8degreesoflatitude

THINGS THAT INTEREST, ENGAGE AND ENRAGE

Month: February, 2014

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Feb. 19, 2014

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

 

Let’s Hear No More of Her

Schapelle Corby, celebrity jailbird by Australian media acclaim and blessed (though that’s hardly the word) with a scrofulous family, has finally been freed on parole. That’s a good outcome, far too long delayed but welcome nonetheless. The excessive jail term to which she was sentenced in 2005 will forever be an indictment of a judicial system that risks being seen as one that punishes defendants for the gutter prattle of their mothers and others and sentences them on the basis that their crimes have brought Indonesia into disrepute.

Anyone who watches Indonesia with an objective mind knows that the shenanigans that go on here 24/7 are the real embarrassment. There’s no need to co-opt photogenic teary-eyed little foreign “victims” to the cohort that damages Indonesia’s reputation. There’s a whole home-grown industry that already does that very well.

No need, that is, unless you genuinely haven’t noticed the rampant corruption and criminality, bomb-mad cloth-heads, law-exempt Islamic rabble-rousers, and the endemic social deprivation that blights the country.

That noted, we also note the improbabilities in Corby’s story when she was caught at Ngurah Rai in 2004 (“I didn’t know my boogie board was loaded” is a lame excuse even for someone with a “vacant” stamp on their forehead). We note that the marijuana is said to have come from South Australia, a prime growing spot because the state’s dry climate gives its weed a special zing. And while we’re noting, we should remember that Bali was (and still is) a transit point for drug smuggling. “Why send weed to Bali?” is not a legitimate question. Jakarta, Surabaya and other large Indonesian cities are the real drug markets here.

The post-parole fracas that Corby, her family and hangers-on, and sections of the Australian media engaged in covers them with something far less fragrant than glory. Corby in particular appears to have learned nothing. It is possible that she is so disoriented that she’s barely functional, and if so that’s a tragic shame. Those who care for her should help with her rehabilitation if that’s the case.

Her parole rules, of which she was advised last August, exclude unauthorized media interviews. An objective observer might conclude that the mob surrounding her still thinks it can play the Indonesians for suckers. That’s not just rude. It’s plain stupid.

 

No Fanfares, Just Results

It was nice to escape the distasteful scrimmage of the Corby parole freedom media event by focusing instead on something that’s really positive at Kerobokan Jail. It’s not a nice place, the prison, though none actually is, anywhere, since a prison is not meant to be a holiday resort.

But by Indonesian standards Kerobokan is better than many. That’s something else those fixated on the “Phwaar” rating of incarcerated foreign chicks with happy-snap blue eyes should think about now and then.

Lizzie Love – one of the feistier ladies who lunch around these parts (some of them are truly terrifying, but we seem to have worked out with Lizzie a comfortable way to get a lot of giggles) – tells us of another great scheme at the jail that should be up and running soon. It’s in addition to the wide range of benefits available to inmates who choose to take part.

These include education, skills building, welfare support and an innovative organic garden project supervised by the ROLE Foundation and Canggu Rotary designed to provide fresh vegetables for the prison.

The latest scheme augments existing animal husbandry facilities at the jail and is called the KK9 Inmate Assistance Dog Training Project. Kennels are being built. Organizers are looking for some dog-friendly assistance, which should be widely available given the strong presence here of animal welfare outfits.

We’ll be keeping an eye on that project in particular. From our perspective it’s one that packs plenty of woof power.

 

Smile, Please

There’s a fun evening with benefits at that fine dine and recline venue Cocoon, Seminyak, on Saturday (Feb. 22). Rotary Club of Bali Seminyak and the Smile Foundation (Yayasan Senyum Bali whose leading light is the redoubtable Mary Northmore) have organized a fundraiser billed Have a Heart to support the foundation’s great work with children who suffer disfigurement from cleft palates and other cranio-facial conditions. Harris Hotels is a sponsor.

