High-profile painter and art museum curator Nyoman Gunarsa wants Klungkung regency to preserve the World War II Japanese caves on the outskirts of Gianyar city and promote them as a tourist attraction instead of closing them off and destroying the network of diggings as has been proposed.
Gunarsa said the proposal to destroy the caves was misguided because they had historical value. He said he was ready to manage and promote a properly cared for cave complex if asked to do so.
He said government officials proposing to destroy the caves did not appreciate history and or care about culture. The caves were built by slave labourers enlisted during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia. Saying he was surprised at any suggestion the caves should be closed, he said:
“Other areas of Bali, such as Ubud, are seeking places to promote as tourism attractions. How is that Klungkung, which has such historical sites, wants to destroy them?”
Gunarsa said the current condition of the caves and the past development of the historical site had gone off course. He said placement of a giant Ganesha statue near the caves’ entrance had no connection with Japanese wartime site and be removed.
He wants the site developed with workshops and art shops sharing a theme with Japanese culture and history and suggests rehabilitation of the cave system – used by the Japanese to avoid Allied bombing during their occupation of Bali from 1941-45 – is an opportunity to build a sister-city relationship between Klungkung’s capital, Semarapura, and Kyoto in Japan.
There would even be scope for a statue at the entrance to the cave in memory of the Balinese who built the caves and for carved reliefs telling the story of the caves’ construction.Filed under: Headlines