Pecalang Warriors Vital Part in Saving Bali from Coronavirus

Pecalang Warriors Vital Part in Saving Bali from Coronavirus

Insisting against implementing large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) to slow the spread of COVID-19 across the resort island, the Bali administration has been relying on local customs called “Pecalang” to fight the ongoing outbreak.

Bali Governor I Wayan Koster claimed the island had been successful in curbing the disease because residents had strong ties to the local values and culture. He also acknowledged the role of 1,493 traditional villages across the island in preventing outsiders from entering their respective areas, thus preventing them from contracting the novel coronavirus.

Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia 1945 on Regional Government, especially in Article 18 and paragraph (2) states that “the state recognizes and respects units of customary law communities along with their traditional rights as long as they still live, and in accordance with the development of society and the principles of the Republic of Indonesia, which is regulated by law “.

In response to these provisions, the Bali provincial government released Regional Law 3 of 2003 on Pakraman and Customs Agency by sticking to the philosophy of “Tri Hita Karana”. In maintaining security and public order Pakraman in Bali, a task force was formed traditionally called “pecalang”, which means “celang” (the sharpness of the senses). Pecalang becomes one device of Pakraman, due to the formation through village Paruman (meeting) based on the teachings of Hinduism. Not all citizens can be pecalang of Pakraman, but the election is carried out by village prajuru based on Paruman stated in the villages “awig awig” (law).

Therefore, based on the concept of “ngayah” (not paid), a pecalang in any activities is related to customs, religion, and other activities with national and international scope, are required to participate in maintaining security and order of Pakraman, the area where pecalang domiciled. Especially on Nyepi, pecalang in maintaining security and order in each Pakraman both the physical environment, socio-cultural environment, including the behavior of the villagers, still do a good cooperation with the police of state and the entire community in Pakraman with coordination on any activities carried out.

Pecalang are a type of local security officers of an administrative village in Bali, Indonesia. They usually are engaged in mundane tasks such as traffic control, but during large events are tasked with general security. They work in coordination with two other groups – the hansip and police. Both the hansip and pecalang are local security forces and report only to the village head, a kepala desa.

Nevertheless, all three security forces work together to provide security. Hansip and pecalang are not modern phenomena created for tourism; rather, Bali had hansip and pecalang security forces hundreds of years before the advent of modern tourism. These forces traditionally reported to one of the royal families of the historic Bali Kingdoms, also considered their eyes and ears. Pecalang can be identified by their traditional and distinctive attire.

Every village in Bali has pecalang. The traditional guards maintain village security and manage traffic flow during religious and customary ceremonies. Pecalang have had an important role in Bali for hundreds of years. Pecalang were created to maintain the security of the village and in practice, they work hand in hand with hansip (security officers of the administrative village). In true Balinese fashion the costumes worn by the pecalang demonstrate a harmony of symbolism, in terms of design and accessories.

Usually the costumes consist of a chessboard-like sarong, white shirt, black waistcoat and headband completed with keris (dagger) affixed on the back. The checked motif represents the opposition of good and evil represented by white and black, the combination of which balances out into equilibrium. These sarongs can be seen in ceremonies and on statues throughout Bali. The positioning of the keris dagger represents the pecalang’s approach to peace keeping, which is passive rather than aggressive.

Despite being hundreds of years old, pecalang still play an important role among Balinese society. The job of pecalang is to secure activities related to Balinese customs, such as temple ceremonies, Gabon processions, wedding-processions. Pecalang are usually chosen by the village heads and given an assignment.

At Tanah Lot, pecalang are present to ensure security of the many visiting tourists. When it comes to big events, Bali has its own traditions of safeguarding events, with local authorities involving traditional Balinese security personnel. Major events in which pecalang plays an important role are the Bali Arts Festival, Nyepi (Day of Silence) and the International Kite Festival. When no major events are taking place, however, the pecalang settle back into more peaceful but equally useful roles such as controlling traffic.

