The History of Indonesia - The History of Bali, Indonesia
The History of Bali - Bali History 1848 BC - present: Modern Historical Period
The History of Bali: 1846 CE – present
Modern Historical Period
In the modern historical period
Dutch colonial control expanded across the Indonesian archipelago in the nineteenth century, to become the Dutch East Indies. In Bali, the Dutch used the pretext of eradicating opium smuggling, arms running, plunder of shipwrecks, and slavery to impose their control on Balinese kingdoms.
Northern Bali campaigns (1846-49)
Main articles: Dutch intervention in Northern Bali (1846), Dutch intervention in Northern Bali (1848), and Dutch intervention in Northern Bali (1849)
A series of three military expeditions between 1846 to 1849, the two first ones initially countered successfully by Jelantik. The “kingdoms of Buleleng and Bangli waged continuous disputes, and in 1849 Bangli assisted the Dutch in their military expedition against Buleleng”, permitted the Dutch to take control of the northern Bali kingdoms of Buleleng and Jembrana. The king of Buleleng and his retinue killed themselves in a mass ritual suicide, called a Puputan, which was also a hallmark of the subsequent Dutch military interventions.
Subsequently, the Dutch established a colonial administration in northern Bali. They nominated a member of the royal family as regent, and attached to him a Dutch Controller.
The first resident Controller was Heer van Bloemen Waanders, who arrived in Singaraja on 12 August 1855. His main reforms included the introduction of vaccination, the banning of self-sacrifice or suttee, the eradication of slavery, the improvement of the irrigation system, the development of coffee production as a cash crop, the construction of roads, bridges and port facilities for improved commerce and communication. The Dutch also drastically revamped and increased the tax revenues from the people and from commerce, especially of opium. By the mid-1870, Buleleng was visited by 125 European-style ships annually, and another 1,000 local ships. Christianization was attempted but proved a total failure.
Uprising occurred, necessitating further Dutch intervention. In 1858, the Balinese nobleman Njoman Gempol raised a rebellion by claiming that the Dutch were exploiting Java. A fourth military expedition was sent in 1858 with 12 officers and 707 infantrymen and eliminated the rebellion, sentencing Njoman Gempol to exile in Java.
Another rebellion was led by Ida Mahe Rai against which was sent a fifth military expedition in 1868, consisting of 800 men under Major van Heemskerk. Initially unsuccessful, the expedition was reinforced by 700 men and a new commander, Colonel de Brabant, and prevailed with only two officers and 10 soldiers killed.
Lombok and Karangasem campaign (1894)
In the late 1890s, struggles between Balinese kingdoms in the island’s south were exploited by the Dutch to increase their control. A war of the Rajas between 1884 and 1894 gave another pretext to the Dutch to intervene. In 1894, the Dutch defeated the Balinese ruler of Lombok, adding both Lombok and Karangasem to their possessions.
Southern Bali campaigns (1906-08)
A few years later, with the pretext of stopping the plundering of shipwrecks, the Dutch mounted large naval and ground assaults at the Sanur region in 1906 in the Dutch intervention in Bali (1906), leading to the elimination of the royal house of Badung and about 1000 deaths. In the Dutch intervention in Bali (1908), a similar massacre occurred in the face of a Dutch assault in Klungkung, sealing the end of the Majapahit dynasty which had ruled the island, and the total rule of the Dutch over Bali. Afterwards the Dutch governors were able to exercise administrative control over the island, but local control over religion and culture was generally left intact.
The Dutch military interventions however were followed closely by media coverage, and reports of the sanguinary conquest of the southern part of the island shocked the West. The disproportion between the offense and harshness of the punitive actions was pointed out. The image of the Netherlands as a benevolent and responsible colonial power were seriously affected as a consequence. The Netherlands, also under criticism for their policies in Java, Sumatra and the eastern island, decided to make amends, and announced the establishment of an “Ethical policy”.As a consequence, the Dutch in Bali turned students and protectors of Balinese culture and endeavoured to preserve it in addition to their initial modernization role. Efforts were made at preserving Bali culture and at making it a “living museum” of classical culture, and in 1914, Bali was opened to tourism.[
In the 1930s, anthropologists Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, and artists Miguel Covarrubias and Walter Spies, and musicologist Colin McPhee created a western image of Bali as “an enchanted land of aesthetes at peace with themselves and nature”, and western tourism first developed on the island.
