HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, Oct. 2, 2013


His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

Barking Mad

The real story behind the precipitate action by Bali’s authorities to close down BAWA – the Bali Animal Welfare Association – will probably never be known. It cannot have been licensing irregularities alone, surely? The only people who get pinged over licence issues here are those who have trodden on some bigwig’s ego, often with good reason. The island is littered with buildings that do not have permits and enterprises that are inadequately licensed or not licensed at all; it is overrun with vehicles that are unregistered and drivers and motorbike riders who are unlicensed; and there is a myriad of cosy little far-from-legal wink-and-nod deals, including in the veterinary area, that no one even bothers to hide. Bali is that sort of place.

BAWA does sterling work with Bali’s street dogs, many of which live appalling lives that should shame anyone with a conscience. The message it consistently puts out should be readily understood by anyone. If you feed a dog, it’s yours, whether or not it actually is. And if a dog is yours, you are responsible for it.

Let’s not forget that without BAWA there would probably not have been a properly managed vaccination program to control rabies, or an education program directed at and in the interests of local people. It was BAWA that did the hard yards and got the crisis recognized by global health authorities. We should not forget either that the disease – whether reintroduced or simply breaking out of dormancy; it doesn’t matter – emerged in early to mid-2008: now fully half a decade ago.

And let’s not forget that in 2008 a number of people died of rabies before anyone in the animal or human health areas could be bothered to notice. Let’s not forget that at least 150 people are known to have died of the disease. If it had been bubonic plague – that’s a zoonotic disease too – there would have been panic and Bali’s tourism industry would have been dumped in the plague pit along with the human casualties.

There are other things not to forget. BAWA funded the first-ever rabies seminar in Bali hosted by Udayana medical college where World Health Organization specialists and leading rabies experts spent three days educating local doctors and veterinarians in best-practice rabies control. Let’s not forget BAWA had a stellar reputation with the provincial local government until this year when many positions in animal husbandry were switched in another of the tedious merry-go-rounds of administrative changes that happen here.

BAWA founder and chief organizer Janice Girardi personally funded Bali’s first-ever rabies campaign late 2009 as proof for international funders that it is possible (although it is never easy) to catch and vaccinate dogs that have never before been handled by humans. BAWA vaccinated 48,000 dogs in six months during that pilot programme.

Girardi was away from Bali when the authorities chose to swoop. That they did so then instead of waiting for her to get home is itself a disgrace that prompts questions. The local media reported that she had refused to allow officials to enter BAWA’s premises. How was this possible? Did she email herself back to the island to stand in the doorway?

The dog vaccination campaign and related sterilization programs must continue along with the audited and regulated public education BAWA introduced in October 2010 and which since April 2011 has been conducted in consultation with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

The education effort must go on because many people (among them the thicker expatriates) still refuse to comprehend that street dogs are not “wild dogs” but the abandoned or ephemerally fed canine victims of human thoughtlessness or their progeny.  BAWA’s dog population control programs are vital not only to the issue of stray dogs but also for effective reduction of rabies.

It goes beyond this too. If BAWA is shut down, what will the authorities do about the 30-40 emergency calls each day to which BAWA responds, round the clock, free of charge? The question is rhetorical. We know that the answer is “nothing”.

Tourism veteran John (Jack) Daniels wrote an open letter to Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika about all this on Sept. 21 (read it on www.balidiscovery.com). It was a courageous move and he deserves applause for taking this action. His determination to get things back on track – and to keep BAWA in business – sends a strong signal to the authorities that the situation has gone far beyond the point where (according to some people) no one should speak up forcefully for fear of being thought a meddlesome foreigner who should go home if they don’t like it here.

BAWA needs support, financial and well as moral. Rabies must be reduced to a point where it is no longer a daily threat. That requires concerted, proactive engagement at every level of society and in every community.

Letters as an Art Form

This year’s Ubud Writers and Readers Festival is nearly with us (Oct. 11-15) and, as has been its established pattern, the festival has spread its wings a little bit further again. The Women of Letters series, fresh from sell-out shows in New York and Los Angeles, is presenting events in Indonesia for the first time – and one of them is at the UWRF.

We live in a world of short text messages and Twitter – even the Diary’s on Twitter – but classical letter-writing is a very civilized activity we should not let go by the board. Thanks to Marieke Hardy and Michaela McGuire and their series Women of Letters we are reminded of the beautiful art of letter writing.

