NO HOLDS BARRED – Raja Petra Kamarudin:-My wife and I spent three weeks in Bali in April this year. We were there to celebrate our 38th wedding anniversary as guests of a very good friend who allowed me to stay in his exquisite villa for free. It would have cost me USD1,100 a night otherwise. That was after my Australian trip and just before the talk Haris Ibrahim I gave in Bangkok followed by all that drama. What impressed me most about Bali was the honesty of the people, who are 90% or so Hindu (but very different from Malaysian Hindus). We left all our things including our cash in our room. The staff walked in and out freely and we did not feel any anxiety. In fact, our bedroom did not have any locks but just glass shutters. I asked one Balinese girl who was giving me a two-hour massage how come the Balinese are so honest. It is because we believe in karma, she replied. Oh, I responded, that means whatever you do to others the same thing will happen to you (balasan yang sama). No, she replied. Whatever you do to others ten times more will happen to you. And that includes both good and bad things.. Whenever we took a taxi the taxi driver would automatically switch on his meter. And they never took the longer route to get where we wanted to get to. It was always short cuts. Whenever we stopped at the shopping complex to buy our groceries and stuff the taxi driver would switch off the meter and wait, however long it took. So we did not have to pay for “down time”. On one occasion my friend left his Blackberry at McDonalds.We were halfway back to the villa before he realised he had lost his Blackberry and we suspected he may have left it at McDonalds, the last pit stop we made. We asked the driver to turn around and go back to McDonalds, although we did not really think that his Blackberry would still be there. But lo and behold, it was still there. Someone had found it on the counter and had handed it to the manager. What a relief it was for my friend who could ill-afford to lose all his data. There were many other instances regarding the honesty of the Balinese that impressed us immensely. I joked that if I did not yet have any religion and was looking for a religion I would probably become a Balinese Hindu. That’s how impressed I was. After Bali we went over to Jakarta and suddenly it was another world altogether. Jakarta is predominantly Muslim but you did not feel safe in that city. You felt like you were constantly under siege. “Why can’t the Muslims in Jakarta be like the Hindus of Bali?” I commented to my wife. I was so impressed with the Balinese Hindus and disgusted with the Jakarta Muslims. And it is the Muslims who cause all the commotion in Bali with the bombings and what not. I would like to believe that Muslims have reduced Islam to a religion of rituals minus the commitment to the ideals of the religion.But then the Balinese are even more ritualistic than the Muslims. In fact, they appear to be constantly in prayer. I am yet to put my finger on it. There is something about the Balinese version of Hinduism that makes them extremely honest and decent people. But what is it? I think I am going to go back to Bali and spend some time studying the people there, in particular their religion. I need to find outwhat it is they are doing right and we are doing wrong. The Balinese Hindus are a perfect example of good Muslims. That is what troubles me. The Balinese Hindus are what Muslims should be but are not. And I really need to find out why this is so even if it is the last thing I do. __._,_.___