The show, with music and both live and silent auctions, starts at 6.30pm with dinner at 8pm. Tickets cost Rp800K. It’s a great cause so get along there if you can.

Dress is “semi-formal”. According to the Diary’s new style adviser Lizzie Love, that means the guys where nice shirts and slacks. The ladies will all dress to kill as usual. It’s a girl thing. We’re grateful to Lizzie for this sartorial guidance. Where we come from, semi-formal means you wear matching thongs (flip-flops).

 

Say Hello

We were doing our day job the other day, out in the cyber world, when we chanced upon Linda Coles, content and relationship marketer, speaker and author of a useful social entrepreneurial self-help book named Start With Hello. Well, we said hello and it worked.

Coles is a very positive person. She bills herself as living and working in Sunny New Zealand. Perhaps Auckland gets out from under that long white cloud now and then. No, seriously, NZ is a great place and it’s brimming with entrepreneurial people.

Well, that’s probably brumming, come to think of it. But no matter: Kiwis might all say yis instead of yes and spend a lot of time wishing they were down at the bitch ketching fush, but they’re OK. That’s if you can forgive them for always beating the rest of the world at rugby. It’s a shocking crime that the best part of the match, if you’re barracking for the others, is the Haka before kick-off. Still, we’d like to see more Kiwis here. Nowadays as we’ve noted before it’s possible – Yis! – for more of them to get to Bali without an unnecessary (and often unnecessarily lengthy) stop on that other big island that lies between us and them.

It’s worth dropping by bluebanana.co.nz. Coles’ primers on social networking (she has also written a book titled Learn Marketing with Social Media in 7 Days) are very useful.

 

Have a Nice Stay

A little statement finally fluttered from the office of the Australian minister for foreign affairs on Feb. 11, one on which the Diary, the soul of discretion, had been waiting for some time. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop announced the appointment of Majell Hind as Australia’s new consul-general in Bali and noted she had already taken up the post. So welcome, Ms Hind. Have a nice stay.

Hind is a career foreign service officer, most lately of the Australian Embassy in Kabul. Bali is, on balance, a softer posting. It has its own special conditions though, including a consistent stream of Aussie travellers who have come to grief somehow or other (they never seem to know why, themselves, which is a big part of the problem).

Her predecessor, Brett Farmer, left the fortified building on Feb. 5.

 

It’s the Money

As is traditionally the case in arguments over land being alienated for development, Bali’s predicament has yet again been laid at the feet of outside investors. The rector of the National Education University, Professor Gede Sri Darma, has lately felt compelled to join the rising chorus warning that this poses a threat to the people of Bali. He says they risk becoming a landless underclass on their own island.

The professor has a point. But sadly it’s a moot one. It would be relatively easy to control land sales in Bali if anyone took any notice of the laws. Zoning restrictions can be very useful. Foreign investment controls are sensible (though an increasing component of property investment here is Indonesian and is driven by the rapacious Wegotalldamoney tribe).

Clear division of regulatory powers would be a great idea. The poor Governor is still trying to get the regents to acquire some common sense. The regents are heads of local governments and should be subordinate in all respects. Their tastes quite naturally run in the other direction. Unfortunately national legislation on devolution gives them every reason to argue that way.

Then again, if Balinese landowners really don’t want to lose their land, they only have to tell acquisitive buyers to go take a running jump. But it’s the money, you see. Bali’s real problem is that it is now a monetized entity. Traditional values always take a back seat in those conditions.

 

Enduring Sole

Browsing through LinkedIn, as he does, Hector’s helper chanced the other day upon an employment advertisement placed by Nike, the fast-shoe-shuffle people. It was for a Senior Sustainability Consultant – Energy in Jakarta.

Hector is on Twitter @scratchings

Clumsy Confections on all Sides

Nick Feik, editor of the online newspaper PoliticsOz, wrote this in his editorial note today (Feb. 17):

TERRITORIAL TENSIONS

The Indonesian government had only just finished protesting to Australian ambassador Greg Moriarty over the Abbott government’s border protection policies when its foreign minister Marty Natalegawa was again fronting the media to object to Australian conduct.

