HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Oct. 15, 2014

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

Probability Prabowo

People seem to be somewhat exercised over the coalition that failed presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto has fashioned in the national legislature. Why this should be so is an interesting question. Indonesia is far from alone in being a democratic entity in which rival political constituencies vie for supremacy between the executive head of state and the popular assembly, sometimes with questionable people at one or the other helm. It has been a function of republican governance from ancient Rome to modern Washington.

Prabowo seeks to undermine and effectively sideline the power of the incoming president, who to his apparently still extant surprise is not himself. It’s certain that Joko Widodo will have his work cut out to lead from the Istana Negara while the Prabowo faction holds sway in the legislature.

This is not entirely novel anywhere, including in Indonesia. What makes the situation unique here is that party politics is fluid, and fully dysfunctional, rather than fully formed and in working order. Political parties have labels and compete for attention in the public space, but on the basis of their leading members’ personalities and personal desires rather than hard-worked policy. They all sing the same song, but it is a discordant one, sung in a thousand self absorbed voices. Everyone’s heard it countless times, the useless anthem Saya Pertama.

In this fractious melange, bit players come to the fore. Such as the Islamic Defenders Front, or PKI; it’s an outfit that specializes in being beside itself with rage and which literally gets away with murder. The PKI isn’t lawfully registered but no one will confront it. It doesn’t represent mainstream Indonesian opinion, but all it has to do – figuratively speaking – is drop its pants in public and everyone swoons. It parades its goon squads wherever it wants and thumbs its nose at the constitution, the law, public order and common sense, and has never heard of human rights. In this it has been aided and abetted by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (who leaves office on Oct. 20), who can only be a closet sympathizer or else feel compelled to push the funk button every time a thick-headed fundamentalist mouths his way into view.

Its latest campaign is to unseat the Indonesian Chinese Christian governor-designate of Jakarta – Jokowi’s former deputy, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known by his diminutive, Pak Ahok – because it says Muslims shouldn’t be governed by an infidel. Never mind Pancasila, then. Forget about the plurality that was the foundation stone of Indonesia’s independence and the recognized religions enshrined in the constitution. Overlook the fact that people need services, good governance and incorruptibility rather more than episodic repertory performances by Rent-a-Mob. The FPI seems to want to shift Indonesia two or three time zones to the west, where its mind-set, preferred dress codes, misogyny and bully-boy tactics are all the rage. It doesn’t matter to them that Indonesians, overwhelmingly and very sensibly, have no such desire.

At the formal political level, however, Indonesians should not yet be too alarmed by Prabowo’s indistinct grasp of democratic principle or the astonishing luminosity that he seems to believe attaches to his self-proclaimed stellar position. All politics are compromise. The precipitate decision to de-legislate direct elections at local level, a bill SBY supinely signed into law on Oct. 7, is a foolish step too far. Even generals have to keep the troops happy.

A Fine Send-Off

This year’s Ubud Writers and Readers Festival has come and gone – the first in seven years that the Diary has had to miss – and it was sent on its way in fine style on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 4 and 5, by some great Australian music.

The Oct. 5 closing extravaganza featured musicians ALPHAMAMA (Anita Meiruntu) and Ben Walsh. We’re really sad to have missed that. Meiruntu’s original music and passion constantly pushes the boundaries of creative expression. She’s popular in Indonesia, where she has recently toured.

Walsh is one of Australia’s most accomplished percussionists, performers and composers. He has been touring professionally since he was 18 and has made music for dance performances, the circus and film. At the UWRF closing show he performed with a number of local percussionists. By all accounts it was an explosion of creativity.

The Saturday and Sunday performances at Ubud’s ARMA Museum were supported by the Australian Embassy Jakarta as part of its Arts and Cultural Program 2014. Ambassador Greg Moriarty said of Sunday’s finale: “The talent and musical depths of both artists showcase the best of what contemporary Australia can offer and I hope the musical collaborations created during this festival will further strengthen the cultural understanding and creative connections between our two countries.”

On the Saturday there was a performance of Ontosoroh by Australian dancer and choreographer Ade Suharto and Indonesian vocalist and composer Peni Candra Rini. Suharto and Rini have been working closely over the past two years to create Ontosoroh, which tells the story of the heroic female lead Nyai Ontosoroh in the Indonesian literary classic, This Earth of Mankind, by Pramoedyah Ananta Toer.

This Australian-Indonesian collaboration explores feminine strength and the struggle for freedom.

The embassy’s Arts and Cultural Program 2014, which began in March and ends next month, includes music, visual art exhibitions, dance, literature, textiles, sport and a science and innovation seminar series. The program also includes arts residencies and exchanges involving artists from both countries.

Cliff-Top Fantasia

The lovely people at AYANA and RIMBA, whose fireworks displays so often entertain us gratis at The Cage where they light up our horizon and shortly thereafter set the local dogs barking when the sound waves hit, have introduced a new cliff-top venue, SKY.

