Bali Peace Park – Far from a done deal
Almost 20 years after a terrorist bomb killed 202 people and injured dozens more on October 12, 2002, the owner of the 560 square meter plot of land at No. 66 Jalan Legian in Kuta, which once housed the unfortunate Saree Club, reportedly agreed to sell the land for Rp. 45 billion.
If the final sale goes through, it will pave the way for a memorial park to honor the victims of the bombing amidst the traditionally bustling heart of Kuta’s nightlife area.
MSN.com. detik.com, and many Indonesian media reports that Indonesian businessman, Sukamto Tjia has signed “a sales agreement » the land at the agreed price equivalent to approximately US$5,800 per square meter.
Countdown when finalizing the sale
The document signed by Sukamto is not a sale agreement but a formal offer to sell the land providing for the payment of an amount equivalent to approximately $3.2 million before the end of March 2022.
In 2019, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised to consider government aid for the purchase if a “approximate figure” the price agreement was already underway.
If the funds were secured in time for the fast approaching deadline, it would mark the end of two decades of disputes and contention surrounding the controversial project. Internal arguments within the BPPA on how to continue efforts to secure the site precipitated the resignation and departure of the group’s Australian founder, Dallas Jackson-Finn, who decided to go it alone and try to broker a deal on the plot with its owner Indonesian.
Quoted by MSN.Com, Jackson-Finn said, “We are approaching the 20th anniversary, so I think it will be of great importance to have this park there instead of looking at a vacant block of land.” Continuing, Jackson-Finn added, “This is prime commercial real estate. We factored in lost earnings, compensation and that works out to about 17 cents per Australian.
Jackson-Finn and the BPPA once envisioned the creation of a beautiful meditative garden at the side of a normally busy street in a now vacant lot bordered on three sides by shops. The vacant lot is located just a few meters from the Ground Zero Monument where are inscribed the names and nationalities of the 202 people who died in the 2002 bombing. Another short distance stands the reopened Paddy’s bar which was also targeted by bombers.
Back to the questions posed: will the substantial sum of money be found before the March deadline, as well as the additional amount needed to build and develop the peace park? The question also arises as to who would become the “new owner” of the proposed park for the vacant land?
Prime Minister Morrison’s offer “to consider” the project falls far short of a firm commitment from the Australian government to guarantee the full amount needed to close the deal. In the past, former prime ministers Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd have both pledged US$450,000 for plans to buy the Sari Club website. Other pledges of support have also been made in the past by Australian territorial governments. Whether those past promises still hold remains to be seen.
Australia’s federal opposition is pushing the government to spend ‘sufficient funds in the budget’ and working with the Indonesian government and other stakeholders to secure the ground before the end-March deadline so that plans of the park can continue as the 20th anniversary of the October bombing approaches.
Backbench MP Luke Gosling said the 88 Australians who died and many more were injured in the 2002 bombing “must not be forgotten”. Gosling added: “The shelling was horrible. Australia and Indonesia have a long history together and it is in the national interest to have a Bali Peace Park built on the site of the Sari Club as a living memorial.
The possibility of closing the deal and building the proposed peace park is further complicated by the BPPA dissolution. Prior to its dissolution, a BPPA Spokespersonn said he had “terminated his interest in acquiring the land following protracted negotiations and indicated that the funds committed by the Australian Government would not be required”.
Before dissolving the association and abandoning Bali Peace Park Project, the BPPA had accused the owner of the land of demanding in an “outrageous” manner a sale price well above the market value of the land.
During the negotiation with the owner, the ex-spouse BPPA founder, Dallas Jackson-Finn, surprisingly came to the defense of the Club Saree owner of the plot offering a price which included compensation for lost income over the past two decades in addition to the cost of purchasing the land. Jackson-Finn challenged the BPPA for portraying Sukamto Tjia and his son, Ronald, as “greedy,” claiming that the owner of the land was a businessman entitled to fair compensation in connection with the proposed sale and any lost income over the past two decades.
The current design of Bali Peace Park Association (BPPA) includes a mural depicting the tragedy and a “reflection corner” where visitors can pause and quietly reflect on the event and its victims. Assuming the money to purchase the site can be secured before the end of March, further questions arise as to who or what organization will be the new legal owner of the land and where the funds will come from. additional funds for the development, perpetual conservation and maintenance of the park.
Bali Peace Park – far from a “done deal”.