On Friday it was revealed that Indonesian armed forces believe the Australian navy breached its maritime borders knowingly and intentionally, on several occasions.

But yesterday Natalegawa was referring to the latest spying allegations reported in theNew York Times, that the Australian Signals Directorate had listened in and passed on to the US the communications of an American law firm which was representing Indonesia in trade discussions with America. The Australian and US governments have also been sharing mass telecommunications intercepts, according to the new Snowden leaks.

Indonesia’s patience with the Australian government is now threadbare.

In news that may or may not be related, a fleet of Chinese naval vessels has passed through Indonesian territorial waters close to Christmas Island, in what was describedby the Jakarta Post as an unprecedented exercise. American secretary of state John Kerry, visiting Indonesia this week, will doubtless urge Indonesia not to accommodate China’s increasingly aggressive territorial manoeuvres. For its part, Indonesia plans to raise Australia’s naval incursions into its waters with Kerry, as well as the raft of spying allegations.

But as these discussions will be conducted behind closed doors, we can only guess at the real state of affairs, and try to read the coded language of international diplomacy.

“It is the responsibility of (US & Australia) … to salvage their bilateral relations with Indonesia,” said Natalegawa.

Whereas Julie Bishop maintains that relations with the Indonesian government are “very positive”.

This is all fine, so far as it goes. Unfortunately it doesn’t go far enough. It takes no notice of the other side of the coin.

It is, granted, foolish to rattle the cage with the Indonesians in the lead-up to the legislative and presidential elections this year. Some of the official comment from the Australian side has been unhelpful. Some might say gauche.

But this confection of peril, for that is what all this is, essentially, gives Indonesian politicians an opportunity to focus on foreign impertinence rather than the substantial policy failures at home for which they are responsible. It risks inflaming public feelings by banging the nationalist drum when no such response is justified.

So yes, in regard to the spying allegations, both Australia and the U.S. have broken the first rule of intelligence-gathering, which is “Don’t get caught.” But even there, there’s a rider. They got caught because of the malfeasance of Edward Snowden, another of the bothersome clowns who – armed with mega-data – declare that they are setting out to save the world.

The spying row aside, Australia’s deep problem with Indonesia over the so-called boat people is also not entirely of Canberra’s commission. Indonesia says it doesn’t want asylum seekers in the country, yet until very recently it has done little or nothing to stop them.

The problem is that people are rightly free to travel and are entitled, with the required visas, to travel anywhere they want. In the case of asylum seekers arriving in Indonesia, it’s what happens then that matters. They disappear and become the clients (they are not the victims) of people smugglers.

In the Indonesian fashion, where sluggish and inattentive bureaucracy slumbers at its desk and corruption is virtually an official pastime, nothing much is done to stop the people smugglers. Until someone complains – for example Canberra – and someone in Indonesia stirs themselves into action. Generally, this energy is temporary. That’s what Indonesia is like.

Add to this the fact that from the Indonesian perspective the best policy option is to ignore the presence of people intending to commit a crime (leaving an Indonesian port without notice) because this will remove them from Indonesia. It passes the problem, such as it is and since it is politically defined as a problem in Australia, onto Canberra. Let them deal with it, is the view.

The international political problem has been worsened by the Abbott Government’s even harder line on boats approaching Australian waters. It has taken this approach for domestic political reasons. There is no security threat present. The people on board the boats (excepting the remote chance that some fanatic might be posing as a refugee) are fixed on one aim: securing a better life for themselves and their families.

This needs to be seen in context too. So-called economic refugees are now a fact of global life. They are part of the new international political architecture. Sometime soon, Australia will have to find the moral fortitude to deal with the real problem and not its minuscule side-effect. Better to work for proper global management of elective population movement than buy lifeboats so you can get the navy to send the few unfortunates you find breaching your maritime zone back to Indonesia.