It opened on Oct. 10 with the sort of swell party we’ve come to expect from those in charge of the plush acres on the Jimbaran end of the Bukit. Opening night was themed Kahyangan, White Beauty at Sky. The venue caters for up to 80 people on the cliff-edge deck, up to 2,000 on the lawn, offers an amphitheatre seating up to 80, and was designed by St. Legere International. It is being marketed as a great spot for weddings and special events – and comes complete with a special panoramic seat on which you can get yourself photographed with the cliff-top vista in the background.

The opening featured the full repertoire of son et lumiere – yes, including fireworks – for which the property is renowned and was MC’d by Denada, the well-known former rapper and Dangdut singer.

Sinking Fund

Celia Gregory, the British underwater sculptor and the Diary’s favourite mermaid, tells us of an interesting crowd-funding scheme for her Marine Foundation’s living sculptures in the sea program. They’re chasing GBP 4,000 (that’s around Rp 78.5 million) to pay for a film being made on Aspara, their most recent sculpture.

Apsara will be sunk into her underwater home in Jemaluk Bay at Amed, East Bali, on Oct. 22 where three village communities with the help of Reef Check Indonesia and CORAL are working to establish effective marine management and become guardians to their coral garden and fish nursery preserving its well-being for future generations.

Gregory says the art work is inspired by the Apsaras, ancient Hindu spirits who are very beautiful and wonderful dancers that in many ways have qualities similar to the Greek fables of the sirens and mermaids. The sculpture has been designed to provide a hiding place for fish and a solid surface for corals and sea creatures to settle. The Sinking of the Apsara into the underwater coral and fish garden is seen as a unique creative opportunity to make an inspirational and uplifting short film.

It would also help promote Amed and Bali, which is a worthwhile project in itself.

When we checked on Oct. 7, our deadline day, the funding site was saying they’d raised GBP1,128, which is 28 per cent of their target. The campaign closes on Oct. 30.

Go here if you’d like to help: indiegogo.com/projects/apsara-spirits-of-the-sea

Get Walking

Just a reminder that this year’s Bali Pink Ribbon Walk against breast cancer is on Oct. 25. It’s in the walk-friendly environment of the Nusa Dua tourism precinct, the manicured bit behind the security gates. It’s a great cause and the Diary’s one day of the year for wearing pink. Full details are on the web at balipinkribbon.com. The Bali Advertiser is a sponsor.

Hector tweets @scratchings on Twitter

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser Jun 11, 2014

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

 

No Place for Mugs

Airlines operate on razor-thin financial margins, the virtual space between the cost of operating a flight and the net revenue gained from it. That’s no bad thing, since it is evidence that competition benefits people who want to fly, which is the object of the exercise.

The days are long gone when airlines could afford to over-staff, or position crews on standby except under the most stringent of budgetary conditions. And sensible rules about the allowable working hours of flight and cabin crews proscribe extension of these under most circumstances. So interference with a flight is an extremely costly business.

The eruption of Mt Sangeang off Sumbawa caused an ash cloud that resulted in flights being cancelled between Australian cities and Bali and Lombok. That’s a natural hazard and it’s really not possible to be angry with a volcano anyway.

But when interference comes from disruptive passengers, as it did recently with the Australian airlines Jetstar and Virgin, it’s very galling. Jetstar’s experience with a drunken lout aboard one of its Melbourne-Bali services stranded more than 240 Brisbane-bound passengers. It cost the airline heaps in accommodating those travellers, whose Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight home was a temporary non-event.

Jetstar took firm action with its alcohol-fuelled defaulting passenger. He was handed over to authorities at Ngurah Rai, denied entry to Indonesia, and deported. He then became a person of interest to the Australian Federal Police. Good.

There used to be a view that Australian drunks were risible characters, larrikin types, just good blokes (plus the occasional sheila) who had had too much of a good thing. In a pub, within limits, that might still be the case. On an aircraft they’re a bloody nuisance as well as a hazard to themselves and everyone else. And more to the point, they’re breaking the law.

Perhaps if a few bloody nuisances found to their horror that their thoughtless misbehaviour led to them being sued in the civil courts for restitution (a substantial six-figure dollar sum) it would deter all but the most stupid among future offenders.

Just a thought.

 

Snatch and Grabbed

Good news to report, and plaudits to the police to hand out, over an alleged bag-snatching gang whose seven members are now in custody and under criminal investigation. According to the on-line Indonesian language newspaper Suluh Bali  (a great operation by the way) police were quick on the trail after an incident in Kuta on May 26.

They had a little help. The brace of bandits on a motorbike that snatched the handbag of another rider, a woman, lost their licence plate in the melee as they sped off. It lay upon the road begging for attention. It got it. The registration details led immediately to the owner of the bike and thereafter to the arrests of seven young men, all from Denpasar.

