The bhisama, issued in 1994 by Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia, Balinese Hinduism’s highest authority, was initially not legally binding and served more as a religious guideline.
Following its inclusion in the 2009 bylaw, the bhisama did have limited legal effect, but the PHDI has pointed out that district heads are now trying to amend the zoning bylaw to allow for commercial development within the five-kilometer radius.
PHDI chief Ida Pedanda Sebali Tianyar said on Wednesday that any violations of the bhisama could eventually lead to the “destruction of Balinese culture.”
“We cannot allow the interests of a handful of investors to wreck the future of Balinese culture,” he said.
“We demand that Bali’s legislators reject a request filed by investors with the Supreme Court [on the matter] as well as attempts by district heads in Bali to amend the 2009 bylaw.”
He said the heads of Badung, Gianyar, Karangasem, Tabanan, Klungkung and Bangli districts had officially forwarded the request to amend the bylaw to the legislative council.
A member of the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) from Bali, I Wayan Sudirta, said he was aware of the effort.
“I am very aware of the workings of these district heads,” he aid. “During the election campaigns it was clear that investors were backing them. Now, apparently, it’s payback time and investors are demanding that the district heads make good on their promises.”
Gianyar district head Tjok Oka Artha Ardana Sukawati said the request was not a direct rejection of the bhisama.
“It basically lists out our concerns as heads of districts, and that we feel we may not be able to follow through or comply with the zoning bylaw,” Ardana Sukawati said.
The protesters against the bylaw amendment also demanded that the Balinese provincial administration provide incentives — such as waiving property taxes — for families living near temples, to encourage them not to sell their land to developers.
Speaking separately, the head of Bali’s Customary Village Council, Jero Gede Putu Suwena, said the bylaw should be strengthened to protect Bali from being overrun by project developers.