The Ubud event, including a workshop and under the UWRF banner, is on Oct. 12 at Indus. It is in collaboration with the Salihara Literary Biennale (Jakarta), a delightful bringing together two of Indonesia’s most high-profile literary events and featuring leading Indonesian and Australian writers (women, naturally) who will share their stories through the art of letter writing at events.

The Jakarta event is on Oct. 3 and there’s another in Yogyakarta on Oct. 5 under the auspices of the Langgeng Art Foundation.

It’s an impressive line-up: Anne Summers, Alphamama, Ayu Utami, Clare Bowditch, Emilie Zoey Baker, Khairani Barokka, Kirsty Murray, Laura Jean McKay, Lionel Shriver, Lisa Febriyanti, Okky Madasari, Olin Monteiro, Robin de Crespigny and the Diary’s personal pick of the show, Shamini Flint.

This year’s UWRF pays homage to Raden Ayu Kartini, defined as Indonesia’s pioneer of women’s rights.

Good Deed, Great Veg

Tricia Kim of the Rotary Club of Canggu tells us the art auction held at Tugu Hotel recently raised more than Rp65 million to improve the lives of prisoners in Kerobokan Jail. The money will help build a garden at the jail and means prisoners will have access to more fresh food and achieve better balance in their diets.

Art up for auction at the event was the work of Kerobokan inmates, including Bali Nine convict Myuran Sukumaran, who has obtained prison authorities’ support to fund an organic garden and improve drainage and basic environmental conditions at the jail.

Among the many supporters of efforts to provide Kerobokan prisoners with a better life is the Australian not for profit enterprise Emerald Community House, whose director Mary Farrow has been providing support to Kerobokan inmates for more than a year.

She says this: “The prison arts program provides a rehabilitation activity that engages inmates and provides an opportunity for expression. The artwork produced by the prison arts studio will fund a new permaculture garden and help improve drainage in the garden area.”

Earlier this year the acclaimed Australian painter Ben Quilty led an art class at the prison art studio, which is said to have remarkably improved the quality of artworks produced by the inmates. Well done Quilty – and well done inmates. The result at the Tugu auction was vigorous bidding for the artworks on offer. Well done bidders!

The food garden and drainage improvements planned at the jail follow a visit to Kerobokan earlier this year by local Indonesian NGO the IDEP Foundation, from which a plan was developed. Rotary Canggu then offered to host an auction of artworks by the inmates to help fund the prison garden project.

Gede Sugiarta of IDEP Foundation says: “We recently worked with the Bangli prison to create an organic garden and the inmates found it very therapeutic. They get exercise and they grow fresh vegetables they might not get otherwise. We’re really excited to work with Kerobokan prison and the inmates to build a garden and improve the environment.”


Well, we didn’t make it along there ourselves, but as we promised Tom Hufnagel when he invited us, we drank beer anyway. The Bali Oktoberfest was held at JP’s Warung in the KLS F&F (fun and frivolity) precinct on Sep. 27.

Tom promised a Bavarian Beer Tent atmosphere with – sorry, that should be mit – Wiesn Haendl, Schweinshaxn, Nuernberger mit Sauerkraut, traditional Bavarian food and live stage performances featuring lederhosen and dirndl. A toast: Eine weitere Bintang bitte!

Hector tweets @ scratchings


BAD DIARIST’S NOTE: Tricia Kim reminds me that the Kerobokan benefit night was at La Finca, a fine establishment, not at  Hotel Tugu, also a fine establishment. Apologies.


HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser September 18, 2013


His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences


Golly! It’s Scribbler Time Again

Coming up soon are several jamborees – including Miss World, see below – that are set to put Bali (however briefly) in the world spotlight. The primary one is the APEC summit, of which we have written before. But shortly after the last APEC delegates buzz off and allow the rest of us to access our airport normally and drive around unmolested by rude police motorcade marshals, this year’s Ubud Writers & Readers Festival will be upon us.

     The 2013 festival brings with it the spirit of coming home, and presents the best Indonesian, South East Asian and international voices as it celebrates its tenth anniversary from Oct.11-15.

     This year it features more than 170 writers, performers, artists, musicians and visionaries to Ubud, navel-gazing centre of the universe, to talk about all forms of storytelling – from travel writing to song-writing, plays, poetry, comedy and graphic novels.

     Joining the line-up – and in his first festival appearance in the region – is bestselling British author Sebastian Faulks (Birdsong, Devil May Care), Lionel Shriver (We Need to Talk about Kevin), publishing entrepreneur and Lonely Planet co-founder Tony Wheeler, legendary Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig, and festival favourite Richard Flanagan, back for a welcome encore.