Second World War and Indonesian independence
Imperial Japan occupied Bali during World War II with the declared objective of forming a “Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere” that would liberate Asian countries from Western domination. Future rulers such as Sukarno were brought forward by the Japanese. Sukarno famously said: “The Lord be praised, God showed me the way; in that valley of the Ngarai I said: Yes, Independent Indonesia can only be achieved with Dai Nippon…For the first time in all my life, I saw myself in the mirror of Asia”.The lack of institutional changes from the time of Dutch rule however, and the harshness of war requisitions made Japanese rule little better than the Dutch one. Most of all, independence was strongly desired.
Following Japan’s Pacific surrender in August 1945, the Balinese took over the Japanese weapons. The Dutch returned to Indonesia in 1946, including Bali, to reinstate their pre-war colonial administration. One Balinese, Colonel Gusti Ngurah Rai, formed a Balinese ‘freedom army’. Colonel I Gusti Ngurah Rai, by then 29 years old, rallied his forces in east Bali at Marga Rana, where they were trapped by heavily armed Dutch troops. On 20 November 1946, in the Battle of Marga, the Balinese battalion was entirely wiped out, breaking the last thread of Balinese military resistance.
In 1946 the Dutch constituted Bali as one of the 13 administrative districts of the newly proclaimed State of East Indonesia, a rival state to the Republic of Indonesia which was proclaimed and headed by Sukarno and Hatta. Bali was included in the United States of Indonesia when the Netherlands recognised Indonesian independence on 29 December 1949.
Post Indonesian independence
The 1963 eruption of Mount Agung killed thousands, created economic havoc and forced many displaced Balinese to be transmigrated to other parts of Indonesia. Mirroring the widening of social divisions across Indonesia in the 1950s and early 1960s, Bali saw conflict between supporters of the traditional caste system, and those rejecting these traditional values. Politically, this was represented by opposing supporters of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and the Indonesian Nationalist Party (PNI), with tensions and ill-feeling further increased by the PKI’s land reform programs.
An attempted coup in Jakarta was put down by forces led by General Suharto. The army became the dominant power as it instigated a violent anti-communist purge, in which the army blamed the PKI for the coup. Most estimates suggest that at least 500,000 people were killed across Indonesia, with an estimated 80,000 killed in Bali, equivalent to 5% of the island’s population. With no Islamic forces involved as in Java and Sumatra, upper-caste PNI landlords led the extermination of PKI members. As a result of the 1965-66 upheavals, Suharto was able to manoeuvre Sukarno out of the presidency, and his “New Order” government re-established relations with western countries.
The pre-War Bali as “paradise” was revived in a modern form, and the resulting large growth in tourism has led to a dramatic increase in Balinese standards of living and significant foreign exchange earned for the country. Rather than destroy Bali’s culture, “in Bali’s case, tourism has helped to reinforce a separate sense of Balinese identity, and given Balinese players in Indonesian society the means by which to support their island’s idea of uniqueness”.
In 1999, about 30,000 hotel rooms were available for tourists. As of 2004, the island achieves over 1,000,000 visitors per year, versus an initial “planned” level of 500,000 visitors, leading to overdevelopment and environmental deterioration: “The result has been polluted and eroded beaches, shortages of water, and a deterioration “of the quality of life of most Balinese”.Political trouble has also affected the island, as the bombing in 2002 by militant Islamists in the tourist area of Kuta killed 202 people, mostly foreigners. This attack, and another in 2005, severely affected tourism, bringing much economic hardship to the island.
Writing in 2004, Professor Adrian Vickers expressed that “the challenge of the twenty-first century will be to restore tourism while making Bali livable”. Tourism in Bali shows for the moment a steady significant growth and about 85% of the jobs in Bali are directly connected to tourism.