The two youths who committed the crime (they are aged 16 and 17) could face up to seven years in jail and their accomplices up to four. Publicizing crimes and reporting sentences handed down to perpetrators is a significant deterrent. So we’ll be watching this case with interest.

The woman who was robbed in this instance was an expatriate, one of a number recently. But local women are targeted by these low-life characters too. A dear friend of The Diary and Distaff was injured in a bag-snatch as she rode her bike in Jl Bali Cliff at Ungasan recently.

The Beat Daily, which provides a very useful English language digest of news, also reported the Kuta incident. The dyspepsia caused by the news was heightened by this line: “A police investigation into a bag snatching last Monday lead to police successfully catching two teenage boys and investigating five others.”

Um, fellas, try “led”. It’s in the English dictionary, past tense of “lead”. Not to be confused with the metal of course, which is pronounced “led”.

 

Getting Together

The good burghers of Ubud are getting together in a number of ways. The latest initiative is a monthly Ubud Village informal meeting, the first of which was held on Jun. 1 at Paula’s Rice Terrace Cafe in Jl Suweta, Ubud.

Organizer Douglas Snyder says the meetings, on the first Sunday of every month, are a chance to say hello and get to know people and make the village a little more personal. He hopes to create an environment in which people actually meet instead of just on Facebook. That sounds like a capital plan.

Crime of a petty or more serious nature is now part of the landscape in Ubud. This is a comparatively recent development and a very unwelcome one. The death of British resident Anne-Marie Drozdz apparently during a break-in at her rented villa is especially disturbing.

A candlelight vigil and a meeting of concerned residents followed her death. A man was arrested in Jakarta soon after the crime.

 

Have a Treat, Jump the Queue

The magnificent marketers at AYANA Resort and Spa and RIMBA at Jimbaran have found a way for non-resident guests to jump the queue to the Rock Bar, the destination of choice of many who wish to imbibe a cocktail or three at sunset at that iconic cliff-side watering hole perched 14 metres above the waves. It’s a must-do thing. You can watch the people or the waves.

The Rock Bar’s popularity is such that in high season the walk-in trade can sometimes find itself waiting 90 minutes for the glide down the inclinator to those glasses with little brollies in them. Not surprisingly, some among such putative patrons are disinclined to do so.

Priority access to the Rock Bar is reserved for guests staying at the hotels but now outside guests can get priority access too if they relax and take special spa packages (Rp480K plus tax). The deal runs until Sep. 30.

Two packages with one free Rock Bar cocktail are offered: the Perfectonic Package, which is a two-hour Aquatonic massage at Thermes Marins Bali Spa (in this process, we’re told, 60 therapeutic jet streams, micro-bubbles and geysers whack you around in seawater); and the Rock My Body Massage, a 75-minute deep relaxation experience available at both Thermes and RIMBA’s new Rooftop Spa.

Sounds cool! We might give up food for a month and drop in. We’d dress properly too, as per requirements. Well, we always do. We don’t wear singlets or board shorts and we don’t own anything that says Bintang.

Better leave the Wise Guy tee at home though. It comes from an up-market winery we favour at Cape Naturaliste in Western Australia. But it might not pass the no-alcohol-branding rule.

 

Can You Help?

Bali Pink Ribbon stalwarts Rrashida Abdulhusainn, Priya Bojwani and others were looking last week for donated material for a second-hand boutique stall at the Bali Pink Ribbon Bazaar at the FX Church, Kuta, this Sunday (Jun. 15).

New or second hand clothing, bags, shoes, sandals, jewellery, glasses, ceramics, painting, books, magazines, towels, napkins, pillow cases, bed sheets, bed covers, school bags, children’s clothing, scarves, home ware, glasses, cups, etc, were on their we’d-really-like-it list.

So if you’ve got anything that would look better making money for Pink Ribbon’s breast cancer awareness programs and seminars, get on to the Bali Pink Ribbon Centre in Jl Dewi Sri, Kuta. Email balipinkribbon@gmail.com or phone (0361) 83 52299.

 

Marathon Muddle

Pheidippedes the Diary is not; and certainly not a modern marathon runner either. A modest outing over 10km in boots and patrol order webbing, with rifle, in pursuit of an annual fitness rating in the military service of HM Queen Elizabeth II in two of her several symbolic crowns, was ever the best we could manage. And that was a few years ago.

Maybe that’s why, in the Diary of May 28, we mistook the Bali Marathon for the Bali Triathlon. Or perhaps it was just inexcusable inattention. Jack Daniels of Bali Discovery Tours and the invaluable Bali Update, and the triathlon, may have a view on that.

The 2014 Bali marathon is being held in Gianyar later this year. It involves no swimming. For its part, the 2014 Bali triathlon – in the inimitable style that Indonesia has made its own – has been postponed to 2015 so that presidential candidates can run around, splash out, and be told to get on their bikes instead.

