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  The New Republic

Following the exit of the Dutch came constant bickering between the military, secessionists, communists, conservatives, and religious fanatics. The new country experimented with a democratic constitution. Cabinets turned over every six months.

To stop the chaos, President Sukarno declared in 1956 his policy of "Guided Democracy", involving the creation of a National Council made up of members handpicked by himself. Sukarno declared the age-old Indonesian tradition of 'mufakat', or decision through consensus, would best suit Indonesia as a method of decision-making. Political parties and legislative bodies were abolished.

On Bali, the old power arrangements continued, with the various principalities converted into 'kabupaten' and the rajas or members of their families assuming the office of bupati (mayor). In the years following the establishment of Sukarno's extralegal "Guided Democracy", Bali came to distrust the arrogant, incompetent, and corrupt centralized regime.

Jakarta, in turn, resented the special treatment Bali had received from the Dutch. Many in the government also felt the Balinese had cooperated all too willingly with their former colonial masters. Though Sukarno was half Balinese, he showed little empathy for the Balinese and their plight.

In the late colonial period, the island had been one of the best-administered regions in the archipelago, but under the new republic it became one of the most neglected and dependent.

By 1962, the island was relying on injections of 300 tons of rice per month from the powers in Jakarta. A clique of corrupt Sukarnoists and new Balinese capitalists, both civilian and military, lorded it over the landless peasants, aggressively jockeying for state patronage and competing with each other for wealth and power at the expense of the natives.

Village administration, local 'adat', and large public rituals were redefined and appropriated by Indonesian government institutions to enhance state authority. Bad government led to the disintegration of the island's economy. Government offices were filled with bungling bureaucrats who insisted on bribes before performing even the most routine services.

Sukarno meanwhile treated Bali like his own private playground. He and his entourage visited the island constantly. Demanding special dance performances are staged, abducting Balinese women for sexual favors, commandeering without payment vehicles, paintings and whatever else seized their fancy.

Advance squads of soldiers would sweep in to shoot dogs and pigs so parties of devout Muslim visitors would not be revolted by sight of the unclean creatures. What did the Sukarno era leave behind? A former Dutch resthouse at Tampaksiring converted to one of Sukarno's private palaces, the eyesore of the Bali Beach Hotel at Sanur, and the establishment of Bali's only tertiary institute, the Udayana University of Denpasar.

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