From Chaos to Tourism Development
The Dutch, complacent in their cocoon of colonial supremacy, were shocked when the Japanese invaded the Indies in 1942, so shocked that they gave up with hardly a fight. More shocking still to the colonialists was the fact that after the war the majority of Indonesians failed to welcome their former rulers back with open arms. Revolution! and Freedom! had instead become rallying cries around the archipelago, and these were taken up with fierce determination by the Balinese.
Those who had come to believe in colonial "peace and order" and in "Bali The Paradise" were appalled by the intensity of violence and social divisions which wracked Bali in subsequent decades, from the beginning of VAVII until the middle of the 1960s. In many ways the violence was worse here than in any other part of Indonesia, a situation which had its roots in the way that the Dutch had ruled Bali, and the fierce pride and independence of the Balinese people themselves.
Japanese rule, brief as it was, was a period of increasing hardship punctuated by torture and killings. Although the Japanese had initially been welcomed as liberators, members of the Balinese upper class soon found themselves bearing the brunt of a campaign of terror designed to beat them into submission. Military requirements for rice and other products also dictated that the niceties of wooing the Balinese masses into devotion to the Japanese cause eventually gave way to harsher measures.
As the war dragged on and Japan's position became precarious, most Balinese suffered from serious shortages of all basic necessities. At the same time, Balinese youths were radicalized by being made to join paramilitary organizations with strong nationalistic overtones. When the Japanese surrendered, a few Balinese did welcome the Dutch back, but many others acted swiftly to seize the Japanese weapons and take up the struggle for independence. As the Dutch prepared to return with the triumphant Allied forces, preparations were made on Bali for a violent "welcome for the uninvited guests."
Bali's foremost revolutionary was Gusti Ngurah Rai, who led a brave but badly outnumbered and outgunned guerilla group. Some 1400 Balinese fighters died in the struggle, but with few resources Ngurah Rai was defeated and killed. Bali then became the headquarters of the new State of Eastern Indonesia, which the Dutch hoped to later merge into a pro-Dutch federation. Even this state, under the leadership of the Gianyar ruler, Anak Agung Gede Agung (later Foreign Minister of the Republic), turned against the Dutch when they broke their treaty with the fledgling Republic, and so contributed to the achievement of full independence in 1949.
Mayhem and mass murder
Throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, social divisions which had crystallized during the Revolution continued to widen. Political conflicts and assassinations were rife - the key split being between those who favored the old caste system and traditional values, and those who rejected the caste system as a form of aristocratic "feudalism" designed to oppress the majority. By the mid-1960s the conflict had taken political form as a contest between the Indonesian Nationalist Party (PMI) and the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI). Attempts by the latter to organize a program of land reform exacerbated the already high level of rhetoric and bad feelings, and both sides organized rallies and pressed Balinese to chose one side or the other.
On September 30th, 1965, an unsuccessful coup in Jakarta resulted in a takeover of the government by pro-Western military leaders under General Suharto. In the wake of the coup, a tidal wave of killings swept Java and Bali, as the military sought first to dismantle the extensive structure of the PKI, and rightist supporters then turned this campaign into one of wholesale slaughter. As many as 500,000 Indonesians died, and up to a fifth of them - 5 per cent of the island's population at the time - may have been Balinese.
Most Balinese have family or friends who were involved in the conflict in one way or another, but few will talk about it today, so extensive and brutal were the killings. One journalist wrote, "For the next three months [November 1965 to January 1966] Bali became a nightmare... There is no one living in Bali now who does not have a neighbor who was killed and left unburied by the black devils with red berets [followers of the PNI] who roamed about at the time."
A quiet military leader, Suharto emerged as President of Indonesia. His "New Order" government has provided a long period of stability and development, in sharp contrast to the chaotic Sukarno years that preceded it, providing basic health care, food, housing and education to a rapidly growing population of over 190 million people.
Bali has played a key role in Indonesia's recent development. The tourist "paradise" begun by the Dutch has been revised and given modern form, providing a lucrative income for many thousands of Balinese and significant amounts of foreign exchange for the nation.
Under the leadership of Ida Bagus Mantra, a Brahman religious scholar and educationalist who became Bali's governor in 1978, the island's tourist development was relatively steady and controlled throughout the 1980s.
end of the 20th century brought great changes to Indonesia, with the downfall
of the Suharto regime and the arrival of democratic elections. Bali's
challenge, in this era of newfound political and economic freedom, is
to control the island's cultural changes in the face of expanding mass
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