Bali Peace Park front-man Dallas Finn has lived in Bali for the last year and a half and spends his time campaigning for his project, which is to develop the sites of the Sari Club and Paddys for a memorial site. Dallas has recently returned from Australia and Jakarta. Here is the latest on his projects.
Baliblog: Dallas since we last met tell us about some of the things that have been happening.
Dallas: Actually we are moving forward and just before Christmas I went to Perth and approached the now Australian of the Year, Dr Fiona Wood, to be our patron of our foundation. She will represent the Australian side so to speak and we have also got General Made Pastika and he will be the patron for the foundation here in Indonesia.
Baliblog: He is the Balinese police guy?
Dallas: Yes. He caught the terrorists, he is the #1 police here and he is very well respected not only by the Indonesian authorities but by the Australian authorities.
I have had a couple of meetings with the Australian consulate letting them know where we are at. Basically we are moving forward and everything should be in place within the next month or 2, but as you know here in Indonesia anything can happen. As I said we will be going to the public to ask for the money.
A non-government organization based in Kuta will be managing the foundation as well as a lot of other environmental work around the island.
Baliblog: So last time we talked the tsunami had not yet happened. How has the tsunami affected your plans, or has it?
Dallas: It did put the wind up me bit, but then I thought No. Its hard to say.
Baliblog: I am going to ask a question that some readers might ask. The question is, would it seem weird for an Australian to give money to a foundation or too attend a remembrance ceremony for around 200 people who were mostly foreigners, when almost a quarter of a million Indonesians have been killed in a disaster more recently?
Dallas: I believe the Peace Park would be of benefit to the Indonesian people giving them hope. I did have a big think about it over the period that it first came to hand about the tsunami. I believe that its just shown what Mother Nature can do and then what man can do as well. I believe than the Peace Park will be a representation of not only giving to the lives that were lost in the Bali bomb, but also giving the people of Indonesia hope and that the Australian people will stand by them side by side.
I do think so many other lives have been lost but what happened here in Bali was man made and I believe that by still doing this park we can send a message not only to the terrorists but to the government and to the world.
Baliblog: Have you had any feedback in that regard, from the families of the victims since the tsunami?
Dallas: No. Its amazing there is major support out there for what we are doing here in Bali you know. We are seeing what mankind can do and we are seeing what Mother Nature can do you know. As I said, I still believe in what I am doing and we are moving forward with it. I mean if the public do not come forward with the money we will look at other options to build the park.
Baliblog: So your main option now is government or public money?
Dallas: I would still like to go through the public and keep the government out of it, but we cannot raise the money by ourselves we will put pressure on the government to contribute to it. The Australian government is giving Indonesia $1 billion in aid.
Baliblog: You know where that is going, someones pocket.
Dallas: That is it you know. I had a meeting in Jakarta last week with the Australian ambassador, Peter Rogue who is just below the ambassador and I put it too him, you guys are giving Indonesia $1 billion in aid why dont you kill 2 birds with 1 stone here? As I said I got pretty much shrugged out at the time. What with people lobbying the Australian government if that is the way. Other options are corporate. We can approach Australian mining companies based here in Indonesia. We are not too worried about finding them money.
Baliblog: Give us an update on the land.
Dallas: I will be meeting with the owner of the Paddys site to start negotiations and we are in talks with the owner of the Sari Club.
Baliblog: So you found him? Where is the bugger? ( the owner was previously uncontactable).
Dallas: He is in hiding somewhere. We do not know. The village of Kuta did their best to try to locate this guy and we have a go between to contact him. We have also got a public relations company on board, Capture Media which is going to handle the PR with the foundation, they are based in Perth. We are working very closely with one of the networks, I do not want to say which one at this stage. But yeah everything I moving forwards.
We are going to organize for General Made Pastika to fly to Perth and meet with Fiona Wood and drum up publicity in regards to raising the money and the cause so to speak.
Baliblog: If you had to put a timeline on your project what do you see happening in 2005?
Dallas: I hope to see it by the end of the year.
Baliblog: Everything finished?
Dallas: Everything finished yeah. If everything is going to plan like it is now, then fingers crossed, but it is Indonesia. So?
Baliblog: Probably 2010!