All security roles are carried out in conjunction with the police department, demonstrating their vertical and horizontal cooperation to keep Bali safe, as their ancestors have done. As coronavirus is also becoming major in Bali, the government of Bali decided to make pecalang as one of the warrior to prevent the disease spreading in Bali. Pecalang usually play their role in desa adat part in Bali.

Bali security officers pecalang is becoming one of important part in preventing the spread of coronavirus in Bali. Pecalang do a lot of things to make the Balinese citizen obey the rule that government of Bali create to prevent the spread of the disease including giving the punishment for the citizen for not using a mask Example in Sanur, Denpasar they have been forcing people caught without wearing face masks to do push-ups in the street amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  The local security officers, known as Pecalang, have recently started enforcing the push-up punishment in the traditional village of Intaran in Sanur, east of Denpasar city.

The security officers were raising awareness for new local laws that were coming into effect since Friday, May 1.  From Friday, those caught entering the village without a face mask will be fined five kilograms of rice (68 Australian cents) and made to do community service.  The community service lasts three days and involves clearing palms from the Intaran village and traditional markets. Intaran village chief I Gusti Agung Alit Kencana said violators will be tried by the neighborhood and a youth organization known as Sekaa Teruna.  ‘We must be firm now, if we are not firm it will be difficult to regulate. We also coordinate with the government for regulating outsiders such as tourists,’ he told. He said the laws do not apply to tourists, which is why they have to coordinate with the government.  Pecalang officers report to the village chief and are a traditional security force separate from the police who are responsible for general safety and traffic control. They wear traditional Indonesian clothes, including a sarong and cloth hat.

Bali Governor I Wayan Koster claimed the island had been successful in curbing the disease because residents had strong ties to the local values and culture. He also acknowledged the role of 1,493 traditional villages across the island in preventing outsiders from entering their respective areas, thus preventing them from contracting the novel coronavirus.  “Our residents are more disciplined thanks to their local customs, which they strictly obey. Traditional villages also have their own ancestral customs for rituals that can be enforced amid the outbreak,” Koster said.

He added that the provincial administration had initiated several measures to prevent the outbreak from worsening across Bali, including preparing health facilities. “We have been following COVID-19 management procedures since the first case was recorded in our region on March 10,” the governor said. The island has 13 COVID-19 referral hospitals with 392 beds and equipped with isolation wards and skilled medical workers.

The administration will continue to improve healthcare measures across the island by, among other efforts, providing swab tests using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method in several hospitals and medical facilities, Koster went on to say. Pecalang will always needed to make the Balinese citizen obey by the government rules. Sometimes, the punishment from pecalang in Bali feel more ashamed compare when it comes from the police for Balinese Citizen.

This is not coming from out of reason, as we know that the culture in Bali is very strict for their own citizen. This make the punishment that coming from pecalang seems heavier compare to the actual law. We hope that pecalang can give the significant effect in reducing the case of coronavirus in Bali. So we can end this pandemic together soon and make our planet back healthy again.



The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated various sectors.

The results of an analysis from DCode, the world economic and financial consulting agency based in Cairo, Egypt, the tourism sector could be the most affected by the outbreak of Covid-19, which oblige many people to stay at home, not going anywhere. For those who work in this sector, ranging from guides, food stalls, souvenir sellers, online taxis, those who are involved in hospitality, airlines, airports, and others are severely affected. One reason is that there are very few or almost no people traveling, especially remote destinations.

Right. At this time, there may not be anyone who ‘dares’ to plan a walk in these difficult conditions. When will this virus go? When did it start safe to leave the house and meet lots of people? When can we safely travel again? Even if it’s safe, which ones are safe, which aren’t? Then, traveling using what is safe? Plane, train or car? Various questions linger in our minds, without any answers. No one can provide certainty and answers to these questions.

Many things must be revived, and we must move on. There are many things that must be done by companies, hotels, travel agencies, airlines, car rentals, and governments around the world to re-create the tourism sector into a dynamic sector and be able to support many people.

