In response to the appeal by Indonesian Hindu groups, the Bali government yesterday confirmed that, for the second year running, the island will be without any cellular data services during Nyepi, Bali’s Day of Silence, which falls on Thurs, March 7.
“Services will be disconnected for 24 hours from Thursday, March 7, at 6am until Friday, March 8, at 6am. I hope that other people who are staying in Bali at that time can also respect this decision,” said Gede Darmawa, a representative from the Bali Protocol Bureau, as quoted by Bali Post.
The decision comes after talks with a number of organizations, including the Ministry of Communication, various religious groups, and internet providers. It is hoped that the temporary shutdown of internet services during Nyepi will allow Balinese Hindus to focus on the holy day’s goals of silence and self reflection.
The detrimental influence of social networking sites, where negative sentiments can so easily be spread, was among the justifications cited by religious group leaders for the 24-hour shutdown.
“We support the government’s decision so that the Hindu holiday in Bali can be more solemn. Judging from previous experiences, we know that problems can arise from social media supported by internet networks, and this can interfere with the implementation of religious holidays,” said Rev. Jonathan Suharto, as quoted in Bali Post.
Darmawa added that, although operators would cut off the data network, internet services at vital public facilities like hospitals, as well as emergency services, would not be affected. Other public services excluded from the internet ban include the police, the military, National Search and Rescue, Ngurah Rai Airport, the Regional Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD), and the Meteorology Climatology and Geophysics Council (BMKG).
Despite cellular data being blocked, we have not seen any reports about non-mobile ISPs being shut down for the day, so presumably the situation will be the same as last year with ISPs remaining (for the most part) operational.