Dallas: Yeah well that is the thing, whether it takes 1 year or it takes 10 years. As I say we are doing our best although we have very limited resources and finances at this stage. We are stretching those at the moment till we get the money.
Baliblog: If anyone wants to make a donation either of money or plane tickets etc. how do they go about it?
Dallas: Well they can make a donation over the website by credit card, or they can make it if they are an Australian resident, they can log on and we have got account details for the Commonwealth Bank. Airline tickets would be great because it would save me a fortune.
Baliblog: How do they do that?
Dallas: I do not know, they can send it to the solicitor in Australia or whatever. Its up to the individual you know. Air Paradise are on board and they are giving us subsidized airfares but we are still dipping into our pockets and with the limited funds we do have at this stage that is a bit of a hassle. We are hoping to get some sort of seed funding in the next couple of months to keep us here because we really need to open up a small office.
Baliblog: In your daily life here in Bali what are some of the things you do?
Dallas: Well firstly I check my email 3-4 times a day, currently we are organizing meetings with the Australian consulate, I had a meeting last week in Jakarta with the Australian embassy, updating the website. Basically keeping myself busy. It is a full day despite what some people think that I am over here on a holiday. I probably work more hours than back in Australia. I do not have a set time working so if I get an idea at 10pm I will be running down to the internet café.
Baliblog: I am kind of in the same boat and some people think I am just sitting under a tree drinking a margarita and I write one email a day, but its not like that.
Dallas: He is really lying you know! Its check in, have cocktail by the pool, decide what I want to eat for lunch, ha, ha, ha.
I am still very focused in something that I believe in with the park and despite all the knockers out there the park is going to be built.
Baliblog: As far as the park itself is still going to be in the original design? Just for people who have not read the previous articles you were planning a park with gardens in the shape of the inside of the Sari Club.
Dallas: That was the idea, because I was watching how people were indentifying with the site, bit I am open to anything now. If people want to submit designs they can be sending them to my email address. For any plans submitted we will have to get a high priest in to look at the design to say yay or nay to various aspects to keep in line with Hindu beliefs.
Baliblog: Okay that is the Sari Club site, but what about the Paddys site.
Dallas: With Paddys the front part where the actual club was in going to be an open space. Both sites cannot be built on, anything commercial etc. but the Paddys site is actually 50 meters in depth. Being prime real estate we were going to do a Bali Peace Center or Information Café and that has been downsized into a small Information Center with toilets and parking at the rear, because we want to make the whole area there pedestrian friendly. At the place where the actual club is its going to be open space.
Baliblog: What was the other thing you were going to do? You were planning some kind of restaurant deal?
Dallas: The Peace Center we thought was going to take up the whole Paddys site, but its not. Because of Hindu beliefs we are not allowed to build anything commercial on the site. Because of the land, when we got the land deed, the land actually goes back further than the site of the club once stood so can actually do a small version of what we were going to do there.
We will probably have a tourist information center there and toilets.
Baliblog: What is going to happen with the proposed viewing deck etc.?
Dallas: All that has gone out of the window. We have basically downsized it to a public toilets and an information center. They will not be built on the actual site but at the back of the site. Some people got a bit upset about that when they miss-interpreted what we proposed and thought we were building public toilets on the Paddys site.
If anyone knows about Kuta and public toilets, you have to carry an empty water bottle with you sometimes. Maybe we can do a set a toilets can call it Where The World Can Pee. Maybe we can have pictures of Amrozi and we can piss on his head. Joking!!!
Baliblog: Okay Dallas is there any other breaking news you want to share with us?
Dallas: No. Its just great that Dr Fiona Wood has put her name to it, she is Australian of the Year. Her role will be to help promote the park, get on sponsors, help us get the money. She is an amazing woman, she saved a lot of lives after the bomb, a lot of Australian and Indonesian lives. People can log onto the website and read about her, she is an amazing woman and she has had 6 kids. She is just a brilliant woman, I have spoken with her on a number of occasions and I have been courting her for the last 12 months to come on board. She is the only person I could find fitting in Australia to come on board, to be the patron. Same with General Made Pastika, he is a very kind and genuine man and it comes across when you meet him and hear him speak. Most foundations have only 1 patron, we have 2. So yeah.