May 8-14, 2009

Saved! By Yet Another
Jakarta Smokescreen

IT’S SO good to read that Jakarta’s civic authorities are taking a lead in a great national endeavour and finally getting to grips with the central issues of pollution and ubiquitous environmental health risk that confront the people of their under-serviced metropolis. And after so long! The law on which they are finally acting is one passed in 2005. Ahem, that’s four years ago.

But never mind. They’re on the job now, sending squadrons of eager-beaver Botherers out to catch the miscreants red-handed and subject them to criminal sanction. These people are a fundamental threat to life and limb, after all. They pollute the atmosphere. They create poisonous rubbish. Even worse, they ignore regulations (and here we were thinking that doing so was a way of life in Indonesia; silly us). These days they even tend to gather in seditious little groups, which always alarms the authorities, who respond – as authorities always do – by creating even more opportunities for ticket-issuers to make a nuisance of themselves.

And these people? Are they the ones who block the drains (Drains? What are they?) and waterways with mountains of dumped rubbish, helping to spread disease, kill wildlife and create floods? Are they the people whose concept of efficient internal combustion is an engine that avoids only by the narrowest of squeaks creating enough smoke to kill you immediately and just fails to completely obscure your view of the road? Are they factory owners who prefer not to spend money on plant and equipment and instead run it dangerously into the ground, and who might fake a tear, as long as it doesn’t put a brake on profit, if one of their employees is injured or killed on the job? Are they people who allow pools of stagnant water to offer prime breeding grounds for dengue and other disease-carrying mosquitoes and for waterborne killers like typhoid and diphtheria, or leave rotting refuse around to help the rats along with their daily round of vectoring various diseases?

Well, no. These baleful people, this baneful collective, are smokers: ordinary folk who use a legal product and contribute such a lot to tax revenue.

He’s Their Man

LEX Bartlem, Australia’s newish man on the spot in Bali and points east, is quite a hit in Lombok, we hear. They view him there as the very model of a modern consul-general, following a visit he made to the island just after ANZAC Day. Australian (and by treaty arrangement, Canadian) expats on Lombok and Sumbawa are counted in his flock for consular purposes.

His message to them was that he wants them to feel assured that despite the strip of water between them and us – and that Wallace Line thing that changes the flora and fauna among other environments – they’re a top priority of his office.

We’ve Got the Screaming Abdabs

BALI, in case you hadn’t noticed, played host this week to the Asian Development Bank conference. What a jamboree! It began with a 4,000-seat entertainment extravaganza at GWK on Sunday night. We hear the logistics of moving the Favoured from their hotels to GWK and back again were a very useful primer for delegates’ first item of business on Monday morning. They all attended an interesting seminar on Measures to Ensure the Common Herd Gets Out of the Way When We’ve Got Important Business to Do. (There was also an interesting panel discussion later in the week on the theme “How to Extend Your Use-By Date.”)

Jimbaran-Bukit residents tell us they think the headline act at Sunday’s funfest must have been the Screaming Abdabs. They could be heard far and wide, we’re told. Ah, well, maybe it kept the possibly rabid dogs at bay.

We shall read the final communiqué – and any media guff the ADB bureaucracy deigns to put out – with close attention. Promise.

A Celestial Occasion

OUR favourite party duo – Lord Quaffalot of Poteen and Baron Graf von Spee-Kiezy – were unaccountably left off the jest list (oops, guest list) for the latest glit-lit event in Ubud, a bolly-and-bling thing arranged by the luminous so that selected patrons could get a secret sighting of Warwick Purser, who, we hear, may be joining that stellar cluster residence-wise. Thus we have to rely on our very own Stella Kloster, ever a girl to gather when bubbles are about, for a report.

Purser, who is now an Indonesian citizen (though he seems to have managed to live with his Anglo name throughout all his years here), duly put in an appearance. So did the former Michael White, who hasn’t managed to live with his Anglo name at all, who is said to believe that The Bali Times is a “white supremacist paper,” and whose contribution to Balinese culture on the night in question was to appear in something hideously green and red. (Memo FMW: You don’t actually get IN the cocktails.)

Stella reports – from behind the third bougainvillea on the right, because on this occasion, unusually, she was seriously out-blinged, though there was a silver lining because her hidey-hole was conveniently close to the ice box where the bubbly was – that Purser wowed the small crowd. Decorously, of course: this event was not for the great unwashed who might get visibly over-enthusiastic and among whom designer stubble is not designer stubble at all, but merely evidence of lack of hygiene.