It’s not in Australia’s interest to have a row with Indonesia. Especially on something as no-win as the boat people.

It bears mentioning that the unconscionable policy of the Australian government appears to have staunched the flow of boats. From that pernicious and narrow policy perspective, it would have to be judged a success.

But that doesn’t mean Australians – or their government – should forget that the real feet of clay on the difficult issue of asylum seekers transiting Indonesia are under big desks in Jakarta, not Canberra.

That’s something someone should tell Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, who apparently believes it is up to Australia (and the U.S.) to work to maintain relations with Indonesia.

Cooperation and neighbourliness is a two-way street.

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Feb 5, 2014

 

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

 

New ROLE for Netball

Netballers have always been vaguely worrying. Their skill at stopping dead when they get the ball – since unlike basketball you can’t run with it – is a complete mystery to people (such as your diarist) whose own sport is of a different sort entirely and requires you to run with the ball until a lot of very hefty boys push you into the mud and sit on you. Furthermore, netballers are all but exclusively girls who (lovely creatures though they may be) you wouldn’t want to risk putting offside.

So of course we snapped to attention the other day when Bec Hamer of the Bali Flames netball club got on to us about a new fundraising scheme the club’s put together to support the ROLE Foundation.

The Flames have been going from strength to strength. Last year’s annual international invitational attracted 10 teams from Singapore, Thailand, Australia and Indonesia. This year 16 teams are down to compete including interest from New Zealand. That Auckland-Bali Air NZ service is clearly paying dividends.

The club, like many in Bali, has a strong commitment to community service. The Flames chose the ROLE Foundation, whose founder is social entrepreneur Mike O’Leary, because it focuses on empowering and educating disadvantaged Balinese women.  

Bec tells us the Flames have handed over a donation of Rp5.2 million from their netball tournament last year. She visited ROLE and spoke with O’Leary recently and is impressed with its training program that teaches young women aged 18-21 computer and hospitality skills in cooperation with the international hotel sector.

“It is truly an amazing place where it is wonderful seeing people making a difference,” she says. We agree. This is also one instance in which you could permit your latent pyromania a brief outing and say may the Flames get higher and higher.

Must catch a game sometime, too.

 

Sing Along with Pete and Susi

It was sad, though of course the event was inevitable at some near date, that American song-master Pete Seeger played his final chord on Jan. 27. He was 94. His was the voice of the American and global protest movement. He sang conscience. He raised consciousness. He played great banjo. He wrote great songs.

Susi Johnston opened her villa at Pererenan on Sunday, Feb. 2, for a celebration of Seeger’s life and performing art. Along with the music she offered marshmallows. It’s people like Susi who put a shine into your life, if you let them.

As Susi herself noted, Feb. 2 was also Groundhog Day, the date when Punxsutawney Phil either casts a shadow or doesn’t when he emerges from his burrow in Pennsylvania to predict an early spring or rather a lot more winter.

They made a movie of the same name, which we’ve seen countless times. Here in Bali it often seems like the movie version of Groundhog Day.

 

General Salute

Australia’s new de facto head of state is a military man whose command role in the international intervention in East Timor in 1999 brought him to Indonesian attention. Among some in the Australian media, the fact that General Peter Cosgrove had been given this gig poses a risk of reigniting disagreement between Jakarta and Canberra.

Why this should be thought to be so is a mystery. The Governor-General of Australia has no political role. As in Canada, New Zealand and a few other places that were once imperial and are still monarchies, the G-G formally represents The Queen and signs all the bits of paper that heads of state get to sign. The prime minister is head of government.

This and next year are significant commemorative and ceremonial occasions for Australia. This year marks 100 years since the outbreak of World War I and 2015 is the Centenary of ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) that is understood, through the landing at Gallipoli and the ensuing months of fighting the Turks, to be the defining moment in forming Australian nationhood.

