So There!

HECTOR’S DIARY

HectorR

His regular diet of worms and other non-religious fare

The Cage, Bali

Saturday, May 20, 2017

THE Bali High Court has added a year to the sentence given to Australian woman Sara Connor, who was convicted over her part in the killing of Kuta policeman Wayan Sudarsa on Aug. 17 last year. The prosecution had appealed, saying that the original four-year sentence was too lenient. It did “not reflect the sense of justice”, the prosecution said in its appeal.

Well, five years for being culpable after the fact of murder (unlawful killing in the circumstances adjudicated by the trial court) hardly seems excessive. Connor might argue that she couldn’t stop the fight that erupted between her lover David Taylor, aka Nutso, and a policeman who on all the evidence had acquired her handbag in unexplained circumstances while she and Taylor were sleeping off the combined effects of alcohol and a round of horizontal folk dancing, but destroying evidence after the fact is not a defensible act. The extra year will effectively add about ten months to her jail time.

The Bali High Court is now led by the judge who presided over the trial of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok), the Christian Chinese Indonesian who was accused of blasphemy for citing the Qur’an in a political pitch to voters. Ahok lost the April gubernatorial election (which was always a likely outcome anyway). He was then sentenced to two years in jail.

Perhaps the prosecution in Ahok’s trial, which had sought a fine and a probationary penalty, would like to appeal the severity of the subsequent sentence. On any objective analysis it fails to reflect the sense of justice, after all, and the presiding judge is now suddenly out of the way. Ah well, just a thought.

May 23 UPDATE: The prosecution has in fact appealed against the sentence; it had sought a suspended sentence on a lesser charge. My original item above ought to have reflected these facts. Governor Ahok has withdrawn his own appeal, filed by his  legal team. 

The Circus is in Town

NEXT week Schapelle Leigh Corby is due to be deported from Indonesia following her three-year parole and previous prison time for the celebrated boogie-board drug crime of 2005. Immigration authorities will formally detain her, on or around May 27, before she is taken to the airport and put on a plane home to Australia, a trip she will make with her sister Mercedes, the gouge artist and Ralph Magazine topless cover girl. Presumably her passport will be stamped prohibited to enter Indonesia. We wish her well with the difficult process she will face in re-immersing herself in Australian life after twelve years away. Corby will celebrate her fortieth birthday on Jul. 10.

Ahead of all this activity, the Australian media is assembling for the feast. It brings to mind that line from Hotel California – they stab it with their steely knives but they just can’t kill the beast – because of the singular, self-interested focus the Americanised tabloid rags and TV infotainment bring to what used to be the sentient process of gathering news and reporting it. Thank goodness for the serious press.

We could blame the Kardashians, whose money and astonishing self-belief has been responsible for many woes, but that would be churlish. Or serial bankrupt property boosters, prevaricators and locker-room humourists, but President Trump apparently only listens to himself. He probably gets fewer raised eyebrows that way. So while they drone on – in Mark Burrows’ and Network Nine’s case literally, we hear; their little aerial spy-cam has been flying circuits over Schapelle’s place – we’ll just get on with our day.

Mercedes Corby, by the way, has managed to put off the next court hearing of the AVO (apprehended violence order) case brought against her by a former friend, financier and business partner in a failed eats and drinks establishment on Australia’s Gold Coast, the Corby family’s stamping ground, where she’d done all the dough again. The hearing date conflicted with her familial duties, we’re told.

A Fine Time

IT has always surprised us that VIN +, the very fine dining venue just back from the beach at Seminyak, is not on many more most-favoured lists. It doesn’t offer a view of the waves or the sound of crashing surf, of course, but it doesn’t get blow-the-food-off-your-plates sea breezes either, which is surely a plus. Its open-plan architecture provides conversational impetus for even the most challenged of small-talkers, its eclectic ambience is nothing short of brilliant, and the victuals and potable substances are first class.

So when we got an invitation from Shelley Epstone to join a table of eight for a Villa Maria Wine Dinner on Friday (May 19), we were very happy to go along. So was the Distaff, who also likes a party, and probably enjoyed being the only dinkum Aussie at the table (The Diary was an “authorised arrival” 46 years ago). It was a lovely evening. We chatted with chief Yakker Sophie Digby, shoeless Sole Man Robert Epstone, and Ines Wynendaele, who is top of our Most Favoured Belgians list.

Chef Ronald Tokilov’s menu was superb. It featured es timun (the honey green chilli sauce was divinely piquant), lobster bakso, tuna and es rujak, a nice duck confit (the sambal kelapa was very tasty) and dodol to die for. The Diary is a chocolate cake tragic, after all.

