A plan to provide electric bikes for pecalang (Balinese people’s traditional security guards) to patrol during Nyepi (Day of Silence) tomorrow has been postponed to avoid public backlash.
The Head of the Council of Bali Traditional Villages, Ida Pangelingsir Agung Putra Sukahet, said that the postponement of the distribution of e-bikes to 35 banjar (traditional villages) on the island was taken to avoid any controversies among locals.
“The distribution of electric bikes is feared to be perceived differently by the Balinese who are preparing to follow Catur Brata Penyepian,” he said yesterday.
Catur Brata Penyepian refers to four rules that Balinese Hindus have to obey during Nyepi. The rules are Amati Geni (refraining from switching on electricity or lights or setting a fire), Amati Karya (refraining from doing any work), Amati Lelungan (refraining from travel), and Amati Lelanguan (avoiding any forms of entertainment).
Pecalang are instrumental in keeping order during Nyepi and traditionally patrolled on foot during the holy day. This year, at least 35 banjar were scheduled to be given an electric bike each to help them in pressing situations. The 35 villages include Kedua, Peninjauan, Cengkilung, Jenah, Peraupan, Poh Gading, Peguyangan, Tonja, Oongan, Ubung, Taman Poh Manis, Laplap, Bekul, Yangbatu, Pagan, Tanjung Bungkak, Kesiman, Penatih, Penatih Puri, Anggabaya, Tembau, Sumerta, Pemogan, Kepaon, Sidakarya, Penyaringan, Sanur, Pedungan, Sesetan, Serangan, Panjer, Renon, Intaran, Denpasar, and Padang Sambian.
I Made Mendra, the chairman of the Denpasar Pecalang Union, said in a previous statement received by Coconuts that the electric vehicles would help the guards, especially during emergencies.
“We’re grateful for this initiative. Now we can perform our duties in pressing situations without interfering with Nyepi observation,” he said.
The e-bikes are part of an initiative involving the Transportation Agency, state-owned utility company PLN, and KemBALI Becik, which is a collaborative effort between local NGOs, private companies, and the Balinese government to reduce emissions and promote sustainable tourism.
However, the plan was postponed following an audience with Ida Pangelingsir Agung Putra Sukahet, with the incomplete public information of the e-bikes distribution cited as the factor behind the decision.
“In order to maintain Catur Barata Penyepian, please postpone the activity and find a better moment,” he said.
Separately, I Kadek Mudarta, the Head of the Bali Public Transportation Agency, said that the initiative was launched to promote carbon reduction, which is one of the highlighted issues for the upcoming 2022 G20 Bali Summit on Oct. 30 and 31.
“When we announced it to the media, we maintained that these vehicles were only to be used for emergency purposes and not to disrupt Catur Barata Penyepian,” he said.
Daniel Prasatyo, a 43-year-old Indonesian language teacher and interpreter based in Ubud, Gianyar, believes the e-bikes could have definitely aided the pecalang in their duties without breaking the traditions of Nyepi.
“[Pecalang] usually patrol on foot so they don’t make any noise. So the electric bikes would have helped a lot,” Daniel, who has lived in Bali since 2011, told Coconuts.
This year’s Nyepi marks the first time in two years that ogoh-ogoh (menacing-looking giant statues representing evil) parades are allowed back on the streets on the eve of the holy day.
Bali provincial government spokesman Syamsi said that they will deploy 6,125 officers to assist pecalang in maintaining security during Nyepi observation.