     The festival also welcomes 2013 Man Booker long-listed authors Ruth Ozeki (A Tale for the Time Being) and Tash Aw (Five Star Billionaire) as well as India’s “first literary pop star”, Amish Tripathi. Among other international guests are David Vann (Legend of a Suicide), double Miles Franklin winner Kim Scott (That Deadman Dance), American talent Nami Mun, and one of France’s most prolific writers Alain Mabanckou.

      They will be joined by a top line-up of Indonesia’s finest and most successful writers and thinkers. Pre-eminent Indonesian poet and man-of-letters Goenawan Mohamad, award-winning writer Ayu Utami, bestselling writer and celebrity singer Dewi Lestari, celebrated filmmaker Garin NugrohoLaksmi PamuntjakAhmad Fuadi and more than 45 others.

     Also on the menu is an exclusive open-air preview screening of Daniel Ziv‘s highly-anticipated documentary film Jalanan, about the lives of three Jakarta street musicians.


Limbering Up

We caught up a few days ago with Lian Monley, who some time ago was here for a stretch – among other things she ran a fitness centre in Seminyak – and who tells us she was back in Bali again recently in pursuit of another of her current ventures, this one involving the social media.

     Monley runs a juice company in Sydney that delivers cold-pressed organic juice to client’s doorsteps, probably an essential in Australia’s biggest city where the pace of life can be frantic and the traffic a challenge. She says of this venture: “The business extends to restaurants bars and cafes. It’s a very modern American juicing concept which is going nuts here.” 
      Her other business – the one that brought her to Bali – is building up and involves using social media to promote businesses. It’s the big thing at the moment. Monley’s efforts here are directed towards presentations on behalf of clients about where social media is going and what leverage a business can get from it if done correctly.

     Clearly she’s a busy lady. We’ll try to catch up with her again, sometime when schedules permit. 

Stool Pigeon

We hear that a “winged “spy” has been found dead in Egypt and that a local conservation group is crying foul. It seems Egyptian police detained a stork in August when someone in Qena province, 350 kilometres southeast of Cairo, became suspicious after noticing a European wildlife tracker on the bird,  According to news agency reports authorities suspected the bird may have been linked to foreign espionage. (Memo self: Add Egypt to the Risibility Alert List.)

    The authorities eventually set the stork free, but it didn’t get far, apparently falling victim to the local custom of catching and killing – and eating – anything that happens to flutter past. The Diary sympathizes. From time to time we’ve been so hungry ourselves that we could have eaten the ass out of a low-flying duck. We might, though, draw the line at storks.

     Nature Conservation of Egypt – now there’s an organization that clearly deserves a medal for trying – which had named the stork Mendes and argued for its release, said in an understatement: “Storks have been part of the Nubian diet for thousands of years, so the actual act of eating storks is not in itself a unique practice.”

     Moving on from the sad demise of Mendes, we note that the unfortunate stork is one of several animals Egyptian authorities have suspected of sinister plotting in recent years. In January, police in the Nile Delta sent a pigeon to a criminal investigation unit because when found it had microfilm and paper tied to its feet bearing a message that read “Islam Egypt.”

    In 2010, the governor of a province in Egyptian Sinai was reported as blaming a series of shark attacks on an Israeli plot to stunt Egyptian tourism.


On Your Camel (Again)

Speaking of the Risibility Alert List (see previous item) it’s depressing to find that the FPI, the staunch defender of democracy, is still making an ass of itself over the Miss World Pageant that was to be staged in Jakarta and Bali at the end of the month and is now only going ahead in Bali.

      Apparently Bali is the focus of evil, having agreed to go ahead with the pageant in the face of advice from this self-elected group of funsters that to do so would contravene religious and social norms that are (sorry, fellas) profoundly irrelevant to Hindu Bali.

     It’s not at all clear to the Diary why staging the Miss World event is directly relevant to Bali’s image, but heck, if relevance – to say nothing of good taste – were the rule, we’d probably stage nothing much at all. The FPI represents no one except itself.  It should be free to do so since Indonesia has grasped democracy and presumably the principles that underpin it, but that is hardly the point. For the benefit of the camel corps, then, this is the point: Indonesia is a multicultural and multi-ethnic society which does not begin and end with the island of Java.

      Of course it is a shame the political apparatus is so supine but that, again, is as it is. Our advice to the FPI, repeated: Back on your camels, Bali’s not for you.


Fragile Environment

We see that the convenient belief among Indonesia’s powerful personages that they should not be asked awkward questions has spread to forests minister Zulkifli Hassan, who didn’t like what American actor Harrison Ford said to him in a filmed interview about climate change.