Having a real general as Chief Nob at ANZAC Cove at Gallipoli on that and other flag-waving occasions is a great idea. In the meantime, if by chance any of Australia’s neighbours notice that Cosgrove’s appointment highlights the social benefit of democratic generals committed to public service rather than strutting autocrats interested in political power and private enrichment, then that too will be a good thing.

Cosgrove takes over next month when incumbent G-G Quentin Bryce’s five-year term ends. Bryce, who is the Australian leader of the opposition’s mother-in-law, has done a good job.

 

Erk! Irked by an Urk

We witnessed an intemperate occasion one day recently outside the Circle K shop near the Puri Gading intersection at Bukit Jimbaran. A people-mover had stopped roadside to let one of its passengers out for a purchase within and – in the nature of parking practice here – had blocked vehicles in the parking area that might wish to leave.

One vehicle did. Its driver did what you do here, which is lightly and politely toot the horn twice and by sign language suggest that moving the other vehicle forward – in this case by about a metre, a manoeuvre for which there was ample space – would allow the other car to leave.

From the front passenger door of the offending conveyance then leapt a Bule of fierce demeanour and disastrously unkempt hair, aged in his late forties (at a guess). He advanced on the tooter and rapped on the window. The tooter lowered his window. “We’re not moving!” was the message delivered to him, in one of those razor-wire Australian accents from which strong and brave people all over the world run away and lock their doors. “We’ll be five minutes.”

Fortunately the driver of his conveyance was Indonesian and had readily understood the request. While the “we’re-not-moving (so go and get…)” message was being delivered, the little bus was in fact moving forward by just the required distance.

The tooter smiled and pointed this out to his unwelcome visitor, offered a short suggestion to the effect that the visitor should depart and precisely how he should do so, and pushed the up button on the window as he reversed away.

 

That’s Karma

We have always believed that when one errs, the thing to do is to stand up and admit it. This is what used to be called doing the honourable thing. Conscience does not permit evasion. Such practices are nowadays much less readily found. Especially here in Bali where any defaulter can apparently reasonably advance a claim that it was his or her friend who did it.

But it’s not just here. Across the western world, where once you took things on the chin, if not like a man, excuse has become the preferred option. Perhaps you have stolen something? Not your fault. Your father used to yell at you, your mother denied you the comforts of custard, and you were bullied in the school yard.

Thus we must report that karma is ever watchful and a horrid thing. It loves delicious irony. In an item on Jan. 8 we playfully took Morgana of Cocoon to task for saying (in print, elsewhere) that she didn’t know where the year had gone. We suggested it was all a matter of mathematics. So it is. But we then wrote, “It’s the Year of the Monkey in 2014.”

It’s not, of course. It’s the Year of the Horse. The Monkey’s next appearance on the 12-year cycle is in 2016. Our maths is defective too. Doh!

 

So Sad

Late in January a sad little post popped up on Facebook from Dian and Barbara Cahyadi, who publish the useful fortnightly Lombok Guide.

It asked this: “Does anyone know anything about an Italian tourist (named Ginevra) who died in Lombok early December 2013 (apparently between 8-13 Dec)? Possibly drowned? Family in Italy are asking. Thank you.”

It was a reminder, should any be needed, that Lombok (along with other parts of Indonesia) is missing many of the markers in matters of policing, public safety and administration.

It’s true that this benefits many people, foreigners among them, who come here to get lost for all sorts of reasons. It’s possible that this one wanted to get lost. But it beggars belief that the authorities haven’t advised the grieving parents of a tourist, whose name and possible manner of death are apparently known, of the results of any investigation.

 

That Other Cocoon

Louise Cogan’s Cocoon Spa in Seminyak has just celebrated two years in business in the broadly defined cosmetic medicine tourism sector. In any business, the setting up period is likely to present little problems. The cautious among us remember the old adage, that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. The wrinkles must all be ironed out, then. Good. Congratulations! 

 

Hector is on Twitter @scratchings