistic way.
As of now, there are only four provinces in Indonesia that have special status, namely Jakarta and Yogyakarta as special territories and Aceh and Papua with special autonomy.
Pastika hoped that the DPD could help formulate the best autonomy concept for Bali.
“The current regional autonomy concept has caused a wide development gap and the rise of many ‘small kings’ here on the island, and I think it is not good for Bali,” he said, referring to the regents, who often openly oppose his policies.
The existing regional autonomy law gives most of the power and authority to the mayor and regents. One of the worst impacts of this policy is the fact that each regency pursues a partial development policy without considering its impact on the island as a single entity.
New hotels continue to be built despite the governor’s hotel moratorium initiative in early 2011 banning further hotel construction in southern Bali’s three richest regions: Denpasar, Badung and Gianyar.
Despite continuous warnings from the provincial administration, the Denpasar mayor, and Badung and Gianyar regents publicly rejected and ignored the moratorium and the bylaw on spatial planning.