Khabar Southeast Asia

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Bali beefs up security for regional summit

By Aditya Surya for Khabar Southeast Asia in Jakarta

March 19, 2013

Indonesia police patrol near the memorial for the 2002 Bali bombing victims on October 11th, 2012. Bali is stepping up security ahead of October's APEC Summit [Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP]

Indonesia police patrol near the memorial for the 2002 Bali bombing victims on October 11th, 2012. Bali is stepping up security ahead of October's APEC Summit [Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP]

Residents of Bali are pleased to see major security preparations under way on the island as Indonesia gets ready to host the 2013 Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) Summit there in October.

Police conducted a simulated security threat in the capital city, Denpasar, on February 28th, complete with motorcycle officers zigzagging through a VIP motorcade to trigger evasive driving techniques, as part of preparations.

"It is important for us to secure Bali and also to ensure the security of special meetings such as APEC," Denpasar resident I Wayan Wiratna Hendrawan told Khabar Southeast Asia.

"The exercise was also witnessed by the public. I think it is a good idea. This sends a message to the public that Bali is improving its security," he said.

Intensive training for police

The summit, to be held October 5th to 7th at Nusa Dua in south Bali, will be attended by representatives of 23 countries, including many heads of state and governments. It is the first international event of this scale in Bali since the bombings of 2002 and 2005.

Bali Police Chief Inspector General Arif Wachyunadi plans to increase controls at all entrances to the island and along main protocol routes before and during the summit. Extensive security inventories, planning and training are under way.

The police have conducted exercises based on a variety of scenarios. One exercise focused on whisking heads of states and minister-level officials on "VIP escapes" to neighbouring West Nusa Tenggara.

A message of peace

Although locals will never forget the attacks of 2002 and 2005, they believe their response in the years since shows the terrorists did not accomplish their goals.

"If the purpose of terrorism is to ruin the country, they failed. The terrorism in Bali has brought the country closer together. Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists are united to condemn the attacks and violence in Bali," said I Ketut Arka, the former director of a community empowerment organisation, Maha Boga Marga (MBM), in Denpasar.

"We are united to defend our democracy, freedom, and tolerance," he added.

Ni Nyoman Handayani, a graduate student living in Kuta, said Bali will be able to recover further with the APEC summit. She herself lost a relative in the 2002 attack on nightclubs in Kuta that killed 202 people and injured more than 200.

"Tourism in Bali has been down significantly since various attacks in 2002. It is improving each year. After a decade, people are more confident coming here, and the tourism sector has been recovering. However, the pain due to the loss of our family members is obviously still here," she said.

"I think it is a good sign for Balinese to host the APEC. It will not only help heal the wounds, but will also bring our confidence back so that we are all living in tolerance and harmony."

Handayani hopes the APEC summit will send a message of peace to the world.

"Bali is not only welcoming the state leaders of the APEC summit. We are welcoming everyone who wants to enjoy the paradise. We condemn any form of intolerance or terrorism on our land," she said.

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