REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA - Sail Indonesia 2012, or Sail Morotai, ended today, September 15 after the opening on September 12. President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono inaugurated the Sail Morotai peak event at Daruba beach, Morotai island, on September 15.
Earlier, Coordinating Minister for People`s Welfare Agung Laksono expressed hope that Sail Indonesia 2012 would help speed up economic development in North Maluku, particularly in the tourism and fisheries sectors. "The fisheries sector in North Maluku has the potential to contribute foreign exchange worth trillions of rupiahs to the nation if it is well managed," the minister said.
"The waters off Morotai island are home to some 191 species of fish, with a production capacity of 148,473.8 tonnes annually," he added. "Such maritime potential is expected to attract investors from Japan, South Korea, China and Taiwan. In fact, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on investment in the fisheries sector was signed by a Taiwanese company and a local partner called Jababeka," Agung stated.
The natural beauty of Morotai island, which is situated in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, is also expected to attract tourists. The Sail Morotai organizing committee and the Morotai Island administration have jointly developed the necessary infrastructure and facilities in order to ensure the event`s success.
The Indonesian government suggested in 2010 that Taiwan take charge of the overall development of Morotai. The two countries have held talks on the issue several times since then. Andrew Hsia, Taiwan`s representative to Indonesia, said the establishment of direct charter flights to Indonesia was necessary for Taiwan to develop Morotai island. At least 100 World War II veterans, who were stationed in Morotai and other neighbouring islands during the War, were invited to attend the opening ceremony.
Historical military base
Morotai was used as a military base by the Allied forces in their battle against the Japanese in Asia-Pacific during the war.The North Maluku provincial administration has built a World War II Museum in Morotai, inaugurated during the Sail Morotai event.
A total of 133 yachts from 22 countries taking part in Sail Morotai set sail from Darwin, Australia, on July 28. There were 47 yachts from Australia, 20 from the US, nine from Canada, eight from New Zealand, seven from the Netherlands, and six from England, among others.
The rally participants were divided into two teams, which would take two different routes to Indonesia. The eastern route would pass through Saumlaki, Banda, Buru, Ternate, Wakatobi and Takabonerate, while the western route would be through Kupang, Alor, Lembata, Ende, and Riung.
Earlier, Head of the North Maluku and Youth and Sports Affairs Office Djafar Umar recently said the guests and participants was entertained with Soya-Soya dance on September 15. "The Soya-soya dance will be performed below the sea level by around 100 divers from the Indonesian Diving Sports Association (POSI) branch of North Maluku," he stated.
"The dance will be performed besides a welcoming dance involving about 1,000 dancers in the presence of President Yudhoyono," Umar said.
The Soya-Soya dance depicts the heroic struggle of a Babullah Empire soldier, named Soya, who led an attack against Portuguese soldiers during the colonial era in order to retrieve the remains of Sultan Babullah. "In Sail Belitung, there was a chess game under the sea. In Sail Bunaken, a red-and-white flag was hoisted below the sea level. And now in Sail Morotai, we will present the underwater Soya-Soya dance," he added.
Sail Morotai 2012 is the latest in the series of annual international sailing events held by the Indonesian government since 2000, with different islands being selected each year as the venue of the race. Sail Bunaken was held in North Sulawesi in 2009, while Sail Banda was organised in Maluku in 2010. Last year, Belitung island hosted Sail Wakatobi.