     He thought the interview was rude and, according to presidential adviser Andi Arief this had left him shocked. Suggestions were heard that Ford, star of the Indiana Jones adventure movies, could be deported. He was leaving Indonesia the day after the interview anyway, but apparently a tin drum was available for ministerial beating and could not be ignored.

     Minister Zulkifli is also said to have taken the view that Ford and his crew were “harassing state institutions” and added (this is tedious, if not ominous, even if it is only hot air) that “his crew and those who were helping him in Indonesia must be questioned to find out their motives for harassing a state institution.”

      Ford also interviewed President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, though not shockingly, it seems. He was in Indonesia to film for an upcoming TV series on climate change called Years of Living Dangerously, related to national forestry policy that permits large-scale forest clearing across the archipelago to make way for paper and palm oil plantations, as well as for mining and agriculture.


Pure Gold

Indonesia hand Geoffrey Gold recently had some happy news to tell a popular LinkedIn group, Australians in Indonesia. August was a record month for the Indonesia Australia Report, a documentary website. Visits to the website that month exceeded 3000, followers of its Twitter news service approached 500 and views of its Indonesia Australia Weekly online compilation of links to recent newspaper articles topped 1000.

     Gold also said the number of Australians resident in Indonesia who had joined the LinkedIn discussion group had doubled and noted they had just started a Facebook Page for others to keep up with our latest articles and conversations. 

      It’s well worth visiting www.indonesia-australia.com . Newly on the site is an overview of the new Australian government’s policies on engagement with Indonesia.

Hector tweets @ scratchings

HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser, April 3, 2013

His fortnightly diet of worms and other non-religious experiences

In the Pink as Always

Gaye Warren of Bali Pink Ribbon tells us this year’s fundraising walk – on April 28 at Nusa Dua – will be better than ever, and even more fun. We’re going along for our annual outing in fetching pink and to walk the 5km track out and back from the grounds of the Bali Tourism Development Corporation headquarters.

The BPR team is looking for at least 500 walkers for the 2013 walk, distinguished by being the first since the opening this year of Pink Ribbon House in Jl Dewi Sri at Kuta. The event, complete with eclectic food stalls serving fare provided by international hotels, opens at 2.30pm with an entertainment programme including music and a prize draw. The walk itself commences at 4pm, after the heat of the afternoon. It’s in its fourth year.

The Pink Ribbon Walk is the major event to raise funds to continue and expand the education programme and also to implement patient support programmes at Pink Ribbon House. These programmes are new and in great demand as breast cancer is a threat to many disadvantaged Balinese women who otherwise might not be diagnosed. Breast cancer checks will be available at the event.

Why not put together a team for the walk? Tickets cost Rp150K for adults and Rp.750K for students, Children under 12 walk free. Details are available on the web at balipinkribbon.com, by email at balipinkribbon@gmail.com, and telephone +62816295815 or +62816966251.

No Nookie!

Doubtless the happy trippers of the national assembly who are looking at criminal codes in the EU as part of their essential non-internet research into proposed revisions of the Indonesian code will be asking their liberal, democratic European hosts how they deal with the horrific practice of unlicensed nookie. For our fine legislators propose to punish this heinous offence, upon its detection by the prophylactic squad, by sending the participants to jail.

The suggestion – we heard it from Justice and Human Rights Ministry director Wahiddin – is that people found to have engaged in premarital sex could be jailed for five years while it will also be illegal for unmarried couples to live together. They would get up to one year in jail. Presumably the new code and its penalties will also apply to extramarital sex. That could lead to even more cells being occupied and lots of offices being vacated. The former would be a bad thing. The latter has its attractions.

Apparently the revisions to the criminal code, especially those related to the fact that large numbers of Indonesians choose to have sex with each other, are necessary because the present code does not reflect Indonesia’s societal norms. Wahiddin’s view was supported by a legislator from the People’s Conscience Party, Syarifuddin Sudding, who said: “I think it would be good if this is regulated.”

We think it’s a good thing we read this rubbish. If we’d missed it, we’d never have known it was National Nonsense Day.

Erection News

Bali is in the midst of an erection campaign. Some people have even noticed this and are beginning to suggest that the island might lose large parts of its unique character – not to mention tourists – if we persist in the maniacal project to turn lots of it into something resembling Jakarta.

Governor Pastika is to be counted among this happy band of better-futurists. It’s a shame that like provincial leaders everywhere in the country he is effectively sidelined on developmental questions because planning (ha!) and building permissions reside with the districts (regencies) and their leaders. These subordinate gentlemen – insubordinate is a better term – believe they owe only notional tutelage to governors.

