HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Apr. 30
by 8 Degrees of Latitude
His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences
A Shocking Disgrace
Someone made a video of quarantine officials killing 31 dogs by cruelly amateurish injection at Gilimanuk on Apr. 15 (it looked like strychnine from the way the dogs died). It doesn’t matter that the video was made by someone who had planned to illegally ship dogs to Bali and didn’t care enough to pay to save his own animals.
What do matter are two issues that have returned to the debating table. First, that because of the nature of social media these days, the inhumanity of what occurred has been seen around the world. Bali’s carefully nurtured folkloric and touristic image as the Island of the Gods has been damaged – yet again – by the clownish actions of the authorities.
Second, the action was justified by reference to regulations that prohibit transhipment of dogs and some other mammals as an anti-rabies measure. Those regulations are in place legitimately and should be observed by everyone, but again that’s not the point.
But rabies is not epidemic on Bali. If the report we saw in the Jakarta Post is accurate in quoting a quarantine officer at Gilimanuk as saying it is, the gentleman and the newspaper are profoundly misinformed.
However, the disease is now endemic. This is because of six years of government action and inaction, that deadly duo, and prevarication.
First, it failed to respond in time when the first human cases occurred in 2008. In time-honoured fashion it then (a) engaged in hideous and counterproductive culling campaigns alongside international and NGO action to vaccinate free-living dogs and reduce their numbers by sterilization programs; (b) indulged in the usual siphoning off of funds to line official pockets; and (c) became embarrassed and then angry when people told them they weren’t doing things the right way and when its sorry succession of “rabies free” target dates could not be met.
It’s true that long held practices and beliefs here relating to animals and their care require significant education to overcome. Perhaps the government should attend classes too if it insists on writing the reports on rabies control that go to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the American based World Society for the Protection of Animals.
Rigorous accuracy in formal reporting is an essential bureaucratic skill.
The perpetrator probably doesn’t care, if in fact he knows, that the elderly expat lady he pulled off a motorbike and mugged and severely bashed in Jl Drupadi in Seminyak on Apr. 10 is still in a coma in hospital and very ill indeed. Muggers are not misfits. That’s a cosy western fiction. They’re vile little criminals.
Her name is Valeria. She is Italian and has lived in Bali for 30 years with her husband and son. They are not rich, except in the relative sense in which Balinese and other Indonesians view foreigners. Fate has dealt them a cruel blow. They have no medical insurance and € 170,000 is now needed to fly her home to Italy for critical care at state expense. (Mugger to note: This is equivalent to Rp 2.7 billion. Did she have anything like that in her purse?).
An appeal for funds was started by friends. Money raised so far has been spent on daily medical bills. If you can, donate here:
It’s unwise to resist a mugger or any violent person. But in situations such as that which cruelly afflicted Valeria, instinct tends to prevail. On that score, we note that in another mugging incident recently – not the one in which a French woman was similarly robbed in Kuta as she rode her motorbike – the perpetrator got a painful lesson. The 15-year-old girl he attempted to rob chased him down and put her karate skills to work.
Perhaps the police will notice that motorcycle banditry is getting a bit out of hand again and do something. It’s not just foreign women who are targeted after all. Local women are just as much at risk.
The police are not usually visible unless they’re flashing their lights to push through the traffic because they’re late for tea, or are traffic police out collecting lunch money from the day’s preferred cohort of motorized miscreants. And public safety on the streets is anyway better left to local communities to organize.
In Bali that means the banjars. The Basangkasa banjar in Seminyak operates a security system using local village guards. It’s paid for by the local ATMs, the foreigners who live there, but that’s just the way things are here. It keeps Jl Oberoi and part of Jl Drupadi on the “safe zone” list. Few muggers would want to risk mixing it with the Pecalang.
It’s an idea that could be adopted widely.
He Came Bearing Gifts
Diary and Distaff had a lovely lunch on Easter Sunday with an old friend, Robin Osborne, who was transiting Bali on his way to Kupang. We went to the Jimbaran Beach Club, just along from the fish cafés, and ate and drank lightly and watched the tide come in and go out while we talked of many things.
There was rather a lot to talk about. We hadn’t seen him since 1983 in Port Moresby when we were all jobbing for the yellow press. He was at our wedding there in 1982. We agreed it would be unwise to wait another three decades for Reunion II, the flesh being mortal and the march of time inexorable.
Osborne is no stranger to Indonesia or to Bali. He was until fairly recently with the Northern Territory health department where another Bali fan, Kon Vatskalis, was the health minister who pushed forward the Royal Darwin Hospital-Sanglah link.
One of Osborne’s missions on this trip was to look for rare Lombok weaves, in which he has a collector’s interest. He went to Lombok in search of same and stayed at Villa Sayang at Lingsar north of Mataram. In Bali he also visited Ubud where the navel-gazers are always worth watching.
He left us with a fine bottle of Taylor’s very drinkable red and the new book by Damon Galgut, Arctic Summer, which has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Its central character is the English novelist Morgan Forster (E.M. Forster). The Diary reads anything – even the labels on tins of baked beans – but Forster, although a writer who richly deserves his place in the Pantheon, had never seemed attractive as a subject. He was a repressed homosexual in the manner of his time, a womanish, waspish man.
Fortunately the world (largely) has moved on from conformist, proscriptive Victorian-Edwardian ill-humour and rudely intrusive desires to regulate the sexuality of others. And the book is tremendous. It was instantly devoured.
We’ve Been to Dubai Too
Though it might surprise Made Wijaya and his Jakarta based publisher Alistair Speirs to hear this, the Diary and the Stranger do share a view rather more often than either of them apparently believes.
Wijaya had a lovely line in his Stranger in Paradise column in Now Bali’s April edition that made a neat point and is certainly worth repeating. He was, he wrote, on his way to a Barong ceremony at Pura Dalem Tunon on the beach near the Ramada Bali Bintang at Tuban.
Tripping as lightly as he could over the 200 non-heritage metres required to reach the temple from the hotel on Jl Kartika Plaza, he had just passed a lone Batak singing Tie a Yellow Ribbon, widely believed locally to be a favourite with tourists, when his gimlet eye for cultural excrescence fell upon a large vacant space walled in by New Architecture.
He wrote: “We walked on the new dimly lit beach promenade, past a big empty restaurant called The Wharf (how do they come with these dumb names in a sea of rich local culture I think; hoteliers must just close their eyes and think of Dubai).”
Wijaya’s far from subliminal suggestion that the de-Bali-ing of Bali culture is a serious mistake and a clear danger to the island’s appeal is very much to the point. It’s true that it mightn’t worry the new tourists from Indonesia’s big cities, China and other smog-shrouded East Asian places, where crass is the new black.
Few visitors seeking unique cultural experiences would want to waste their money on a facsimile of the Big Durian, however.
Load of Rubbish
Three tonnes (3,000kg) of rubbish was collected from five kilometres of beaches at Seminyak, Kuta, Legian, Kedonganan and Jimbaran on Easter Saturday, as part of the 2014 Earth Day global program. Earth Day itself was on Apr. 22,
Six hundred residents and tourists took part in the clean-up, which was sponsored by Coca-Cola Amatil, Quiksilver and Garuda Indonesia.
Hector tweets @scratchings on Twitter