The modern marathon dates from the 1896 Athens Olympics. It celebrates the myth of Pheidippedes’ 40-kilometre sprint from the 490BCE battle site of Marathon to Athens with the news that the Athenian lads had seen off those nasty Persians.

In the manner of such myths, the poor chap expired from his exertions immediately after giving the anxious archons this happy news. There’s a classically kitsch 1869 painting by Luc-Olivier Merson that depicts the heroic demise.

Hector tweets @scratchings on Twitter

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, May 14, 2014

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

Intriguing Art

One measure of a country’s social maturity is how it responds to and interacts with those within its society whose culture is a minority expression. Most countries have minority populations. Mostly, let it be said, they do not demonstrate cultural maturity in their dealings with them.

Australia is by any measure an ethnically diverse nation. Even before the great post-World War II migration boom, its settler community included people of many different origins. Among these were large numbers of Chinese. But as with other settler societies within the Anglosphere – the United States, Canada and New Zealand – it is the descendants of the dispossessed aboriginal inhabitants who are most deserving of goodwill and a substantial helping hand.

Without canvassing colonial policy towards Australia’s Aborigines – about which the historical literature is excoriating – it is pleasing to note that today’s policies seek (though imperfectly) to return to Aborigines the self empowerment they lost when British settlers arrived two centuries ago.

Part of the problem is that much of today’s Aboriginal population is not in the same pre-bucolic hunter-gatherer circumstances as Bennelong, who is remembered in the name of a federal electorate in Sydney and whose place in history (as First Dupe, one might say) is assured.

Australia has long passed the point where it would Anglicize the name of its national animal symbol as “kangaroo”. Some sources assert that this means “I don’t know”, an early whitefella having asked a passing local what they called that strange animal. It has passed, too, the point where a future township (in Queensland) would be called Cunnamulla, which means midden.

It’s rather nice to think that while they were being harried out of their ancestral territories by a pack of uncouth and frequently murderous Brits, the Eighteenth and Nineteenth century Aborigines still found time to have a joke at the expense of those who were doing the harrying.

In the two centuries since British settlement and the beginnings of a distinct Australian culture and indeed ethnicity, the Aboriginal source of some of this identity has generally been left out of the narrative. That is a tragedy.

Complete redress remains a distant goal. But the Australians are actually trying rather hard across many areas of human endeavour. One such effort is the world-touring Message Stick exhibition. It portrays indigenous identity in urban Australia.

The art in the exhibition is challenging, in some instances because it itself perpetuates emergent myths about the principles and purposes of earlier policy towards Aborigines. Some is very striking, especially Christian Thompson’s three 2007 Hunting Ground works.

The exhibitions in Indonesia are the show’s last stop before it repatriates itself to the former Terra Australis Incognita. It was at the eclectic Maha Art Gallery in Renon, Denpasar, from May 4-14. New Consul-General Majell Hind did the honours at the opening assisted by Vicky Miller, First Secretary (Cultural) at Australia’s embassy in Jakarta.

 

Write On

Before we leave the Antipodes for other matters, one other thing deserves a mention. It is the Australia-Indonesia Emerging Writers Exchange organized through the Australian Embassy’s arts and cultural program.

Australia’s Luke Ryan took part in the Bali Emerging Writers Festival over the weekend of May 3-4 (it’s a useful spin-off from the annual Ubud Writers and Readers Festival, this year from Oct 1-5). He and his Indonesian counterpart, Ni Ketut Sudiani of Bali, will be at the Emerging Writers’ Festival in Melbourne (May 27-Jun 6) and the National Writers’ Conference (May 31 and Jun 1) where they will discuss the exchange and potential for Australia-Indonesia collaboration.

Ms Sudiani notes that being in Melbourne will provide a completely different experience from her home in Bali. True. For one thing, the city’s climate is apt to give you all four temperate zone seasons in one day.

But it’s a fabulous place. A representative taste of the city’s contribution to Australian culture should include seeing an AFL game at the MCG, a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria, a peek at St Kilda beach (or Brighton for a different ambience) and plenty of coffee and culinary treats in Lygon Street.

Enjoy, Sudiani.

 

ART-ful Plan

Delphine Robbe, the motivating force behind environmental efforts on land and under water in Lombok’s northern Gili islands, is promoting a new project to grow a coral reef off Senggigi on Lombok’s west coast.

There’s novelty in the project, which is similar in concept to the successful Biorock coral regeneration in the Gilis. It is using metal works of Teguh Ostenrik, one of only a few Indonesian artists in that genre who exhibit widely in galleries. He is the founder of the project.

Among the novelties is the name – ART-ificial Reef Park Lombok. Look it up on Facebook and if you’ve a mind to, join its growing list of fans.

 

Pink’s the Go

Anti-breast cancer campaigners Bali Pink Ribbon organized a breast screening road show this month, in which free screening is offered to Balinese women at various locations around Bali. This is essential preventive health work and a very valuable effort.

