A Bali peace park would not be a shrine, just a nice park
Bali has moved on from the bomb: Indonesians don’t really dwell on disasters.
In the eight years since the tragedy, the Sari Club site has become ground zero for a different sort of terror - that of extreme ugliness.
The memorial built there in 2005 in the Gianyar Gothique style is surrounded by girly bars of the Bangkok type and, on most days, by lots of yobs in Bir Bintang T-shirts brandishing stubbies. A community park anywhere in downtown Kuta would be a godsend.
Shortly after the 2002 Bali Bomb, a determined group of Kuta-based citizens - most prominently Indonesian activist Asana Viebeke Lengkong, entrepreneur/philanthropist Stephen Palmer and screamer-chops suffragette Dallas Finn (Spokesperson) - started the push for a Peace Park.
The Peace Park Association, now under different management (including many survivors), with Dr. Fiona Wood as patron and the Australian and Bali Governments behind it, has the Sari Club land owner at the bargaining table (no mean feat) and a real chance of achieving its goal.
The kick off at the Australian Consulate Bali was well-organized and well attended by all of the island’s Consuls General and a good representation from local government.
The evening’s most moving speech - which reminded all present of the special ‘mateship’ bond between many Australian and their Balinese buddies - was by Jan Laczynski who lost five Balinese mates in the terrorist attack.
He presented an original vintage SARI CLUB T-shirt - the one which he had worn to trial of the bombers - to the Peace Park Museum.
The small museum is a big part of the Peace Park’s design programme: any thoughts of the Sari Club becoming a ‘shrine’ were dispelled by this touching act of generosity: so many people want to preserve the memory of their mates without building another stiff memorial.
A park with a contemplation corner - in the tradition of Anzac parks in many country towns in Australia, but in the Balinese style - would be a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives.
As an exercise in environmental management it would also represent a piece of garden-loving Australia, in the heart of the urban sprawl that has engulfed Kuta.
The only gardens left in Kuta, apart from Hotel gardens, are in the family house temples that take up approximately a quarter of every Balinese home.
The Kuta Peace Park is designed to be a garden to lift the spirits too - with meditation corners for different faiths - but it is not a shrine.
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