May 1-7, 2009

Gearing Up to Face the Future

AMERICAN journalism teacher Cliff Hahn tells us he had a really lovely time in Ubud last weekend, working with 35 local kids to introduce them to the principle and practice of journalism. It was a workshop sponsored by the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival – The Bali Times is media sponsor of that annual extravaganza – and is a productive example of how events such as the UWRF can help the next generation.

Hahn, who is a youth development consultant and former New York Director of Children’s Express, an award-winning not-for-profit agency that created youth media programmes in the United States, Britain and Japan, says youth media can help young people make a difference in their communities.

He told The Diary of his Ubud experience: “The workshop went really well and we had 35 Balinese kids attend both days. They practised working on stories they thought of: the problem of garbage in their communities, the quality of village education, orphans and child labour.

“My goal was to share with local kids my experience and knowledge from teaching media skills to other kids all over the world and what I found exceeded all my hopes. Balinese children have great ideas, enthusiasm and a real hunger for knowledge and having their voices heard.”

Hahn’s website is at UWRF is at

Another Myth in the Making

GARUDA, the notional airline named for Indonesia’s mythical ancient eagle, fresh from dumping Darwin as a destination after 28 years, has announced with a fanfare that it is to return to Bali-Brisbane service in November. It’s a “prospective market” at present, according to CEO Emirsyah Satar, who told reporters in Jakarta on April 24 that he hoped everything went to plan. Now that would be a good idea.

We remember an earlier plan that was apparently deficient in that crucial area. That was when Garuda late last year announced a return to Brisbane – which it had had to let go when its creative let’s-not-pay-our-leases bookkeeping scheme resulted in the not unexpected disappearance from service of several of those strange bits of equipment that airlines need to do business (aircraft). It then failed to do so because no one bought any tickets. We’re sure that wasn’t the plan. It may have had rather more to do with lack of planning.

As to Darwin, where the future of a local soccer team is up in the air after its sponsor took its ball away and went home (yes, Garuda!), we are assured by Satar that everyone else has given Australia’s northernmost city the flick too: Silk Air, Qantas “and even Royal Brunei.” So sad, too bad, then. Never mind that Darwin, while not a big market, is such a long-term fixture in Bali’s tourism market? Or was.

Garuda has just announced a substantial profit growth, by the way. Perhaps they’re doing something no other airline around the world can manage at the moment. We just hope it’s not that they’ve inadvertently confused their revenue and expenditure columns.

WING AND A PRAYER NOTE: We see Lion Air is still flying people around in the MD-90s the government banned them from operating for safety reasons. Apparently they just make sure they’re not on Jakarta flights, where someone that matters might notice them.

See Guys, It’s Like This

THE Jakarta Globe – great paper by the way, especially now you can find it same-day in Bali – reported this week that air workers are threatening to strike over the conviction of a Garuda pilot for negligence leading to death. Survivors of his negligence will remember that Marwoto Kumar was the pilot of the Garuda 737 that landed far too fast at Yogyakarta airport in March 2007 and crashed, killing 21 people. They may remember that in a great PR coup for his by then former employer, Garuda, he wore his airline uniform at his trial. We’re sure they will be sympathetic to his displeasure at the verdict, which unaccountably showed that even though he was a pilot, he was unable to fly above the law. Undoubtedly they will agree that it was unfair that, despite wearing a pilot’s uniform to demonstrate his skill level, he should then be sent to jail.

The Indonesian Pilots Association is certain that this is a bad thing. It will make pilots worry that if they do something negligent they may be held responsible. The Garuda pilots’ association is similarly concerned that an uncomfortable precedent has been set. They see it as a clear threat to pilots involved in unfortunate accidents that have nothing to do with them if you overlook that they were flying the plane at the time.

Not good enough! In fact it’s outrageous. That’s not why they paid all that money to buy their way into pilot school.

May Day? Or Mayday?

MAY 1 is May Day. That’s the day when the workers of the world are supposed to unite in solidarity (originally with the illusory benefits of a Marxist approach to life, but we won’t go there) and celebrate the victories of organised labour.

It’s sometimes known as Labour Day. The Australians, being … well, Australians … celebrate the day on different dates in different states and territories, and some under different names, and honour the principle of labour by taking the day off. In other places, less focused on leisure and of a more martial bent, they celebrate with big military parades. You know, with tanks and things that, the not so subliminal message goes, could be brought out again later if the workers are revolting.

