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This is the email I sent which makes me a spy according to the Balinese police !

To: List hidden (but did NOT include Bali Discovery Tours)
Sent: Saturday, November 16, 2002 12:13 PM
Subject: My Bali visit - not good, not good at all.


Hi (individual recipient names not shown)

I did not tell many people, but I actually came to Bali for 9 days on the 4th November. I wanted to see for myself just how things were, especially about what was being done security wise to protect the island. I have to tell you, sorry, but I was horrified.

When I flew out of Phuket and then Singapore, security was tight. Every bag was searched. People were screened twice. In Bali, the x-ray machine attendant was reading a book, and the only bags the Customs officers looked at were my duty free bags to see if they could make some money off me.

I spoke to people who had boarded internal flights from Java and Flores to Bali, and they said there was absolutely no security at either end. When I went to Sideman to buy some songket, I went down to Padang Bai. I was told previously that the ports now had really tight security. There was no security there and I have the photos to prove it. Five policeman were in their little office talking, but did not scrutinize any of the vehicles / people coming off.

I am sorry, but will all the best will in Bali, this will not stop terrorists from coming there. And I fear next time it could be worse. With such appalling security at the airports, I can easily imagine a highjacked Merpati flight crashing into a major hotel in Kuta, Sanur or Nusa Dua. I also believe it is dangerous to go to tourist areas such as bars, shops and restaurants. As not enough has been done to reduce the risk of another terrorist cell bringing another car bomb over.

I think it is irresponsible to tell people it is safe in Bali. Sure, nowhere is safe anymore, but you do what you can to make things as safe as possible. This is clearly not happening in Bali. I can tell you, I feel a lot safer in Thailand then I do in Bali, you can see the security here. Are the Police in Bali mounting road blocks? No, they are sitting lazily in their little boxes or escorting bus loads of people to ceremonies for a fee.

I think telling the world Bali is safe is foolish. I believe that if tourists believe this, the people who say it may become guilty of their future murders. I also believe, if Bali is hit by a big terrorist attack again, it will never recover. Besides that, I believe people (tourists) are not fools, and actually will avoid Bali if they feel they are being sold / lied to. Which I believe they are right now. I love Bali. My wife is Balinese. I own a resort in Bali. I have invested in my reservations business for Bali. I want Bali to recover for many reasons. Not least for the Balinese people themselves. But I am so worried.

Please. If you agree with me, do something now. Don't tell people Bali is safe. Tell the government to make Bali safe and then tell the guests the truth. Bali is an island. It only has 4 main ports. How difficult is it to make Bali a safe haven where people feel and are genuinely safe. This is not about politics. This is just about common sense. Please, if you agree. Tell your local government representative to act now. Perhaps even make the tourist areas such as Jl Legian a pedestrian precinct, with very limited delivery vehicle access. Something needs to be done for Bali's sake.

I know the local Banjars are doing their best. But island security should not be their responsibility. It should be the responsibility of a Police and Customs force that cares about the island, not their pockets. And simply checking for KTP cards is not enough. Amrozi has a valid KTP card - would that have stopped him?! And KTP cards are often sold illegally. Search the people, search the vehicles, get rid of the bad officers.

Thanks for listening.

Regards
Mark

PS - If any hotel has special security precautions in place, I would love to hear about them to try and promote that hotel during these difficult times. But please, do not just say "We have extra security". Please tell me what (e.g. "We have closed our car park and doubled the number of guards") so I can pass this on.

PPS - If any hotel has continued to keep all their staff on full time, please tell me. As I will also promote the hotels that are looking after their Balinese staff like this.

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