Bali Police ready to safeguard Miss World

Bali Police, with support from the military and pecalang (Balinese traditional security guards), said it would ensure the Miss World pageant in Bali in September would run smoothly.

Bali Police chief Insp. Gen. Arif Wachyunadi told journalists that hundreds of personnel would be deployed to sites - in places such as Badung, Denpasar, Karangasem, Klungkung and Tabanan - to safeguard the contestants when they were there.

"The security arrangements will be in accordance with our high-profile international event standard operation procedure," Wachyunadi said.

Wachyunadi's security announcment follows hot on the heels of demands by Habib Rizieq Shibab, leader of the hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI), who ordered the government to revoke the event permit or risk massive protests across the country.

On Thursday, Wachyunadi implied that the police were even prepared to deploy a much larger force saying that it would respond to "the dynamic of the situation."

The regional police in Bali have at least 10 companies of community control team (Dalmas) troopers, who are well-trained and well-equipped in executing crowd control, as well as three battalions of combat-grade Mobile Brigade (Brimob) officers.

In addition, the warm relationship between Wachyunadi and Udayana Military Command chief Maj. Gen. Wisnu Bawa Tenaya, also means that the army would be on hand to respond to any situation. In May and June, a large contingent of soldiers was dispatched across the island to assist the police in securing the gubernatorial election.

Udayana Military Command has one ranger-qualified combat battalion stationed in Bali and a dedicated counterterrorism unit.

"The Udayana Military Command, the provincial administration, and all Bali residents also support us. The Pecalang would also be participated on safeguard the event in some places," Wachyunadi stressed.

He disclosed that the local police would conduct a special security operation over two weeks, starting on Sept. 14, when the contestants begin to arrive on the resort island. The National Police have allocated Rp 505.7 million to fund the security operation.

Separately, the chairman of the Grand Council of Customary Villages (MUDP), Jero Gede Putus Suwena, said that the pecalang would participate in securing the pageant.

"As Balinese, we have an obligation to safeguard our island. Supporting the police for the Miss World event is part of our obligation,"

The MUDP is the umbrella organisation for 1,483 customary villages across Bali. These villages are ready to deploy their respective pecalang if the situation arose.

"We respect all opinions of the event, including those that reject it. We only hope that such differences in opinion are not being exploited to incite conflict,"

Miss World spokesperson Syafril Nasution said that he was grateful for the support displayed by the local community and the security agencies.

"Those who think that the event will damage our culture or is against our religion, I think they misunderstand the pageant,"

He disclosed that Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika had made it very clear that respect of the local culture was of upmost be the first requirement the organizer must agree before he gave a green light.

"There will be no bikini during the pageant. In fact, Miss World has not had a bikini event in the last seven years. This year, the contestants will don our traditional attire."