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Together with Indonesian business partner Hary Tanoesoedibjo, the Trump Organization, which was ran by US President Donald Trump between 1971 and 2017, plans to build the biggest and most luxurious hotel on the Indonesian resort island of Bali, complete with an upgraded golf course and ocean view (which includes a view on the 16th century Hindu pilgrimage temple Pura Tanah Lot). However, this USD $1 billion (six-star) resort project met resistance from the local population.
The lands and waters we now know as Indonesia used to be under the influence of Hindu empires (prior to the expansion of Islam in the Archipelago after the 1200s). However, on most Indonesian islands this Hindu chapter has been erased, either by time or conquest, from the Archipelago's history. The only exception being the island of Bali. Until today most inhabitants on this resort island (known as 'island of the Gods') practice Balinese Hinduism (and its rituals and art also form reasons for foreign tourists to visit this island).
In Balinese Hinduism the worshiping of gods plays a central role. Not only the traditional Hindu gods (Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva) are worshiped but also a range of other deities. These gods need to be respected fully (like in monotheistic religions). One of the local rules is that buildings are not allowed to be taller than the highest (nearby) coconut tree. If this rule is ignored, then it would anger the gods. This is one of the key issues surrounding the Trump Organization's new 6-star hotel project in Bali's Tabanan regency.
The Trump Organization and its Indonesian partner business tycoon (MNC Group founder) Hary Tanoesoedibjo acquired an existing hotel (the 20-year-old Pan Pacific Nirwana Bali Resort) about two years ago. This resort is located nearby the Pura Tanah Lot temple. The structure of the existing property is, in line with local beliefs, not taller than the surrounding coconut trees. However, the Trump Organization "thinks big" and wants to expand the existing structure by building a tower with ocean view and an upgraded golf course.
Besides the height, another issue is the additional land that is required. The MNC Group said the project requires about 34 hectares of additional land. Surrounding the existing property there is only farmland, implying local farmers need to sell it to the developers. However, based on information in local media few farmers want to sell their land. Moreover, according to local beliefs land nearby temples cannot be used for the purpose of leisure (such as a golf course). On the eastern side of the existing golf course there stands a small temple and therefore local people do not want to see an upgraded (expanded) golf course.
Land acquisition is always a costly and time-consuming affair in Indonesia. The property, which will be named the Trump International Hotel and Tower Bali, would become the most luxurious resort on Bali. Construction is planned to start in early 2018.
Meanwhile, I Gusti Ngurah Sudiana, Chief of Parisada Hindu Dharma Indonesia (Indonesia's largest Hindu organization), is against any property development that would impact on the 16th century Hindu pilgrimage temple Pura Tanah Lot, a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site.
Hary Tanoesoedibjo's MNC Group, however, said the height of the planned property on Bali is not yet determined.