SYDNEY - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has slammed a reported move by the authorities in Bali to build a multi-storey restaurant on the site where 202 people were killed during the 2002 terror bombing in the Indonesian resort island, calling it "deeply disappointing".
Australian national broadcaster ABC reported on Thursday (April 25) that a building permit for the restaurant, which would house a monument to the victims on the top floor, has been issued by local authorities.
Shopkeepers who have been using the site of the Sari nightclub in Kuta, where a car bomb exploded outside, as a carpark have been told to vacate so construction can start on May 9, DPA reported.
In a series of tweets on Thursday evening, Mr Morrison said the decision by the Bali authorities was "deeply distressing". "Australia provided support and funding to establish a Peace Park on the ex-Sari Club site, for remembrance and quiet reflection," he said.
"Our Consul-General in Bali has been working tirelessly to resolve this issue. The Australian government will continue to work with the Indonesian authorities to seek to resolve this issue and ensure the memories and families of all those who were murdered in that shocking terrorist attack are properly respected," he added.
Survivors of the 2002 bombing, who for years have been trying to establish a peace park on the site with a memorial to those who were killed, have expressed their shock over the plan, DPA said.
With development details shrouded in secrecy, Australian bomb survivor Gary Nash fears the development will eventually end up as a multi-storey nightclub with a memorial on the fifth floor.
"That's an insult to everybody. Not only the Australians who were killed there but everybody... all the other nations who had people killed there... that land should be sacred, it should be kept apart," Mr Nash told the ABC.
Mr Nash survived a suicide bomber attack inside Paddy's Pub, which caused patrons to flee outside to near the Sari nightclub, where the second massive car bomb was detonated seconds later.
The smaller Paddy's site has been turned into a memorial for the 202 victims including 88 Australians, 38 Indonesians, 23 Britons, seven Americans, six Germans, five Swedes, four people from the Netherlands and France, three Danes and Swiss, and 21 from other countries.
Bali Peace Park Association chairman David Napoli said that while local authorities had supported reserving the site as a memorial park, multiple attempts to secure it have been thwarted.
"We've encountered a great deal of resistance from the (site) owners.
"One of the issues has been our inability to get in contact with the owner, and have a face-to-face conversation," Mr Napoli told the ABC.
A local government sign at the site describes the development as a "restaurant and monument" without further details.