Communities in Canggu have rallied to seek justice for a 70-year-old man who was the victim of a verbally abusive attack from a tourist renting one of his rooms. Late last week, a video recording of the incident went viral on local community groups. A Balinese businesswoman Niluh Djelantik saw the story online and visited the community to help mitigate the situation.
In the video, a tourist, now known to be from Lebanon, can be seen and heard screaming at an elderly Balinese man. The two are in the parking area of a boarding house, and the tourist is sitting astride a white moped, edging towards the front gate. The foreigner can be heard shouting, ‘you tidak [don’t] respect tourist, you tidak respect tourist…we’re done?! Finished’ before angrily driving away.
The elderly man does respond though what he says cannot be heard in the video. He takes a calm posture and does not appear flustered by the situation. It is believed that the Lebanese man failed to pay his rent on time and that this outburst occurred when the landlord asked for the rent. The video is recorded from the balcony or window on the second floor of the accommodation complex in Canggu.
*this video contains explicit language
The Head of Information Section of the Immigration Office Special Class I Ngurah Rai, I Putu Suhendra, told reporters that the police are aware of the situation and have been looking for the foreign national since Friday afternoon. Suhendra said ‘It is true that we have immediately taken a stand regarding the viral video. The team has been to the location since the video was published and already knows the location of the incident around Jalan Pantai Berawa’.
*this video contains explicit language
Both the police and local people visited the landlord. It is believed that although the rent was paid late, the misunderstanding escalated because the tenant could not speak sufficient Bahasa Indonesia, nor could the landlord speak much English.
Suhendra confirmed that the financial issues had been put to rest ‘If the foreigner and the owner of the boarding house have reconciled. So, all [outstanding] boarding fees have been paid. After everything is finished, the foreigner chooses to change his place of residence’.
However, that is not the end of the story. The viral video continued to gather momentum over the weekend, and commentators online were horrified at the disrespectful way the tourist had treated the local landlord. Local businesswoman Niluh Djelantik heard about the issue.
She offered her assistance in mediating a conversation between the landlord and the tourist. She made her animosity towards the tourist very clear. Thousands of people online, Indonesian and international, have praised her for taking the opportunity to speak on behalf of the Balinese people.
While local people in Bali are generally positive about the tourism sector, they are becoming increasingly tired and frustrated with tourists who show disrespect. The island may have been a go-to destination for foreigners on holiday for decades, but the increase in incidences of disrespect, and the viral nature of the videos, can create tension between tourists and locals.
Balinese people are very proud of their home, and seeing disrespectful behavior towards their communities, culture, and environment is deeply hurtful. Despite the Lebanese tourist clearing his rental bill, the impact of his disrespect towards his elder landlord cannot be resolved with money. In Bali, it is common for low-level crime or disrespect to be managed through restorative justice, a mediated conversation between two parties toward mutual understanding and resolution.
During the mediation conversation, of which snippets have been shared online, Niluh Djelantik scolds the tourist for his behavior and reminds him that Indonesia is not his home country. She explains how the island has an open door for tourism and gives travelers plenty of freedom to express themselves and even start businesses. That with this in mind, disrespectful behavior can never be justified.
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