NB July 22 - Personal Perspective AGS

No, it’s not a typo, it’s just a play on words, hopefully with a deeper meaning, which I will try to explain! We are all now so conscious of the whole climate change factors, the constant babble about bringing emissions down to zero, reducing energy usage, converting to renewables, recycling, repurposing and refusing, etc. etc., sometimes backed by action. Sometimes just babble.

But behind the obvious factors of sustainability – waste, water and energy – are the equally important social factors involving positive engagement with the community and maintaining fairness and balance for your employees, which are both very complex and challenging areas, as is the whole supply-chain management issue. Let’s start with that.

I fully agree that local purchases have to be maximised giving business (nurture!) to the local suppliers, but perhaps there have to be some exceptions? Scotch Whisky comes from Scotland, not Bali. Parma Ham comes from Italy, not Java. Can we honestly cut out genuinely geographically unique products for the sake of ESG compliance? I’m really not sure. I think water is absolutely okay to produce locally though I’m sure Perrier and Fiji won’t agree! There is bound to be a major debate on these issues, and fairness to both sides is essential.

Then there is the question of local employment which should definitely be prioritised, but what to do when specific skills and experience levels are not available? We still need to run our businesses efficiently. Yes, I know training (another form of nurture!) is necessary but we do need to be flexible.

Now, what about the culinary businesses (i.e. nurture for us)? Our ongoing list of Bali’s newest monthly venues (you’ll find it on our website nowbali.co.id, Newest Restaurants in Bali this 2022) featured 21 cafés, bars and restaurants which opened in Bali up to May 2022.

Wow, they were good, but what was the balance of nurture in this particular group? Let’s have a look:
• 20 were foreign-owned and managed. Good for investment and enterprise but…
• 15 were in the Canggu, Batu Bolong,  Berawa, Umalas area.
• 2 were in Seminyak. 1 in Petitenget.
• None were in Ubud, Nusa Dua, Denpasar, or the north, east or west.
• 19 featured western-focused menus, cocktails etc.
• 2 featured Japanese.
• No Balinese or Indonesian food at all.
• The Balinese-owned establishment serves Melbourne-inspired cuisine.

Now perhaps there were also a raft of local eateries that opened to balance out this list, which was not reviewed, and were based in other areas, and I will challenge the editors to research that, but this seems to be very much the trend. Bali, as the eclectic, international dining, drinking, and partying hub is re-establishing itself, perhaps with greater force than before. But is this right?

I am sure that everyone will love the offerings of the listed venues, their food, service and decor will no doubt be inspirational, but have we lost the balance of nurture? Should there not be a balancing host of Balinese, Sundanese, Manadonese and Javanese offerings to keep Indonesia’s favourite holiday island – Indonesian?

The balance of products, the balance of employment and the balance of enterprise all need to be carefully nurtured.

Alistair G. Speirs

Alistair G. Speirs

Alistair G Speirs, OBE, is the Publisher of NOW! Magazines. He has been in the publishing, advertising and PR business for the last 25 years. He started both NOW! Bali and NOW! Jakarta as each region's preferred community magazine.