IT’S NOW THREE YEARS SINCE THE TRAGIC NIGHT OF OCTOBER 12, WHEN TERRORISTS BOMBED THE SARI CLUB AND PADDY’S IN CENTRAL KUTA KILLING 202 INNOCENT PEOPLE AND IN THE PROCESS PLUNGING BALI INTO ONE OF THE DARKEST MOMENTS OF ITS HISTORY. In the aftermath, local and international donors, and governments poured money and energy into the regeneration of Bali, which came in many different ways, like, in the first weeks, entertainment programs, a multitude of highly visible police vans, Yayasans (Foundations) to support bomb victims, the Kuta Small Business Assoc, the Kuta Karnival, the Bali Bomb Memorial on the site across from the Sari Club and major projects like The 12 October Australia Memorial Centre, located within the Sanglah Hospital grounds in Denpasar, which opened on 22 July, 2004. The Centre comprises a post-operative 14 bed Intensive Care Unit, a six bed Intensive Coronary Care Unit, and a 15 bed Burns Unit with a dedicated Operating Theatre. It was donated by the Australian people.
Another project that was initiated soon after the bomb was the Bali Peace Park which was to be built on the Sari Club site. The organization behind the park has worked with local and foreign groups in an attempt to develop the area into a place of peace, sanctuary and reflection. Their purpose, as spelt out on their website: www.balipeacepark.com, is simple. “To buy the Sari Club and Paddy’s Bar areas to create the Bali Peace Park, to provide space in central Kuta for families and individuals for enjoyment and meditation. The aim is to take the barren ground of the Sari Club and Paddy’s site to create a place of beauty. The property would be gifted to the Indonesian people with the message of peace, with a trust fund to employ local Balinese to maintain the grounds and the memorial.”
Having a green-grassed park in the center of Kuta is a fantastic idea and is sure to be well appreciated by locals and visitors and besides being a place of reflection, it will no doubt be an instant tourist attraction.
Since it’s now three years after the bomb we wanted to find out what exactly is going on down there in the center of Kuta. Both sites are still vacant, except for the parking lot that recently sprung up on the old Paddy’s site, but not much else appears to be moving.
The Bali Peace Park organization is based out of Perth, Western Australia and we contacted one of the founders, Dallas Finn, for some further information.
WHAT’S THE TIME LINE FOR COMPLETION OF THE PARK?
Completion of the Peace Park will depend on the outcome on fund raising. We are currently in talks with an Australian TV network but we can’t say too much at this stage. In regards to funding we already have a considerable amount raised. The budget we are looking at to purchase, build the park and maintain it, is around 2 million Australian dollars.
WHERE IS THE MONEY COMING FROM?
In regards to funding for the site we are currently looking at different avenues for the funding, e.g. corporate as well as through the general public.
WHAT STUMBLING BLOCKS HAVE YOU COME ACROSS IN THE MAKING OF THIS PROJECT?
One of the hardest things we encountered was the locating of the owner of the land, which we now have and they have agreed to sell. We are still negotiating the price for the land but they have agreed to sell.
WHAT KIND OF ASSISTANCE HAVE YOU RECEIVED FROM THE GOVERNMENT BODIES?
I met with Kevin Rudd, Shadow Minister For Foriegn Affairs (Australia) and Alexander Downer’s Senior aide (Minister For Foreign Affairs) and the local Bupati and pretty much got some good feed back. We have been working closely with the Desa-Adat Kuta (Traditional Village Administration) who have been fantastic and the crew at Yayasan GUS who have been amazing with there dedication to the project and helping us out on things, both big and small.
General Mangku Pastika has been great, putting his support behind us, and Fiona Wood - Australian of the year 2005, is another great person whom we have on board to help raise awareness of the project. I think people need to know there is a lot of preparation into this, hence its taking a little longer than we first thought but we will get there in the end.
AND HOW ABOUT THE PROJECT, WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL BE THE OVERALL RESULT COMING FROM IT?
This peace park will send a positive message to the rest of the world and it will be able to give something back to a community so devastated by the tragedy. We have to remember that it was not only about the lives lost and we have to acknowledge the survivors, rescuers and volunteers, as well. The Bali Peace Park will also send out a message of peace to the global community in which we all live and at the same time, send a message to the terrorists.
WHAT’S THE NEXT STEP AT THIS STAGE?
We are currently seeking corporate sponsorship in regards to funding a small office in Bali. Currently, we have been sharing an office with Yayasan GUS. In regards to the time frame for the peace park we are looking at by the latest the 5th anniversary. You have to understand the considerable work involved.
Mr Dallas Finn can be contacted by going to www.balipeacepark.com
There is Memorial Service planned at the Bali Bomb Memorial on Jl. Legian to mark the third anniversary of the Bali Bombings at 8.00 am on October 12, 2005.