At the very least, the world of tourism will begin to revive again depending on several things;

  • The lockdown / quarantine rule is revoked, and of course there has been an official announcement from the government (Ministry of Health) that Covid-19 has been successfully overcome. Whether it’s because the vaccine has been found, or because of other reasons. At present, Indonesia is still in a period of national disaster, and we are still advised to stay at home, as well as conduct social / physical distancing.
  • WHO has given the green light to return to traveling. Now, WHO has clearly stated ‘stay home. There are no signs that in the near future WHO will change its policy.
  • Other countries have also revoked travel warnings, travel restriction, and so on. This could be one of Indonesia’s benchmarks for doing the same thing. Now, no country has done it.
  • Schools, campuses and businesses are back to normal. When students and students have returned to study at their school / campus, and restaurants no longer apply the social / physical distancing rules, this can also be one of the benchmarks that traveling can be done again.

The safest is to wait for the four points above to occur in parallel. In addition, we need to be careful of some of the things below that are not a sign of a safe time to travel again, which are this following;

  • Tourist attractions are reopened. Of course, this is not a sign that the virus has left, but it could be due to severe economic reasons because there is no income from visitors.
  • There are no newer covid-19 cases. Again, even this is not a sign that the virus has left. To find out if there are new positive cases or not, testing must continue. And all countries have limitations to do it.
  • When politicians say ‘Covid-19 is gone’. For this, let the health experts, the ministry of health, WHO, and those who have the competence to ensure it.

But indeed, we need to realize that the world of tourism will be the longest and last sector to return to normal after this pandemic is over. Let’s look realistically. Even though many travel restrictions will be lifted, we might not be able to go out of the house and travel soon and feel completely safe. Many of us will still be concerned and considerate. It could be that some countries will still ‘shut down’ for some time even though the pandemic has been declared over.

This will reduce the number of countries in transit, the number of destination countries, and the number of tourists. In addition, millions of people were affected financially during the pandemic season. Revenues are reduced, savings are reduced. When Covid-19 is gone, the first priority in using the ‘remaining’ funds is certainly not traveling, but to our own recovery. But although we have to face the reality, we must not stop to be optimist, right?

Like many countries, Indonesia is currently focused on preparing a new normal to prepare for welcoming tourists back. The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy of Indonesia are still undergoing some plans to reopen tourism. Certainly, Bali is one of the important areas to be recovered. Bali’s tourism sector planned to be opened in two stages, that is in August 2020 for domestic tourists and September 2020 for foreign tourists.

Minister of Tourism and Creative Economy, Wishnutama Kusubandio, said that if the phase one of the new normal implementation in Bali which is the opening of various sectors, except education and tourism could run smoothly, then the Island of the Gods could enter the second stage; the opening of tourism sector.

According to him, overall, the spread of Covid-19 in the Island of the Gods was relatively far lower than other places. However, tourism industry is a business of trust that must create a sense of security and comfort when visiting. So, he emphasizes that what we need to build is a public trust, both national and international tourists, regarding the implementation of health protocols in Bali.

Bali’s Governor, I Wayan Koster also said that he had made preparations regarding the protocol for the implementation of the new normal. But for the opening of tourism industry, we must be very careful in order to prevent the second wave of pandemic, which is very risky and very heavy to face. Therefore, no need to rush, because we are all trying.

Meanwhile, The Nusa Dua area is preparing a pilot program on the implementation of Cleanliness, Health, and Safety (CHS) for new normal tourist destinations. The Nusa Dua area was chosen because it is strategic, exclusive and have centralized system, so the supervision could run smoothly. Nusa Dua is also equipped with supporting facilities ranging from accommodation, amenities, and even hospitals on an international scale.

The steps for the opening of tourism divides into two stages;

First is Gaining Confidence and second is Appealing. Gaining Confidence starts from the preparation of the CHS protocol which will later be packaged through video tutorials and easy-to-understand guidebooks for tourism stakeholders such as hotels, restaurants, shopping centres, tourist destinations, and others. Then proceed with the training, simulations, publications, and campaigns as well as the application of CHS application.

