The following is an interview I did with Dallas Finn, founder of the Bali Peace Park. It seems a real shame that nothing has been done with the site since the initial plans were created for the park. Whatever feelings you might have about the park and what should be done with the bomb site, I really admire Dallas’ dedication and perseverance with the project.
Can you please tell me how you first got involved in the project?
I came to Bali in the lead up to the 1st anniversary,whilst waiting for friends at the Sari club site I was approached and told the land was up for sale, I raised the idea of purchasing the site to build garden.
What is the current status of the project?
Currently the Association are supposedly in negotiations, the information is very patchy at the moment they seem to be hiding something the Association or trying to cover there asses.
I read that the land was leased to a Balinese bar operator, can you confirm if that ever went through?
Bapak Kadek has a 30 year lease on the land and believe he has every right to build the night club he came up with the money, the Australians have had nearly 7 years to get there act together, I will be seeking to meet with him on my return to Bali.
Have you ever been able to get in direct contact with the owner of the land? Is he willing to sell the land?
Not direct contact I met with his brother inlaw in 2005 in Jakarta and in Bali, then made an offer of approx 1.2 million AUD to sound them out and we also gave them an option of a land swap this was with the help of the Desa-Adat Kuta.
Some people say that there is already the memorial across the road and say that is enough. The Quicksilver surf store has also been built on the site. What purpose do you think the park will serve?
This was never to be a memorial its a peace park…but it would provide a place for people to reflect, regarding the former paddys site we could have also purchased this site as well this came up first in mid 2004 the heads of the village of Kuta and myself met with the owner.
Do you think people will really be able to sit and relax in a park knowing that it was a bomb site?
Yes …if you look at the peace park in Hiroshima in Japan and people go to the bar above the quicksilver shop.
What do you say to people who think that the funds the association is raising could be better used elsewhere in Bali, like hospitals and schools?
If the rumour of 3 million USD for the site is correct yes it could be better spent especially toward education and upgrading schools especially around East Bali.
I know the governor of Bali is behind the project, but do you think this what Balinese really want done with the land?
I approached the now Governor of Bali in 2004 to become the Indonesian patron, which he agreed…I know through my work over the last 7 years the Kuta community believed in what I was doing and am greatly appreciated by all there support.
If the park is built, whose responsibility is it going to be to maintaining it?
This is currently up in the air…I have Yayasan Gelombang Udara Segar an enviromental group with close ties to the village of Kuta on board.
Do you think it would be better to do something with the land right now until the park can be built, even if it is only temporary?
Yes.. it currently is a car park, we planted frangipani trees on the site a number of years ago and organised regular clean ups of the site, the trees were removed when building was about to start on the night club.
How much has money has the association raised already? What would happen to the donations that have been contributed already if the park is never built?
The Association hasn’t raised that much, they wasted most of it on threatening me with legal action a number of months ago.
Has the recent global financial crisis created any problems with raising money for the project?
There’s always been an issue due to not having a confirmed figure and a contract, I personally funded the project for near on 7 years over 100k AUD and am currently in major financial hardship due to the actions of various individuals who over the years have come along to take me down, if you include loss of income the figure is over 300k.
The WA today reported on February 2nd that you were “expelled” from the group? What happened there and are you still directly involved with the project?
Pertaining to my expulsion this was due the direction the Association was going, I stood my ground on cultural and political issues defending the Balinese, the direction they were taking the website and comments made by several board members in the media including the spokesperson whom I must point out has profited through the media by selling there stories in the last 12 months in a magazine here in Australia, they also tried bullying me into signing a power of Attorney in which I had 2 lawyers look over here and was advised not to sign it.
They didn’t even have the respect to tell me to my face of my expulsion they sent me a text message the night before I flew to Bali, that was when I found out the night club was about to be built and through my contacts was able to have the building stopped, this also lead to a meeting between the Australian Consulate and the Governor.
I am still in contact with various stakeholders and Government officials and am will be organising to meet with them in the near future to look at other options.
Is there a point in the future that you will accept that the park may never be built?
Yes now …the park does not have to built there it could be better placed some where else.