HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Mar. 20, 2013

by 8 Degrees of Latitude

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences 

Parodi or Parody: You Choose

Anyone expecting considered application of justice – as in court decisions based on fair assessments and police arresting people on the basis of tip-offs rather than because of tips – would be well advised to forgo the dubious delights of attempting resolution in Indonesia.

Spiritual guru Anand Krishna was arrested in 2010 and charged with sexual harassment on the basis of a complaint from one of his former students. He was first convicted in the South Jakarta Supreme Court and was then, after one of the original trial judges was removed for inappropriate contact with the prosecution, exonerated and freed by a bench headed by another judge. She subsequently found herself transferred to Bangka Island, by the way.

The prosecutors then contrived to get Krishna retried via one of the convenient cart-and-horse-size loopholes that pepper Indonesia’s criminal code for the benefit of prosecutors whose premier skills lie in own-goals. He was sentenced to two-and-a-half years’ jail.  He was arrested at his Ubud ashram amid a near riot on February 13.

Krishna’s Hindu-based teachings are very liberal about the essential freedoms of life.

Another curious incident that relates to the law and its stewardship has recently come to notice. It involves Susi Johnston, an American who has lived here for years, is a true friend of the Balinese people, is a lovely person, and is relatively recently widowed. She is also in trouble, and prima facie this seems to be for highly questionable reasons.

Eighteen months ago she lost her Italian husband, Bruno Piazza, to cancer. She believed that on his death continued occupancy of their villa at Mengwi would pass to her in his will and that it would remain her home as he would have wished and under the nominee he had assigned. Unfortunately it seems the nominee – as the legal title holder – had other ideas. Equally unfortunately for Johnston she appears to have what might euphemistically be called very powerful connections. That’s the way things work here.

We do not know the full facts of the property issue. But we do know that the nominee system, farce though it may be, is not directly designed to facilitate avaricious property acquisition by a nominee who has been paid to lend his name to a legal fiction, or to facilitate its profitable transfer to others of his acquaintance.

The full circumstances of Johnston’s situation are not clear either. It does appear she was advised to reach some compromise in regard to her villa but chose not to do so. As a result she has been monstered – there’s really no other word for it – by hired thugs and others.

Earlier this month Johnston posted her version of the story of three home invasions she suffered in February. It appeared on a Facebook group page engagingly called Mugged in Bali. It quickly disappeared, though not before The Diary took the precaution of cutting and pasting a copy. A few days later she was arrested when police found drugs in her car.  It is remarkably easy to find drugs in someone’s possession if they’ve been planted. We know this happens. Everyone knows this happens. Fortunately, she was released after only a few days of detention for investigation – and we heard shortly afterwards that the police were now interested in talking to the perpetrators of the plot to incarcerate her. Some clouds do have silver linings, then.

But the essential lesson remains: In both the Krishna and Johnston cases the word “travesty” comes to mind. In Bahasa Indonesia travesty is “parodi”. How apt!

Something smells. And it’s not the roses.

Ah, rack off

Hector’s helper had a robust exchange with an Ubud bien-pensant the other day over the little matter of adulteration of drinks (including arak) for sale in bars in Bali and Lombok. It arose because said helper had posted a comment about criminality. In response, Nyoman Wen scribbled to the effect that Hector’s helper was unread and ignorant.

The Good Wen is another former Sydney personage who has transmigrated, apparently in almost every sense. He acquired the essence of guruhood on Mangrove Mt, New South Wales, and these days dispenses advice and does not take kindly to the bleeding obvious disturbing his personal karma.

So for the record: Whatever foolish village youths do in the matter of adulterating the arak they get drunk on, people who sell drinks over the counter anywhere are engaged in commercial practices that are – or would be if anyone bothered – licensed, regulated and subject to excise and tax laws. Bar owners who doctor drinks know what they’re doing and that what they’re doing is wrong: Especially when it kills people, which far too often it does.

 

8 Million’s a Crowd

According to figures recently released by the government, 8,044,462 tourists visited Indonesia last year, around 5 percent more than in 2011. And according to Retno Sulistyaningsih, director of tourism development at the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy, the increase is due to the better quality and variety of tourism products offered in Indonesia.

He cited in particular one of the ministry’s flagship programmes, the Destination Management Organization (DMO), which manages sustainable tourism destinations in 15 locations around Indonesia, including “regional Bali”.

We don’t know whether to be happy or sad about this news. We thought there were more tourists about, possibly even 8 million of them. But it seemed to us that they’d all come to Bali and hired cars so they could relax in paradise by crawling up and down the Ngurah Rai Bypass.

English as she is Broke

The English language is under pressure everywhere: Even the dullest amongst us would have realised this by now. Its functional demise is being hastened by the internet and the illiterate clowns who inhabit it. (We saw something recently in which some cyber-world lunatic wrote that emails would be better restricted to 50 words or less. Unfortunately it didn’t say these should be correctly spelt and rendered in something resembling a grammatical structure.)

One would not, of course, expect Tolstoy to produce War and Peace for Twitter. Though it is amusing to speculate on what he might suggest as an alternative use for his quill to anyone who put such a proposal to him. Nowadays we are not believed likely to read much beyond a beer coaster, either in word count or cerebral content. Instead we are considered to have the attention spans of dead ants.

All sorts of people want to blog nowadays. One popped up the other day saying he (or possibly she) would really like to get into travel blogging and adding: “Been blogging about life and travel in SE Asia fir a few years now but really don’t know anything about blogging per say.”

Sadly this indicates that the writer actually knows very little about anything much at all, per se.

It’s a Breeze

How nice it was to see The Samaya Seminyak coming in at No. 3 on the Trip Advisor top 10 list of the most luxurious hotels in Asia, released recently. We’ve always had a soft spot for the property, and especially for its lovely beachside bar and restaurant (Breeze, named for its prevailing ambience). We go there occasionally to remember when we were to be counted among the spending classes.

It really is a great spot, the more so for having Ray Clark as general manager; and for being the place of favourite resort of some lovely Sydney friends.

The property has recently been remodelled and is now even better than ever. No. 1 next year, guys!

Two other Bali properties made it into the top 10: The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah at Ubud came in at No. 4 and The Samaya Ubud was in seventh spot. A third Ubud property, Komaneka at Monkey Forest, was 13th.

Full House

Australian wellness person Hayley Lawrence, who operates the Radiant Being centre at Albany on the bracing southernmost coast of Western Australia is – understandably, given that our breezes are generally balmy – something of a Bali fan. She reports almost a full house for her next “follow your bliss retreat” involving yoga and other delights at Batu Karang Resort and Spa on Nusa Lembongan on April 15-20. One held last year attracted very favourable comment from participants. There’s a second retreat planned for October this year.

There is still (just, be quick) space to get on the programme if you’re interested. Full details are at www.radiantbeing.com.au or you can email info@radiantbeing.com.au.  And Lawrence says you can have 10 percent off if you read about it here and mention that fact when you book.

It’s good to see the deepening development of mutually profitable West Australian-Bali business relations. And a bit of pampering never goes astray.

Hector’s Diary is published in the Bali Advertiser, out fortnightly in print, and on the newspaper’s website http://www.baliadvertiser.biz. Hector tweets @scratchings and is on Facebook (Hector McSquawky)