The New Zealand wine pairing was good. A 2015 Villa Maria Private Bin Dry Riesling with the es timun, 2013 Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc with the lobster, a 2015 Private Bin Chardonnay with the tuna, a nicely understated peppery 2014 pinot noir with the duck, and a 2014 cabernet merlot with the chocolate cake to finish. It was a doddle.

Minor Triumphs

THE Cage is in the midst of the latest minor works program and the spring cleaning that must follow. These are regular occurrences designed to keep leaks to a minimum, repair the damage caused by sneaky termites who manage to evade the defensive perimeter we have in place (obviously it’s not a Mexican wall) and replace loose bits of timber and tiles that have dropped off the building. Or, like the trellis over the garage below the pool, were threatening to do so. Such is life in Bali, where even strontium 90 would have half a half-life.

But we did get the red-for-hot dot on the relevant kitchen tap. Sometimes the gods of little things smile upon you.

35-Stretch

MONDAY (May 22) is a big day: The Diary and The Distaff mark thirty-five of married bliss, excusing the normal vicissitudes of life. That’s worth a drink or three.

HectorR

Hector writes a diary in the Bali Advertiser. It is published monthly. The next appears on May. 24.

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Dec. 26, 2012

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

Way Not to Go

It was interesting to read recently in the Bali Daily, the local wraparound masthead of the Jakarta Post newspaper, that university students here are protesting over a national government plan to eliminate teaching of the Balinese language from the school curriculum.  It was worrying, too, because such a plan threatens the unique culture of Bali and undermines the diversity that makes Indonesia the vibrant nation it is. The students are worried – understandably and quite naturally – that committing such an act of cultural vandalism would place the future of the language at risk.

An alliance of students from the State Hindu Dharma Institute, Dwijendra and Udayana universities and IKIP PGRI teachers college made this point – in Balinese dress – at a demonstration in Denpasar earlier this month. The Bali Daily reported alliance leader I Nyoman Suka Ardiyasa as saying:

“We fear that one day the Balinese language will be forgotten because students will no longer learn the subject in school, and also an increasing number of people no longer use the language nowadays.”

The critical interface between common sense and painful farce in policy development is often difficult to detect. But it is always vital to detect it and preferable that this beneficence takes place before someone steps in the do-do, rather than afterwards.
Removing Balinese language teaching from the curriculum is in line with the Education and Culture Ministry’s most recent policy on a new teaching curriculum, which proposes to amalgamate several different subjects into one.  Unique local content subjects taught only in schools in specific regions will be integrated into “art and culture” classes.
It would mean that learning the Balinese language – at present this is compulsory in elementary, junior and high schools – would be merged with art and culture, seriously limiting the opportunities for young Balinese to learn their traditional language.
A 1992 Bali law on language, letters and literature clearly stipulates the need to teach, develop and preserve the Balinese language. The 2003 National Education System Law  provides that the curriculums of basic and higher education should contain both art and culture and local content subjects.
According to statistics the number of people who can speak Balinese drops by 1 percent each year on average. As the students say, removing the language’s study from the curriculum will only worsen this invidious decline.

Bahasa Indonesia, the national language, is universally taught throughout the archipelago – from Sabang to Merauke, to borrow the title of President Sukarno’s 1950 speech on Independence Day that year and that of a very good 1995 travelogue by the British writer John Keay – and is naturally the lingua franca.  But the bottom line is that no language should ever be lost, or put at risk of being so. There’s still time for the national authorities to change their mind. They should do so.

See the Light

Speaking of cultural matters, we had a nice little Christmas and New Year message from the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival which was cheering on two counts: it indicated that the festival is now effectively a 12-month operation – there should be no peace for the wicked, or for organisers of important annual events – and it gave news of what the 2013 festival is shaping up to be.

The 2013 festival will be the tenth (regrettably referred to by the festival scribbler as the 10-Year Anniversary: perhaps the UWRF should run a workshop on tautology avoidance) and this is of course an important milestone. The theme of the 2013 festival (from Oct. 2-6 – put it in your diaries) is Habis Gelap Terbitlah Terang: Through Darkness to Light. This honours Kartini – Raden Ayu Kartini (1879-1904) – who is one of Indonesia’s designated national heroes. Since 1964, she has her own national day each year, on April 21.

Kartini’s concerns were not only in the area of the emancipation of women, but also other problems of her society. Kartini saw that the struggle for women to obtain their freedom, autonomy and legal equality was only a part of a wider movement.

