Playing with paradise: Defunct Bali golf course another Trump fiasco


MNC chief and Trump ally Hary Tanoesoedibjo – who bought the Nirwana in 2013 – has previously cited lower consumer spending during the COVID-19 pandemic in explaining delays, but the project’s troubles predate the outbreak.

Edwin Darmasetiawan, director of MNC’s property arm, refused to confirm how many Indonesians were sacked when the development was abruptly sidelined.

He said “financial matters” had caused the years-long delays and said he hoped it would still be developed within two years, even though no work has begun.

“I don’t see this project as a failure, but as postponed,” he told AFP.

“We have another project in Lido, now we are focusing on that,” he said, referring to a planned mega resort city of the same name south of Jakarta.

The project in West Java, which will include a Trump golf course and resort, has courted controversy over builders allegedly exhuming Islamic ancestral graves without locals’ permission.

The Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment about the Bali resort.

Many Balinese workers have lost opportunities due to the billionaires’ decision to let the plot stagnate.

While hotel workers were compensated after losing their jobs, about 150 caddies on temporary contracts received no money when they were suddenly released.

“It was hard. The time I lost my job as a caddy was difficult. Many people were angry,” said Dwi.

She earned a 1.3 million rupiah (US$86) monthly salary, but tips from wealthy golfers meant she could earn as much as 15 million rupiah in a good month. Now she makes the same salary, but no tips.


Yet the hotel and golf workers whose livelihoods were sliced into the rough are trying to forgive and forget.

Dwi, the former caddy, told AFP that getting her old job back now seemed “impossible”.

“I have just let it go. I’m moving on,” she said.

Pita Dewi, who worked at the hotel’s spa for 18 years and now runs her parents’ cafe, said Trump’s shutdown of the resort had left her fearing for her future.

“I got stressed thinking about how I would earn money, because I have children,” she said.

“I was 48 years old, how could I get another job?”

But in typical Balinese fashion, optimistic locals who believe staunchly in forgiveness are quick to throw away any negative feelings towards the larger-than-life tycoon.

“We have to continue our life,” Dewi said.

“If we hated him, would that make him give us money?”

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