While in the Appealing stage, The Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy will run a number of programs such as Mega Daytrip involving key opinion leaders (KOL), the media and travel agents (TA) and tour operators (TO). Then also make a joint promotion by making tour packages with airlines and TA / TO and preparing MICE activities on a small scale.

Nevertheless, they emphasize that the opening of tourism destination still depends on the decision of the Covid-19 Task Force and the local government. Because each destination has different situations and conditions. But let’s hope for the best, to regain “normal” very soon.

Bali New Normal – Is It Taken Seriously by the foreigners?

Not that long ago, the internet burst into chaos when Indonesian screen-writer residing in Bali, Jenny Jusuf, blew the whistle on a Mass Yoga Party organized by a Ubud-based Yoga Shala.

On her original tweet last month, Jenny posted a photo showing a mass of foreigners participating in the event with very close proximities from each other. The jam-packed Yoga shala was shown practicing a “Yoga Party” that the shala’s founder later claimed to have taken place in hope to raise money for local communities suffering from the Corona impacts.

As we all know, Bali has been gasping for air these past four months. So many places were closed down, cutting off the livelihood of so many people. In this spirit, as the founder of the yoga shala has claimed, they arrange a mass yoga exercises with a DJ for the house party to end things up. Although it is a bit of contrast ending a mass yoga practice with a party, we try to keep an open mind and just accept that many people might find it exciting. Afterall, the place was cramped, right?

Jenny’s post sparked some serious anger within the island’s community; both locals and foreigners were appalled seeing so many people in a small place without any regard to the official health protocols a.k.a wearing a mask and/or keeping a minimum of 2 meters distance from each other.

As always, people were divided into two poles. While most of them were raged to see foreigners giving no regard to the government’s health regulations, surprisingly there were so many that defended the shala, saying that they have done so much for the local communities and that we should be grateful for them being there.

Although ultimately taking responsibilities and apologizing for the inconsiderate event held at the Ubud Shala, the founder had tried denying the event and, with no shame wjatsoever, tried to discard Jenny’s reputation by saying that the photo she posted was taken months ago before the pandemic hit the world.

Claiming that it was an old photo, the irresponsible founder of the shala even tried to clean his footsteps by erasing older posts published in their social media accounts; a sad attempt to conceal a digital print since people had taken screenshots and other proofs in defense of Jenny Jusuf’s report.

When it was finally proved that the photo was indeed taken in June 2020, backed up with some videos uploaded by the very people who participated in the event, the founder of the shala then made a long and annoying apology post on their Insta, pointing out the things they have done and given back to the Ubud community. So many foreigners on their right mind were enraged with this half-heartedly made apology, saying that there is no point of giving money to the locals if they then decide to ignore health protocols and jeopardize the lives of so many.

As the situation went from bad to worse for Jenny, she actually felt like she needed legal counselors to deal with the threats and personal attacks she got from people defending the shala. Some local Balinese lawyers responded to her plea of getting legal help and is processing the case as of today and we wonder what the outcome will be.

Really, we wonder why it seems so hard to wear a mask and maintain a distance when not only our own but also other people’s health are at stake. When you live in a society, there is always a chance that you get or transfer the virus to other people without even knowing. If you do not have any care in the world of getting Corona in your system, then maybe it is time for you to think that you can also be a carrier, transferring your virus everywhere and to everybody you make contact with.

People who have families, jobs, and lives they can not afford to leave just for being sick and ridden on a hospital bed. These people might resist going to hospitals and just keep on pushing themselves to go to work everyday, infecting  many more people in turn, and yet you wonder why the virus is staying for so long.

All in all, it seems like people are not taking the New Normal regulations seriously when they really should. Hopefully Bali government will have   strict regulation regarding the matter in the near future. Until then, please wear your mask and keep your distance. We’ll fight this together!