The owner of the former Sari Club held a cleansing ceremony on the scene in preparation for the start of construction of a five-floor restaurant and Bali Bomb monument on the rooftop. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro
The owner of the former Sari Club held a cleansing ceremony on the scene in preparation for the start of construction of a five-floor restaurant and Bali Bomb monument on the rooftop. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro

Hope for sacred Sari Club bombing site

THE Governor of Bali has proposed a potential solution to break the impasse over controversial plans to build a five-storey restaurant complex on the Sari Club bomb site in Kuta.

Governor Wayan Koster has suggested pledging a plot of land, 1.5km away, which the Government owns in return for the Sari Club owners handing over the sacred Sari Club site which could pave the way for a peace park and memorial.

The suggestion was floated at a meeting in Bali last night between the Governor, Australian Consul General to Bali, Dr Helena Studdert and representatives of the Bali Peace Park Association and a charity which assists local victims of the 2002 bombings.

The Sari Club's owners were also invited to the meeting but did not attend.

The Bali Governor has now pledged to meet the owners to discuss the issue.

A ceremony planned to mark the turning of the first sod in construction on Wednesday was called off at the last minute when the Government announced work on the construction of a restaurant would cease pending further negotiations.

Controversy erupted when it was revealed that a building permit to allow the site's owners to begin work on the site had been granted - 17 years after the October 2002 bombings which claimed 200 innocent lives, including 88 Australians.

The Australian-based Bali Peace Park Association has been attempting for years to buy or lease the land to build a lasting memorial to the lives lost and has been pledged $900,000 in Australian Government grants to help buy the land.

But negotiations had been stalled for years as the site was used for a car park.

Thiolina Marpaung, who represents local victims of the bombing, attended the meeting late on Wednesday and said the hopes now rested on the Bali Governor.

Two hundred innocent lives were lost in the October 2002 bombings.
Two hundred innocent lives were lost in the October 2002 bombings.

"He (the Governor) said … the Bali provincial administration has a plot of land in Kuta, around 1.5km from the Ground Zero (as the bomb site is known locally), how about hand over that land to Lila Tania (the owner), so that the peace park could be built at the bomb site," Thiolina said.

"I think that's a good idea, that's a good alternative."

Another option floated was to give the alternative land owned by the Bali provincial administration to the BPPA to build a peace park.

But the BPPA wants the park built on the actual bomb site, which holds special significance to victims and their families.

Thiolina said the Governor vowed to continue working on solutions.

"I hope the landowner can accept the solution offered by the Governor to exchange the Sari Club land with the land owned by Bali provincial administration," she said.

The development could be moved to another site paving the way for a peace park and memorial at the former Sari Club site. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro
The development could be moved to another site paving the way for a peace park and memorial at the former Sari Club site. Picture: Lukman S Bintoro

The land owned by the Government is 820 square metres while the Sari Club sits on 1500 square metres, posing one potential hurdle.

Dr Helena Studdert, Australia's Consul General to Bali, attended the meeting and said good discussions had been held and they would continue to work with local authorities to reach a resolution.

Dr Studdert said while the negotiations were private, between the land owners and the BPPA and the local victims group, Istana Dewata, the Australian Government was hopeful the groups would sit down across the table from the owners of the property.

"This is a private negotiation. It is not between the Australian Government … it is just the Bali Peace Park Association and the local yayasan (charity) wishing to sit down with the owner and have a discussion and we are hopeful that that will happen," Dr Studdert said.