June 12-18, 2009



WORTH NOTING: An unusual art exhibition at Ubud, in which one of the works on display, Doa Yang Terucapkan (Prayer to the Lord), a mixed media oncanvas creation by artist Syalabi Asya, is shown here. The exhibition, Underdoc, at the Hanna Art Space, features the work of 13 artists, is curated by Agus Koecink, and runs until June 30. The gallery is in Jl. Raya Pengosekan, at Peliatan.

Omni Present. And, It Seems, That’s a Pity

WHATEVER the defective properties of Indonesia’s misdirected defamation laws, the actions of the Omni International Hospital in Tangerang (Jakarta) in persecuting Prita Mulyasari, a woman who had complained in an email about her experience of their service and attitude, are incomprehensible.

Leaving aside the linked issues of (1) the willingness of lawyers to prosecute beyond reasonable bounds if given enough money to do so and (2) whether it’s actually sensible to squash a fly with a pile-driver, all the hospital – and the corporate empire to which it belongs – has done through its preposterous overreaction is create an immense and hugely negative public relations problem.

That’s a rather curious corporate policy. If anyone sentient had been involved, they would surely have worked out that it was the last thing a service-sector company – let alone one operating in the hospital and healthcare sector, which is supposed to be all about caring – should want.

What’s the pitch? Come to us; use our services, which will probably cost you an arm and a leg (not literally, we hope); and if you complain that we’re rude and the treatment wasn’t what you expected, we’ll sue you and have you thrown in jail? Stupid!

Tycoons who build profitable businesses have a moral duty to others. Wealth and power should be used for the benefit of many, not selfishly or as a means of trampling on the little people. Indonesia’s laws should reflect – and enforce – the communal focus and shared responsibilities that are the shining light of its true culture. Perhaps our febrile lawmakers and their leaders should use this appalling incident to reflect on that.

Stella Reports

TREE-hugger, historical fictionist and radical film scriptwriter Richard Flanagan, who fled both the damp chills of winter and what he would like to be the angst-ridden ambience of remembered British bitchiness in his home state of Tasmania in Australia last weekend for a literary dinner at Ubud, probably enjoyed the experience, as well as the unaccustomed warmth.

By all accounts he looked relaxed and comfortable dealing affably with the questions put to him at the event – the latest in the 2009 Ubud Writers and Readers Festival warm-up programme – by festival founder and Ubud entity Janet DeNeefe.

Stella Kloster, our undercover girl about town, reports that while corks didn’t exactly pop (a situation foreign to Stella’s experience) the crowd at DeNeefe’s Indus restaurant for the event seemed to enjoy the experience too. It included samplings of Tasmanian produce.

By perverse fate, these included products that would not be Tasmanian at all had history not first provided a British settlement upon which Flanagan and others could later heap ordure.

By happier coincidence, on this occasion transplanted delicacies drawn from events modern Australian historical novelists would prefer had not happened were at the same time both upon the tables and on the podium. The edible ones were presented by a formerly leading chef of Sydney. Guests could consume modest servings of this post-colonial gourmet sampling with the assistance of wine at Rp 100,000 a glass. Or perhaps they drank water instead.

One fellow present, a chap who has something to do with a stellar but lately slimmed-down promotional product known to some as Hello Bolly, spent much of his time sending text messages on his phone. He’s British apparently (golly, did Flanagan know there was an enemy infiltrator in the camp?).

But ex-colonial oppressor or not, he’s evidently picked up at least one local habit.

Bolly and Bling Time

THE Bali villa party season seems to be getting into its swing. It always happens when the rain eases off. La Vie, at Seminyak, celebrated last weekend – well to be strictly accurate, last Friday night; and if it was a good party perhaps few were celebrating on Saturday or Sunday – in the style to which local members of the stellar classes are accustomed. Heaps of teeth. Kilos of bling. Lots of noise. The Diary was quietly eating mie goreng elsewhere at the time.

They must have had a big invitation list. One chap we know got two. Don’t think he went twice. Actually, we’re not even sure he went once.


Carla Zampatti

Exotic Threads

WE make a lot of good threads here in Bali, so it is nice to be able to applaud an honour awarded to a very leading seamstress indeed, Australian fashion designer Carla Zampatti, who scored a Companion (AC), the highest award, in her country’s Queen’s Birthday honours list announced on Monday.

The Companion became the highest available award, by the way, when the Aussies, shortly after devising their own system to take the place of the British imperial gongs previously handed around, decided they had made a mistake in including a Knight of Australia (AK) in the order. They sensibly shelved this as an invidiously archaic practice.

Zampatti migrated to Australia from Italy many years ago and painstakingly built a business and carved out a great role in public life. Also among those honoured was the pioneer head and neck surgeon Professor Chris O’Brien, a familiar face to viewers of Australia Network television, which screens the reality medical series RPA (Royal Prince Alfred, a leading Sydney hospital).

Tragically Professor O’Brien, who founded the pioneering Lifehouse cancer treatment facility at the hospital that his friend, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, opened in April, died of a brain tumour just days before his award of AO was publicly announced. He was only 57 and will be sorely missed.

Pressing Business

THERE is movement in the frenetic little world of Bali’s glossy mags. Barudibali.com has moved from its ample Istana Kuta Galeria office into a small one on Jl.Laksmana at Seminyak – the legendary Oberoi Street, where, according to many legends in their own lunchtimes, all the Expat Action is.

It produces The Mag (well, we think it does; it’s certainly online) with lots of gloss and hidden cavities. Rather like a set of advertising teeth. Its latest edition has a lovely story on how you can take the ferry from Bali to Java – from Gilimanuk – and be really bored in Banyuwangi for a whole day.

We’re sure a journalist with an eye trained to spot the curious and photograph the interesting would have had a much better time.

It’s run by a Dutchman who once told our editor there was a market for an English-language newspaper in Bali. Hey, great tip!

Another one is Bali Now (which from its remarkably low profile should perhaps be called Bali Now and Then, or even If You Can Find It (though we did spot a copy in Maccaroni, that place with the air curtain in Jl. Legian, the other day), which is said to operate from an office at the Pasifika Museum in Nusa Dua.

It is apparently the result of an unfriendly little to-and-fro between the chap who used to provide the flimflam to put in Hello Bali and those who were paying him to do so.

From Woe to Go

BALI’S a great place to visit. And this must be especially so, we think, if previously you should have been exposed to the remarkable standard of service and guest relations employed at one particularly lacklustre place in Croatia. The useful Travel Advisor website tells this story, supplied by some unhappy tourists who visited the resort town of Rovinj.

“Have you ever been thrown out from your own hotel room without a single warning? If not, go to Angelo d’Oro. We booked a suite together with two friends for two nights on the phone. After the first night, and a poor and ridiculously unprofessional breakfast, we left the hotel at noon. When we got back to the hotel at 8pm, our shuttle driver told us that our room had already been given to some other guests.”

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