Bali Pink Ribbon founder Gaye Warren tells us Bali Pink Ribbon is working with volunteer doctors and nurses from FeM Surgery Singapore and led by Dr Felicia Tan. Two mobile ultrasound units were sent to Bali for the road show, on loan from Philips Singapore.

BPR volunteer doctors and nurses led by Dr Dian Ekawati from Prima Medika Hospital in Denpasar also took part. Prof. Tjakra Manuaba, head of oncology at Prima Medika and medical adviser to Bali Pink Ribbon, led a seminar at the Badung breast screening road show.

The annual Bali Pink Ribbon Walk is on Oct. 25 and will be held as usual in the Nusa Dua tourism precinct. It’s always fun and the money raised is essential to help keep breast cancer education programs and screening going.

Free screening will be available at the Oct. 25 walk and a three-day screening road show will follow.

On Oct. 17 BPR has an “In the Pink” lunch and fashion show planned. It’s in our diary, as is the walk. Advance purchase walk tickets are available from Pink Ribbon House, Bali Pink Ribbon Breast Cancer Support Centre, Jl. Dewi Sri IV/ No.1, Kuta. It’s off Sunset Road. Or check their website: balipinkribbon.com

 

Late Notice

There’s no stopping Nigel Mason, viewed by many as the undisputed king of adventure tourism in Bali. He celebrated turning 70 last month in spectacular style with a dazzling party at his Bali Adventure Tours Company’s headquarters at Ubud on Apr. 13.

According to Diana Shearin, of the aptly named DISH public relations outfit and who helped with the fiddly bits, Mason pulled out all stops with an evening of non-stop entertainment, decadent cocktails and an enormous buffet for 400-plus guests.

Mason’s Balinese wife of 31 years, Yanie, and their two sons Jian and Shan were present, as was Mason’s daughter Katia, who lives in Australia.

The proceedings were helped along by Australian comedian Kevin Bloody Wilson and a troupe of lissom young ladies who had delightfully forgotten (as so many do these days) that you’re supposed to wear something over your scanties. Still, this isn’t Aceh.

Shame we missed it. It’s also a shame that an accident in cyberspace prevented the appearance of our original brilliant report on the affray in last edition’s diary. The Great Cursor sent it to a galaxy far, far away. Or we hit the wrong button or something.

 

Won’t Work

Blogger Vyt Karazija posted a great little video on Facebook recently, relating to education about not dumping trash in waterways. He suggested – entirely reasonably – that it should be screened frequently on Bali television channels.

He’d found it while trawling Facebook, which despite its many demerits is a very useful social medium. The clip features a red truck dumping trash into a river near a sign that proclaims “No Dumping”.

So of course we had to rain on Vyt’s parade. We pointed out that while it was indeed a good idea, it just wouldn’t work. Most red truck drivers would simply assume the rule couldn’t possibly apply to them. And drivers of all the other trucks, the green, yellow and blue ones, could say without fear of contradiction that they don’t dump anything from red ones, so what’s the problem?

 

Swell Party

We dropped into the Legian Beach Hotel on Friday, May 9, to help celebrate the opening of the new Ole Beach Bar there. The LBH is a grand local success story. It celebrates its 40th birthday this year and is doing so with the assistance of its significant cadre of return guests, some of whom have been holidaying there for decades.

General Manager Arif Billah, who hails from Lombok, is rightly proud of his staff and the hotel’s place in Bali’s tourism sector.

The drinks at Ole Beach Bar are great too.

 

Hector tweets @scratchings on Twitter

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Oct. 16, 2013

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

 

May The Farce Be With You

We were going to be nice about it all, really we were. APEC, we mean. It was so important to Bali, after all. All those lovely delegates were sure to be so impressed by the event and the island that hosted it that they’d all return later, with their families, for private holidays, thereby boosting the economy by a zillion convertible currency units.

Yes, well, farce has a long and honourable history. Only the Seriously Up-Themselves could possibly be impressed by their mode of transport: preceded, tailed and flanked by siren-sounding, blue-light-flashing and thoroughly rude loudspeaker-equipped police causing chaos and endless delays and pushing lesser mortals off the road. It’s how the ruling classes conduct themselves here but any delegate with the most rudimentary measure of social awareness would have been mortified.

The top three from our Farce List:

THE ban on kites and lasers as aviation hazards during APEC. If they’re hazards to VIP landings and take-offs, they’re hazards to ordinary air travellers too, all the time, not just on special occasions.

THE mass cancellations of airline services (700 of them) because the airport was closed through peak operating hours to accommodate VIP flights.

THE armoured car with fully loaded machine-gunners at each end that we saw trundling down Jl Raya Uluwatu through Jimbaran village escorted by police and military police motorcycles. Thank goodness they didn’t hit a pothole and squeeze a trigger. Had they been sent to get the fish for lunch?