None the less, erection campaigns are always worth watching. This is because they are invariably accompanied by pie in the sky. It’s the essential ingredient, something like the mystery herbs and spices in Colonel Sanders’ chicken dinners.

The latest soup de jour is a project for a monorail that will connect all regencies in Bali. This is being evaluated by a Chinese railway operator. It is a worthy successor to the round-island railway scheme that got an outing in 2009 and which was to follow the road system. This was to avoid expensive land acquisition, though the Simpang Siur shemozzle is a useful example of the swingeing cost of a clumsy non sequitur, and was being evaluated by Indian railway tycoons. They have long since gone away for a curry-puff break.

Picking up the Tempo

A little note from the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival – it was on their Facebook, a prime resource for distantly disfavoured delvers into the mysteries of life on Janet DeNeefe’s literary hillside – tells us Goenawan Mohamad will make an appearance at this year’s festival, from Oct. 11-15.

That’s really great news. Goenawan Mohamad is a poet and man of letters and founder of what is unarguably Indonesia’s best as well as its most politely pugnacious current affairs magazine, Tempo.

He was listed as 1999 International Editor of the Year by World Press Review magazine and in 2006 was one of four journalists to receive the Dan David Prize. Three US$1 million awards are made each year by the Israel-based Dan David Foundation established in 2000 with a US$100 million endowment by the Romanian-born international businessman and philanthropist Dan David. The first awards were handed out in May 2002.

Goenawan’s latest books of poetry are Don Quixote (2011) and 70 Puisi (70 Poems). His plays are published in Tan Malaka dan Tiga Lakon lain.

The festival dates are Oct. 11-15. The event was rescheduled to avoid clashing with a much less literary gabfest, the 2013 APEC Summit being held at Nusa Dua in October.

Making a Difference 

There’s an interesting exhibition coming up this month at the Ganesha Gallery at Four Seasons Resort Jimbaran. It will show works by five Bali-based female artist and raise money for the Senang Hati Foundation, a charity based at Tampak Siring near Ubud which has been looking after disabled Balinese since 2003.

The exhibition – The Power of Creative Women – is the fourth such collaboration over the past 10 years. The five artists are Ida Ayu Wiadnyani Manuaba, Putu Suriati, Kartika Sudibia, Nina Packer and Cheryl Lee. The exhibition opens on April 23, Kartini Day, which celebrates the birth date of Raden Ajeng Kartini, regarded as the founding figure of the still extant struggle for women’s rights in Indonesia.

Works by the artists will be auctioned on the night with all proceeds donated to the foundation.

Happy Birthday

Way back in 2004, when Made Wijaya was just into his fifties, Sydney writer Eric Ellis suggested him as number one of the eight best things to see in Bali. His MW brief of nine years ago, published in The Sydney Morning Herald, is worth reprising here:

The Naughty Made Wijaya: There’s a school of Australian visitors to Bali who like their footy, beer and burgers and don’t fully realise they’ve left Australia when they lob in their Kuta flophouse. At the other extreme, there are those who go the whole cultural hog and behave as if they were Balinese in a former life, and sometimes even this one. Made Wijaya likes to have a go at both of them – and all permutations in between – usually via his entertaining website http://www.strangerinparadise.com and his monthly magazine, The Poleng. Both are well worth viewing before you fly north. Born Michael White and a one-time Sydney tennis pro, Wijaya swam ashore to Bali from a yacht in 1973 and he has been there ever since. He is now a successful architect and resort designer but, most entertaining of all, an often acerbic social commentator. He can be too easily dismissed as a flake by his critics but that is to decry his skills as a linguist – he is one of the few long-term foreigners on the island to learn Balinese – and expertise on Hindu culture. Wijaya holds court at Villa Bebek (Duck House). Visit his site and drop him a line. If he decides he likes you, he might even respond.

These days The Stranger is published monthly in Now Bali magazine. It’s always worth reading and the stranger the better works for us. We read him regularly even though we’d end up in the soup if we went to the Duck House.

It was Wijaya’s birthday on March 22. He was 60 and was celebrating not only that milestone but also 40 years in Bali. He did so with a special showing of the movie The King and I. He likes the film, he says, because the Hollywood costume worn by star Yul Brynner shows sartorial descent from formerly royal attire of Java.

Hector’s Diary appears in the Bali Advertiser’s fortnightly print edition and on its website http://www.baliadvertiser.biz. Hector tweets @scratchings.