As he arrived at his office, Denpasar Mayor I.B. Rai Dharmawijaya Mantra immediately turned on his computer and started browsing the web, not to mention the Yahoo Messenger (YM).
His YM list included names of city officials, from agency, office to division heads. "We have been communicating through YM for the past year. We keep in touch by phone or meet if the matter is urgent," said the mayor, who is better known as Rai Mantra.
Denpasar is the youngest second-level autonomous regional administration in Bali, after it officially separated from Badung regency in 1992. Denpasar, situated in the center of Bali Island, initially spanned 127.78 square kilometers, but the Serangan Island reclamation project has extended its area by 380 square hectares.
It encompasses four districts - North, South, East and West Denpasar. In spite of its status as the provincial capital, parts of it are agriculturally-based. Its irrigated farmland spans around 5,547 hectares and unirrigated farmland covers 10,001 ha. Its main source of income is tourism, supported by the agricultural and service sectors.
According to Rai Mantra, who is also a businessman, the Internet is an integral part of his administration. He is active in promoting Internet use among civil servants, students and members of the general public. Every office within the administration, owns at least one computer unit with Internet access.
The municipality has initiated the cyberschool program at 25 junior and senior high schools to date.
The municipality is currently setting up an information technology-based education zone at Jl. Kamboja, Denpasar, equipped with a smart building that provides Internet, multimedia and other facilities, and intends to turn it into a free hotspot area.
The central government has provided a smart van, equipped with four computer units, with a plasma television which will present educational and cultural programs at public places, such as fields, exhibition centers, tourist sites and villages, as part of the drive to promote Internet use.
Besides that, a farm community in Peguyangan, North Denpasar, recently served as a model for integrated farming involved Internet-based, or e-commerce marketing.
Leaders of the group will be provided with training and participate in comparative studies in agriculturally-advanced areas. Human resource development will also target small and medium scale entrepreneurs and employees of cooperatives. The administration will also provide training and capital assistance to handicraft workers.
A business incubator, or a small trade center, is currently being planned at the Kumbasari Handicraft Market. It will also act as an information center on products, prices and vendors, as well as an e-commerce training center for vendors.
In an effort to minimize the presence of middlemen and corruption, the Denpasar municipal administration last year set up an integrated public service center for license applications, where people can arrange for their papers and obtain information on various kinds of permits under one roof.
The municipality has also provided on-line services for identity card applications. Residents can have access to forms, send them through the Internet, and are only required to come to the office to be photographed and pay for the service.
Those who wish to extend their ID cards, but are out of town, can send their latest data and photographs. The moment an ID card is ready, it will be sent to the applicant's address.
"Thanks to the IT facilities, everything is made easier," said Rai Mantra. According to him, the initiatives are in line with his mission and vision to make Denpasar a center of information technology and culture.
Culture here, he said, was not only a matter of tradition, but included the seven elements of the spiritual, arts, letters, community, education, technology and the economy.
To realize that, he said human and environmental resource improvement, technological prowess and capital were necessary.
The city administration will also provide collateral-free loans by working together with the Bali Provincial Development Bank.
The municipality will also promote Bali traditional cuisines, by involving food sellers in various events, such as the city's anniversary and the Sanur Village Festival.
He however acknowledged that Denpasar's spatial planning was still ineffective and had outpaced the city's growth, citing the Renon area, which is long known as home to provincial administration offices, but is now filled with shops and food stalls.