 

Sartorial Splendour

Hector’s helper got into a bit of trouble on his Facebook on the last day of APEC for posting a photo from the ABC website of Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott arriving at the end-of-event Big Dinner wearing purple Endek. It wasn’t the rig that was being critiqued – Batik and Ikat are wonderful fashion statements and vital elements of Indonesian culture – but the fact that purple just isn’t his colour.

Judging from the photo, in which PM Abbott is looking (smilingly) vaguely uneasy and his wife is looking determinedly anywhere but at his shirt, we think he knows this.

 

Bon Soirée

Hector and Distaff attended one APEC event, which was an American business oriented cocktail function at the Grand Nikko Bali where Jean-Charles Le Coz presides over the cliff-top presence with just the right amount of Gallic flair. We were invited by Jack Daniels of Bali Discovery Tours and Bali Update, with whom we share an interest in the fortunes – misfortunes rather – of Bali’s street dogs. We drank some very pleasant Californian red and chatted with lots of interesting people.

We had to chat. The speeches were off because of the inability of American governmental arrangements to realize that as this is the 21st century they really should move on (and no, we’re not talking about guns or health care). Everyone officially American present, including the US Secretary of Commerce, seemed to be on furlough. In the non-American part of the Anglosphere this is more simply known as leave without pay.

It was interesting getting into the venue. We didn’t have a magic APEC pass, you see. So after a bit of a circus we parked on the road outside and walked in. A chatty infantry corporal, fully armed, escorted us to the sign-in tent. He saw me checking his boots (old military habits die hard) and thereafter called me Sir.

 

Three Hearty Woofs!

An annual event of note took place in Melbourne on Oct. 11 – the Bali Street Dogs appeal night, this year presided over by one of the Diary’s favourite Aussie TV personages, Kerri-Anne Kennerley. The event was at the InterContinental Melbourne The Rialto, as always, and was co-sponsored by Garuda.

Volunteer cheerleader and longstanding Bali hand Sally Rodd reminded us the 2012 appeal raised more than $40,000 to help alleviate the appalling conditions in which most of Bali’s abandoned and urban-feral dogs live.

It’s great to know that some people understand that being Lead Species on Planet Earth confers obligations such as a duty of care towards lesser creatures. Perhaps some further educational literature on that rather broad topic could be usefully read by bureaucrats here.

Anyone interested in the Melbourne end of caring for Bali’s dogs should bookmark www.balistreetdogs.org.au.

 

Sanglah Connection

Kon Vatskalis, who as health minister in the former Northern Territory government was the leading political driver of the 2011 sister relationship between Sanglah and Royal Darwin Hospital, was back here recently to check on progress. He’s now the opposition spokesman on health in the legislature of that Australian territory.

We had dinner with him and his family at La Favela in Seminyak, an occasion hosted by Australia’s consul-general in Bali, Brett Farmer. Vatskalis pronounced himself well satisfied with the way the Darwin-Sanglah link had progressed and tells us he’s also keen to help with the establishment of a new international hospital here and to extend the Darwin link to the public hospital facility in Kupang, West Timor.

He issued a statement on his visit. Among other things it noted this:

“The Sanglah Hospital has completely revamped their emergency department and introduced a triage system that has significantly improved patient care. In addition, the hospital has introduced a Clinical Nurse Educator [and is] the only hospital with such a position in Indonesia.  It has also introduced a hospital school for sick children, modelled on the one in Royal Darwin Hospital.”

It’s these sorts of things that take place largely out of the public gaze that are so valuable, so effective at cementing relationships, and so useful in bringing otherwise unreachable benefits to the Indonesian people.

 

In the Swim

Celia Gregory of the Marine Foundation – she’s the Brit “underwater sculptress” whose polyp-friendly structures augment existing and nascent coral reefs in Bali and the Lombok Gilis – was at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival this year, presenting at a day of free events sponsored by The Body Shop.

The day-long affair (on Oct. 13) was a special addition to this year’s festival program and themed “Our Planet: Through Darkness to Light”. Gregory was joined at Fivelements (it’s on the Ayung River at Banjar Baturning, Mambal) by Rili Djohani of the Coral Triangle Centre, environmental activist and The Body Shop Indonesia CEO Suzy Hutomo, environmental writer Harry Surjadi and orang-utan rehab expert Simon Husson.

It presented “a journey across Bali’s coral reefs and Indonesia’s extraordinary forest and wildlife worlds”.

On Oct. 14, in another festival spin-off, Villa Kitty at Lodtundah staged a special literary and art-oriented day for children. Villa Kitty, which is now a fully fledged Yayasan, is run by that energetic Ubud fixture, Elizabeth Henzell.

 

Swish Dish

We see that snappy photographer Deborah Cayetano, who also runs the innovative Bali’s Best Chefs operation, has added vacation and time management to her skill-set outlined on LinkedIn, where the Diary does its real work. That’s probably a good thing. Her plush dining experiences require a lot of organization. They’re invitation only, the names of other guests are not revealed until all are gathered for the feast, and the location is kept secret until 48 hours before the event.