Des Res, At a Cost

THE Diary’s resident Lombok spy tells us a delightful story about long-term resident Don Storen – now a permanent guest of the Indonesian people at Mataram jail, where he’s serving a lengthy sentence for crimes he, like around 90 percent of convicts, claims he did not commit – and a new chum, an expat fellow who made the grievous error of expressing irritation with a fractious local by waving a military sword in his general direction. He is being accommodated in Mataram jail for 11 months while he works out that being quietly irritated by asinine idiocy and frightful sloth is a better policy.

Inmate Storen – an Aussie of notoriety who has a plausible story for every infraction you could think of (and others you can’t or wouldn’t want to) and a remarkable facility for liberating money from people who express the merest hint of concern about his welfare – apparently having heard that he was about to acquire a new companion, offered to sort out a nice cell and get it painted and cleaned for him. A snip at Rp3 million, we hear.

The new chum duly appeared and settled into his newly painted, buffed and polished place of confinement. A day or so later he had a visit from a little chap who said it had been he who had done him this favour. Oh thanks, said our man, and it was good of Mr. Don to organise it too. Ah, yes, came the response, but now you owe me money. Why so? Ah, well, it seems Mr. Don had handed over significantly less than the full moneybag of smackeroos he had requested from his new chum to have the work performed.

Ah, It’s 2009!

GOOD to see that the 2009 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival now has a website that (like the rest of us) recognises that 2009 is upon us. Well, actually well underway. 2008 was last year. Not that 2008 was much of year, of course, apart from the UWRF, which was magic. This year is shaping up as an even better one for the festival – it’s on in October – and Hec is keeping an eye out for little flashes of light that may fall from heaven (or at least from Guru Central).

They’re LOHFE-ing Again

FANCY a glass of Aga Red, Hatten Wines’ “Balinese” red? Well, tough. And that’s not because Aga Red is a taste you could easily un-acquire if any alternatives were affordable. It’s because you can’t get it at the moment. A reader’s intelligence to this effect is supported by Hector’s own assiduous analysis of the local wine market. It’s dry. And we don’t even mean as in dry whites. We mean as in “nada”; nothing; none; kosong; habis. Finished. All gone.

The problem shouldn’t be a problem. The Australians have plenty of spare products of the grape just waiting to be put into differently labelled bottles. Or even a cask. So wine joins whisky and sundry other products, not all of them alcoholic by any means, on the LOHFE manifest. The list of hard-to-find essentials just gets longer and longer. (Has anyone seen any Jack Daniel’s around lately? And no, we don’t mean the friendly fellow who puts out Bali Update or any of the other Daniels he hates being confused with, preferring to be the only Daniel in the lion’s den.)

Oh dear, life in paradise does have its difficulties.

A Big Welcome

WE say hello this week to another keen competitor on the Bali-Perth route – AirAsia Indonesia.

As the GFC bites deeper, and begins to impact heavily on European and North Asian tourist travel, the Australian market is likely to gain in relative strength. We are such close neighbours, after all.

Kylie’s Other Handicap

HECTOR would like to thank Cassie White, otherwise a person unknown, for taking the trouble to post an item on ABC Online’s must-read blog The Shallow End the other day, advising that Kylie Minogue and her boyfriend Andres Velencoso apparently spent AUS$82,000 on golf gear in England.

It seems the little Aussie crooner, who long ago parlayed a part in a TV soapie (Neighbours, to which, to his continuing bemusement, Hec’s dear old mum was addicted) into a “singing” career, got the taste for the game while holidaying in Queensland over Christmas.

Later, on returning to the UK, where she has non-Aussie neighbours who haven’t a clue where Ramsay Street actually is, Kylie and her current squeeze reportedly spent hours buying made-to-order equipment and being specially fitted.

We hope her golf is better than her singing.

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One Response to “May 8-14, 2009”

  1. James Says:

    well you know, maybe Indonesia is not the one exception to the pretty widely accepted rule that smoking costs a nation far more in health costs than is returned in tax revenues.

    Smoking and the promotion of it to people of all ages is a huge health issue for Indonesia and kills hundreds of thousands a year, just to return a profit for massive corporations. Shame on you for being so self centred.

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