In certain countries, it is a traditional day for rioting. The French have been known to tear up the cobblestones of Paris on such occasions. In England, they get merry and dance round the Maypole. But that’s with a pre-industrial spring in their step and not with the factory floor in mind.

This year, given the GFC, we might more aptly call it Mayday. It is the international distress call, after all. But then, we’re all up the same fast-flowing creek, in the same canoe, and we’re all still arguing over who exactly it was who put the axe through the bottom of the boat and which clown threw the paddles overboard.

In these chaotic circumstances, we might more usefully take our text from the French (not with the cobblestones, though; they’re too expensive to replace). We should all shout “Merde! Merde! Merde!”  instead of  “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!”

ANZAC Day a Big Draw in Bali

THE annual Australian and New Zealand ritual of ANZAC Day – the two countries’ shared national day of remembrance, held on April 25, the anniversary of the Gallipoli landing in World War I – was marked as usual by a traditional Dawn Service, presided over by Australian Consul-General Lex Bartlem.

It was as always a solemn affair, one not to be missed by nationals of either country who can possibly make it along. This year around 230 – about half of them holidaying Australians, even people here only for a few days – turned out. Bartlem’s efficient crew of official Australians had catered for 200 (the number responding to the invitation). The Diary (and Mrs Diary), who always attends, opted not to pick up the votive candle and red poppy, leaving the few that remained for other, later arrivals.

The Seraphim Choir sang the hymn Be Still My Soul and the Australian and New Zealand national anthems. Students from Dyatmika School and Canggu Community School attended to the lowering of the flags to half-mast.

Cold Cuts for Kev?

AUSTRALIA’S Treasurer (finance minister) Wayne Swan has taken to circulating little primers on the parlous state of things financial down under as a result of everyone else in the world being very, very selfish and terribly, terribly bad and dragging the Godzone into this dreadful GFC thing.

One that popped up last Monday, datelined Washington, where he had been contributing a valuable Aussie perspective to the IMF’s WTF debate, provides a handy little pointer to the slash-and-burn 2009 national budget he’s due to deliver on May 12: “This global recession means that we will have to do more, but with far less. I’m sure Australians will understand there’s only room for money to go where it’s really needed.”

Um, Wayne, shouldn’t that always be the rule? But, never mind, there is a silver-service lining. We’re sure one well-deserved victim of the fat-trimming will be the expensive requirements of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s special dietary requirements on all his VIP flights. At present a full meal service is provided – even on his 30-minute Canberra-Sydney shuttle flights; Kev, mate, suck on a sav – as a prophylactic against PMT (that’s prime ministerial tension, aka air rage). Cold cuts perhaps?

Read This: You’ll Croak Up

HECTOR got this in the mail from a friend. He considered passing it along to the editor for the jokes column. But … Nah! It’s too good not to put in the Diary. Besides, there might be a moral in it somewhere, given the present parlous state of the world banking industry and the flood tide of toxic assets and bad loans out there.
So here goes:

A frog goes into a bank and approaches the teller. He can see from her nameplate that her name is Patricia Whack; she’s known to her friends as Patty. He says to her: “Miss Whack, I’d like to get a $60,000 loan to take a holiday.”

She looks at him in disbelief and asks his name. The frog says his name is Kermit Jagger, his dad is Mick Jagger and that it’s OK, he knows the bank manager. She explains that to get a loan he will need to secure it with some collateral.

The frog says: “Sure. I have this,” and produces a tiny porcelain elephant about 2cm tall, bright pink and perfectly formed.

Patty is very confused and explains that she’ll have to consult the bank manager. She disappears into a back office. There, she finds the manager and tells him:

“There’s a frog called Kermit Jagger out there who claims to know you and wants to borrow $60,000 and wants to use this as collateral.” She holds up the tiny pink elephant. And adds: “I mean, what in the world is this?”

The manager looks at her and says: “It’s a knickknack, Patty Whack. Give the frog a loan. His old man’s a Rolling Stone.”

(We bet some of you sang that. We did!)

Not Me Writes In

JOHN (Jack) M. Daniels, of Bali Discovery Tours, tells us he would like it to be known that he is not John Daniel, who recently wrote to The Bali Times about rabies. Consider yourselves advised.

GOT SOMETHING TO TELL HECTOR? You can email him at Want to Tweet? See him @scratchings on Twitter. Or visit his blog at

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