It’s a great marketing pitch. Award winning chefs from around the world who now live and work in Bali present special menu creations and premium wines are paired by the chef to blend nicely with each course.

The succulent celebrations take place in a luxury holiday villa, on a big yacht, or at an historical location. It’s a nice niche market to aim for and helps promote Bali as more than just a resort of the gulp-guzzle-and-go brigade.

 

In a Great Cause

W Resort and Spa at Seminyak is the venue on Oct. 19 for a Gala Fundraiser in aid of Bali’s new Breast Cancer Support Centre in Jl Dewi Sri, Kuta, which is an initiative of the Bali Pink Ribbon organization.

The evening will feature a four-course dinner by W Resort and Spa Bali’s executive chef Richard Millar (including free-flow wine).  Cocktails begin at 6:30pm. Tickets are Rp1.5 million (US$130). Call (+62) (0)361-8352299 or email balipinkribbon@gmail.com.

 

RIMBA Calling

Marian Carroll of AYANA – whose corporate boosting duties now include the new companion resort hotel RIMBA – is looking forward to the establishment’s grand opening on Nov.  1. It opened (in the soft way that such establishments do worldwide) in time to host APEC delegates and was performing very well when we had breakfast there with Carroll one recent weekend.

Some finishing touches were still being made and bits of it looked a tad To-Do, but the Lobby is spectacular, the breakfast was good, the staff attentive, and it was lovely to be in the midst of an infant forest and surrounded by masses of water.

The grand opening should be spectacular.

 

 Hector tweets @scratchings

 

 

 

HECTOR’S DIARY, Bali Advertiser, Jan. 9, 2013

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

In the Pink Again

There was a pleasant little soiree just before Christmas, at the plush new Marriott property The Stones at Legian, in favour of the worthwhile Bali Pink Ribbon cause. General manager Peter Brampton and his crew put on a great show for the crowd. Everything was pink: the complimentary mocktails and even many of the canapés, and certainly the staff.

We managed to catch up with Gaye Warren, originator of the Bali Pink Ribbon Walks – this year’s is on April 28; put it in your diaries – for a quick briefing on how things are going with their plans for a breast cancer advisory service for Balinese women.

She tells us: “After nearly four years of fundraising, thanks to the dedication of my Pink Team, I am delighted that we have raised enough funds to open our breast cancer support centre in Jl. Dewi Sri, off Sunset Road in Kuta, to be called Pink Ribbon House. It will be open to all those affected by breast cancer and their families, both Balinese and expatriate. Our medical advisers will endeavour to give free monthly seminars on women’s health at the centre.  We shall also be offering therapeutic courses and counselling by volunteers including breast cancer survivors.

“All being well, we hope to open when the centre is more or less equipped by the end of January. However, we are still in urgent need of office equipment, up to date computers, etc. We shall also be planning a future fund raiser sometime in 2013 for a second-hand minibus to provide transportation to the centre for women from outside Denpasar.”

They’re looking for an experienced office manager to run the new centre and take on some of their workload. And all this is in addition to the new breast cancer screening facility at Prima Medika Hospital in Denpasar, in which Pink Ribbon has been a major player.

Gaye, who is herself a breast cancer survivor, has had a gruelling time lately. During her lengthy absence in the UK in 2012 the redoubtable Kathryn Bruce held the fort in her place. Gaye says of Kathryn: “I couldn’t possibly manage without her.”

The Stones (one of Marriott’s upmarket Autograph Collection) opened late last year. It’s a great property.

Missing Link

It is to be hoped that Garuda will make it back to Darwin, as forecast, now it is apparently no longer just the notional airline. Proposals to resume the service from Bali to Australia’s “northern capital” this year have surfaced following a visit to Jakarta by Northern Territory Chief Minister Terry Mills, who took office last year following an election that saw the long-ruling Labor Party tossed into opposition.

The north Australia connection is important to Bali and the eastern archipelago, and of course to Indonesia as a whole. Darwin implicitly understands the realities of living in the tropics, which most Australians do not. The city – it’s very small: 128,100 people on 2011 figures – is well serviced and makes a useful study centre for many Indonesian purposes; not least for storm drain technology that can deal properly with tropical intensity rain.

The new government in Darwin has said it wants to continue and to expand the scope of the lifesaving connection between Royal Darwin Hospital and Sanglah in Denpasar (so see next item). This was an important and far-seeing initiative of the Territory’s former Labor government.  We will look with interest at performance versus promise on that front.

Renewed air links are a boon. When Garuda dropped the ball – and Brisbane and Darwin – some years ago after it discovered to its horror that the corporations that owned its aircraft actually would like lease payments to be made, it did itself and the Australian connection immense damage. It had been flying to Darwin from Bali for 18 years. AirAsia took up the route but discontinued it because it couldn’t make it pay. That’s the commercial reality and AirAsia is (properly) ruthless in that regard. If it doesn’t make commercial sense, it won’t do it. Bali-Phuket was junked for the same reason, as were the Kuala Lumpur-Europe routes.

