Keith Lovert

Knowledge in this context is a very wide, broad-ranging subject. The total mixture of what to day constitutes Belitung is the ‘knowledge’ that you have to work with. What I am afraid of is that the people of the Belitung are e in danger of throwing away their indigenous knowledge to replace it with something much more inferior. You think you know what is good and, too often, it is made of plastic and will not last long. I am not being arrogant but sharing with you what I have seen in countries, which have been through the same development curve. I am saying there is an opportunity to learn from the experience of others.
As foreigner I also  want you to share my view of Belitung, because  since in this day of globalization, the word is  a very small place, and there is no such  thing  as an  ‘island’. My role here today is perhaps to provide you with a mirror in which you can see what foreigners think of you and your island.

Let me with a number of impressions:

  • Quite, relaxed
  • Beautiful environment
  • Friendly  people – who also have on average much better education than people on Java
  • Harmony between the races
  • Good infrastructure-roads, telephones , airport are not over-crowded.

But then we also to add some other impression:

  • Not very clean
  • A lot of environmental damage-nearly all visitor arrive by air, They also see that there are holes everywhere, and a lot of damage to forest.

Now every one has to live and to live we have to work, and that means there will be some sort of impact on the environment. I would like to stress that in creating work and income, it is much more sensible to conserve our knowledge base, our physical and intellectual heritage, so that we creat

e a richer future for our children. If we just take from our environment, we reduce our bank of knowledge and we will have to accept that the legacy we Let me present a couple of examples of ways in which knowledge in the sense of and appreciation of the value of heritage and its combination which modern technology  has been turned to good advantage. I want to talk about some examples from Australia.
I worked in the city of new castle in 1980. This is a  city that owes its livelihood to coal mines and its steel mill. It is an industrial city, with its oldest part, the old core of the city,   built on the southern side of a river just near its mouth to the sea.Newcastle changed over time. In new castle, changes in transport and fashion meant that the inner city area became depressed, and when I first walked through it, it was like a ghost town, dark, dirty and empty. People still lived there but there houses had little commercial value and so they had no reason to maintain them. This was a situation where the “knowledge” developed by people 100 years earlier was seen as having no value for to day.

Very soon after I first saw new castle people began to realize that this old area had a lot to offer. This was the extension of a fashion with which, in Australia,began in Sidney but which happened in many other cities of the wo rld in which old areas of cities were refurbished and made beautiful, so that they became elite residential areas and tourist attractions.

Today the old central area of Newcastle is very beautiful. A park has been created all along the southern edge of the river and individual owners ave joined the trend to renovating their houses in line with the original feeling of the area, and old warehouses have been turned into offices.

 

 

In Sydney, a similar transition has occurred in the area around the port, under the Jembatan Gantung, Sidney Harbour Bridge. Again, an area Of houses maybe 150 years old, huge old warehouses built of timber 20 cm in diameter, has been turned into one of Australia’s most successful tourism areas.Also of course, Australia’s indigenous culture, the culture of the Aborigines, has become a source of profit not only for the Aboriginal people themselves but for many other people who have turned their arts and crafts into tourist souvenirs and clothing that produce revenue of millions of dollars a year. There is now an appreciation that the “knowledge” of the Aboriginal people, which originally was seen as worthless by the white immigrants, has great value. That knowledge, expressed in paintings and sculpture, now sells for thousands of dollars in art galleries in New York and London.

Now if we come back Belitung, what have you got? Again, let me look at this with the eyes of an outsider because I know that you all believe that tourism is a potential industry for the island. You have an old Dutch –influenced town that I am sure if properly conserved would have great appeal to tourists from Europe. You have an interesting indigenous mix of Malay (Melayu) and Chinese cultures that brings with it a mixture of religions that present interest to the outsider. You have a beautiful maritime legacy and the most beautiful beaches I have seen anywhere. This is all your knowledge base, your heritage.

This should all up to a recipe for a successful tourism industry. This then leads you to further questions. Do you want to be like Kuta Bali ? When I first visited Kuta it was a fishing village. Today it is all concrete, it is an urban mass. Do you want to turn Belitung into a place like that? Don’t forget that not every tourist wants the 3 S’s of tourism – surf, sun and sex. This is the business of planning, and I hope what I have been able to today is to suggest that in your planning process, giving a prominent position to your cultural heritage, your traditional knowledge base, and in this sense your moral and religions foundation, makes a lot of sense. Don’t just throw it away.

Finally, I want to ask you how you are going to approach the question of heritage versus development as a community. I hope I have been able to persuade you today that heritage can be very useful asset in the development of tourism and as a source of pride within a community for its own sake.
All too often, “development” means throwing out the old, and then you turn around and think, hang on, we threw away something that was very beautiful, something very special for us, our own heritage. Today, very few people in Belitung are learning your old dances and old traditional. You are little embarrassed about a past where the orang pintar played a strong role. So young people want to become pintar in a different way, and don’t want to learn the old ways, I think this is like knocking down a fine old building just because it is old. Old does not mean kuno, useless.

Once an old building is lost, once there are no more people who remember traditional dances, old wisdoms, Belitung will have lost a lot of its specific appeal, and become just another part of the global community with the only thing to offer some nice beaches. I believe you should encourage the conservation of your old traditional and art forms to maintain a Belitung which has a special flavor of its own. I believe that if you do so, the outside world will take notice and praise you for it, and visit you and enrich your community in a financial way.

Keith Lovert dilahirkan di Inggris dan dibesarkan di Negara Kangguru, Australia, beberapa tahun terakhir bekerja sebagai tenaga Security System pada sebuah perusahan Teknologi Informasi di Jakarta. Sebelum menjadi Humas termasuk dipercayakan sebagai Humas Rini Suwandi, pernah bekerja sebagai wartawan untuk Majalah Asia Week. Makalah ini pernah disampaikan pada Seminar Festival Seni Budaya Belitong 2005 di Kampus AMB tanggal 9 April 2005 Keith Lovert mengilhami konsep tiga keseimbangan  sebagai logo.