She married the Regency Chief of Rembang (who already had three wives) against her wishes but to appease her ailing father; her new husband allowed her to establish a school for women in the Rembang Regency Office. Kartini’s only child, a boy, was born in September 1904 and she died of post-natal complications four days later, aged 25.

Inspired by her example the Dutch Van Deventer family established the R.A. Kartini Foundation which later built “Kartini’s Schools” for women in Semarang, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, Malang, Madiun, Cirebon and other places.

The UWRF says the 2013 theme will “open the floor” – we thought it was rayap that did that but never mind – to many global issues concerning women, education, gender equity, children and the human condition. The sub theme addresses heroes in society: in the banal and ungrammatical language of these times, “people who have, or are, making a difference.”

The festival’s Indonesian programme has already begun receiving works from Indonesian writers from Java, Sumatra and Sulawesi vying to become one of the 15 designated emerging Indonesian writers to be sponsored participants in the 2013 event. In 2012, a total of 279 writers submitted their works to the selection committee.

One interesting and sensible provision of the selection process is an independent curatorial board – its members are appointed for one year only to avoid favouritism and bring in new blood.

Something else that might interest many is a competition to design a poster illustrating the 2013 theme. The winner, whose work will be seen on posters everywhere promoting the festival, and during the festival itself, will also receive more than Rp20 million in travel and prizes. Submissions close on Feb. 7 and details are available on the UWRF website.

A Bradman Knock

Veteran Australian journalist and notable Friend of Hector, Bob Howarth – Bob and Hector’s helper go back a long way in the media world – celebrated 50 years in journalism recently. He was fortunate to be able to do so at Gibson Saraji’s fine Gorgonzola restaurant and bar on Jl Raya Uluwatu, Bukit Jimbaran. Saraji is a great host and his menu is on the upside of great.

Howarth, who started as a cadet journalist on the Brisbane Courier-Mail on Dec. 8, 1962 and went on to run newspapers in Papua New Guinea and Hong Kong, has been in Bali for three months working with the Institute for Peace and Democracy at Udayana University’s Jimbaran campus. He’s  had to go away for a spell – something about Christmas on his beloved Moreton Island in Queensland, it seems – but is due back in February to do some more work with institute executive director I Ketut Putra Erawan, who is a very engaging academic indeed.

The Gorgonzola party, on Dec. 8, was made notable by the presence of several of Howarth’s Indonesian “granddaughters” – sweet (and formidably intelligent) young things he taught at Padjadjaran University in Bandung. It was a fun night.

Also there for the celebrations was Brit author Tim Hannigan, whose new book Raffles and the British Invasion of Java has caused a few riparian ripples in the otherwise fairly placid waters of British imperial hagiography. He’d been in Bali to do book launches at Biku in Kerobokan (thanks for the excellent afternoon tea, Asri – and we’ll be back to try that new locally made apple cider) and at Janet DeNeefe’s Bar Luna Lit Club in Ubud.

We know of no plans in this regard, but Hannigan would be a prize catch for this year’s Ubud Writers and Readers Festival. Over to you, Janet.

Wedding Belles

We were honoured to receive an invitation to attend the nuptials arranged at a house just up the road for some connections of our redoubtable pembantu. We missed the tooth-filing – always such fun – but were compensated for this by the opportunity to view the activities of several beautifully and traditionally attired young Balinese women flitting about taking pictures on their iPads and sundry other items of cutting-edge technology.

Not for Prophet

In our Christmas message in the Diary published on Dec. 12 we recalled that Jesus is important to Muslims. We wrote that he was the third most important of Islam’s prophets. This was an error: we should have written fifth.

The point we were making is that while Muslims do not believe Jesus (Isa) was the son of God, he is revered as the 24th of Islam’s 25 prophets: Muhammad was the last. It is one of a number of interesting and powerful links between two of the great religions of The Book.

There is no formal hierarchy of prophets in Islam, but as the Holy Qur’an records, there are five who are most important as “prophets with resolution.” Here’s the relevant verse (33.7): “And remember We took from the prophets their covenant: As (We did) from thee (Muhammad): from Noah, Abraham, Moses, and Jesus the son of Mary: We took from them a solemn covenant.”

Hear Hear, Kitty

Facebook sometimes gives you a giggle, especially when friends post little primers on how they think life should be lived. We got one such recently, which advised that real men love cats. Our immediate thought was, well yes, unless they’re New Zealanders, probably. But we scratched that as thoroughly unworthy.

Nonetheless, the advice is correct. Cats are wonderful animals and much smarter than humans. And anyway, these days it’s all about Meow! Meow! Meow!

Cheers

A Happy New Year to all and every good wish for 2013.

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