The Qantas low-cost carrier Jetstar flies Bali-Darwin with services that originate from or fly on to other Australian cities, picking up payload as a result. Garuda has announced plans to fly Jakarta-Bali-Brisbane from later this year.

Nice Try, Fail

Sanglah General Hospital, Bali’s leading public hospital, will have to try again to win formally recognisable international accreditation. A year-long effort to obtain certification from the Joint Commission International (JCI) did not meet with success, since Sanglah failed on several significant tests: quality of the building, the hospital’s ability to control infection and the fit-out of bathroom facilities.

JCI, which has been operating as a global standard-testing organisation since 1994 and is represented in more than 90 countries, sets rigorous standards of clinical care and managerial functions in acute care hospitals. It provides international accreditation, education and advisory services.

Sanglah’s chief director, Dr Wayan Sutarga, says only 36 of 1218 separate JCI standards of service rate a fail at the hospital and 24 are non-medical in nature. He says therefore that it can be said that Sanglah General Hospital is “almost excellent.” Unfortunately that’s somewhat similar to hanging out a plaque above your office, as some Indians used to do in the old days, proclaiming oneself as B.A. (Oxon) (Failed).

JCI will be back in three months. Dr Sutarga and his team need to be ready for excellence then.

Not that Rich

Governor Pastika has taken pains recently to reveal his salary and benefits. They are not excessive. He gets Rp 8,598,200 in take-home pay a month. He disclosed his emoluments, and those of his deputy, following a report published recently by the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (FITRA), which set out salary levels among various provincial and regional heads in Indonesia.

On the face of it, it seems they got something a little wrong. It may be that the monthly office expenses got confused with salaries, since FITRA said Pastika was taking home Rp 176,660,994 a month.

Local newspaper NusaBali also reported the FITRA survey as indicating that the regent and vice regent of Badung were among Indonesia’s best-paid regional officials, receiving monthly salaries of Rp 129,596,905 and Rp 122,876,905 respectively. Those figures are probably wrong too. But Badung is certainly Bali’s wealthiest district. Many refer to it, not without reason, by another name: Rip-Off Central.

In the Way

While the regent of Badung is busy collecting money from developers, he might like to spare a thought for the seaweed farmers of Nusa Dua whose 30-year-old industry is just about dead. The farmers want the government to change the regulations to make it easier for farmers to remain viable producers in areas such as Geger Beach, where the massive Mulia development has delivered the coup de grace to the little people.

Seaweed farmers can no longer dry their seaweed on the beach but must take it inland, reducing production (and incomes). They were promised jobs with hotels in the area but many, unqualified for such work, have not been employed.

Today, only 30 families still farm seaweed at Nusa Dua. There used to be 100. Their situation would make an interesting study for delegates at the 2013 International Seaweed Symposium, the 21st and the first hosted by Indonesia. (We love irony here at the Diary.) Sixty countries are down to attend and delegates are set to discuss the latest research and industry conditions in the seaweed world.

Um, Yes

We dined on the evening of New Year’s Day at Trattoria near Padang Padang on the Bukit’s Labuan Sait coast. The menu’s great – there’s a lovely Japanese selection too – and the ambience captures the locality and its culture while managing to blend in the origins of the Italian style of informal dining.

It was raining heavily on the Bukit that evening and because the front restaurant was full – outside dining being off – we were directed to the other dining area, just a few steps away across a rainy terrace. A delightfully lissom and well appointed young woman with a lovely smile and an umbrella took us there.

We ordered, though with difficulty. This was because all the staff appeared to hold master’s degrees in eye-contact avoidance. They also seemed not to understand their own language. We had to ask for roti to go with the pre-pizza salad, but we only got it after the happy fellow we were trying to order with had a brainwave and said, “You want bread!”

When we left, it was still raining kucings and anjings. But that was OK; we made use of an umbrella provided for diners who might otherwise get drenched. At the parking area, however, the attendant was determinedly sheltering from the ambient inclemency. He showed no interest in waving us out of the car park with the usual combination of magic wand, whistle and shouts of “terus”. Further, it was abundantly clear that he had no intention of getting himself wet in an effort to retrieve his employer’s umbrella.

So to make the point, your Diarist trudged through the rain after the Distaff was safely sheltered in the car, to return it to the idle little gent. (“Gent” was not the actual word that was upon your Diarist’s lips, sotto voce, but the Bali Advertiser has rules that proscribe profanity.)

Hector’s Diary appears in the Bali Advertiser print edition, out every second Wednesday, and on the newpaper’s website http://www.baliadvertiser.biz. Hector is on Twitter @scratchings and Facebook (Hector McSquawky)