They Want to Be Friends (With Your Wallet)

By Hector

It used to be said, before we all got namby-pamby and opted out of making public observations of others’ idiocy, lest we hurt their feelings, that there’s a fool born every minute. Such appears to be the case among some of the unwary who visit Kuta and fall foul of what, in the delightful transformation of language one finds here, are “hypnotist” gangs.

Sundry poor sufferers have been thus, criminally, suborned and their wallets significantly lightened, by this curious alchemy. They fall in with people they’ve never seen before (and never will again), have a chat and a laugh and a drink, become lifelong pals, and then become – again in delightful transformation – “confused.”

Their new chums have spiked their drink, the better to access funds to which in everyday, ordinary circumstances they would be denied access.

It is a fundamental truth that you cannot protect people from their own stupidity (it is possible to educate them out of ignorance and more should be done there) and unfortunately tourists are among the groups most likely to lose all sense of reality when they land in a strange place.

The cautionary tale for policemen whose job it is to catch criminals if they cannot first deter them, as we know from Bali Police chief Hadiatmoko’s abrupt recent declaration on same, is that lack of performance can lead to the sack. Yes, really. Apparently even in Bali.

The similar alert for foolish tourists (if “alert” is a functional status within their capabilities) is that strangers who accost you in the street are most likely not your long-lost family and could just possibly be looking out for their own (nefarious) interests rather than those of the hapless mug they’ve just managed to leg-rope in the street.

Oops

“The Bali peace park project was foundered by Australian, Dallas Finn…”

Well, things are a little rocky, it seems, not to mention even more confused than ever, where the future status of the Sari Club bomb site is concerned. But we do hope the statement above, from the “fact file” on the website of the “balipeacepark,” a rival organisation lately invented by Finn, apparently without funds or any plans to raise them and with an invisible membership, is just a mistake and not a prescient remark.

Meanwhile the “official” Bali Peace Park Association will release details of its “benefits analysis” of a Sari Club site peace park at a function in Bali on October 11. That should be an interesting document.

Objection!

In a range of cases before Bali’s courts lately prosecutors – in demanding fire and brimstone, which arguably is their job – and more worryingly judges, for some of whom the prudence part of jurisprudence apparently takes unscheduled days off, have made much play of a defendant’s crimes being injurious to Bali’s international standing.
 
They may be. But that should have no bearing on the severity of a sentence. There are prescribed penalties – within a range which gives judges plenty of scope to award extra demerits for moral turpitude or whatever – and these are codified. Not one of them includes a clause specifying a penalty for embarrassing Bali or, in that precise set of circumstances, potentially harming its economy.

They shouldn’t, of course. But it is particularly despicable to hear – as we did this week from the prosecutor in the appeal hearing of Scott Rush, the little oaf who at 19 (he’s now 24) apparently didn’t have the brains to realise smuggling heroin was morally wrong, let alone that it was dangerous and a crime – that Rush should die because drug smuggling was a serious threat to the image of Bali.

Prosecutor Ida Bagus Made Argitha Chandra should find a mirror and take a long, hard look at himself: and he should ask, Is that an image worth dying for? 

Another Mote

We thought long and hard about this before deciding to commit it to a communion with printer’s ink. And we shan’t name the hospital, even though on the facts as known it richly deserves the opprobrium, because the circumstances of its dereliction of duty are sadly common nowadays, everywhere, not just here.

Readers will remember an item we ran on September 10 about a tragic road accident near Uluwatu, when a vehicle-load of Brazilian party boyos returning from an all-nighter in the fleshpots of Kuta wiped out a motorbike ridden by a young mum from Uluwatu, Made was her name, and injured her daughter Cindy.

Information at the time was that Made was killed instantly. Later information is that she wasn’t. She may have been fatally injured but that point is now moot. She and her daughter were rushed to Denpasar where the intended destination was Sanglah Hospital. En route Made’s condition deteriorated (she had a deep neck wound) and they diverted to another – “international standard” – hospital as that was closer.

The hospital would not lift a finger to help until someone fronted with Rp7 million (US$782). That took some time, as you would expect in a place where Rp7 million represents multiple months’ salary for most people and that’s if you’ve got a job.

Eventually someone found the money. The hospital was then happy to afford treatment to Made and Cindy. Its first job was to declare Made DOA (dead on arrival).

No doubt the hospital has financial control rules. No doubt it does not regard itself as a charity (nor should it). No doubt the health legislation in Bali is severely deficient in that – apparently – there is no provision for the state to pick up the unavoidable costs of emergency treatment in life or death situations.

But what of the doctors and the Hippocratic Oath? Was that in the litter bin too, along with humanity and simple compassion?

Watch the Chooks

The visit here this week of elements of Australia’s Special Air Service Regiment to train with Kopassus in an anti-terrorism exercise afforded few opportunities to observe Her Australian Majesty’s Chicken Stranglers at play. This is understandable. The lads would have been a bit busy.

It did remind The Diary of a wonderful tale from the early days of George W. Bush’s war on terror, when Dubya and the coalition of the willing targeted Iraq on the grounds that Saddam Hussein was a chemical warrior and not just a chap who’d have difficulty managing a henhouse.

The world’s press was vitally interested in a rumour that the Australian SAS was involved. They couldn’t find them. Until some bright spark noticed a few chaps running around in shorts. Only an Aussie would do that in the desert between the Jordanian border and the Euphrates.    

Titanic Error

Our eye was caught by the little come-on the Jakarta Globe had in its page one plugs last Thursday, asking if a simple steering error sank the Titanic. We think the answer’s obvious (and obviously yes). The unsinkable ship steamed full-pelt into the consequently unavoidable iceberg on April 15, 1912.

The same edition carried a story about a very heavy Golkar personage becoming chairman of the Lippo Group, which bankrolls the Globe. Metaphorical unsinkable ships and icebergs are surely just as risky.

Soft Bash

Another of Janet de Neefe’s little ventures – no, not A Certain Bank’s Scribblers and Gabblers 2010; that’s next week – had a soft opening this week, up in the hills at Ubud where hopefully the not-so-soft rain was taking a break.

This one was at De Neefe’s new Bar Luna, on Jl Gootama, which celebrated softly on Tuesday with a sampling of its new menu including tapas and sangria for invited guests from 6-7.30pm. A full dinner menu was apparently available from 7pm. Wonder if it had soft-shell crab for the occasion?

The affray – Janet does those so well, as we know – was also a celebration of the shared birthdays of two lads who are apparently so widely known that they only needed to be identified as Andy and Michael, connections we assume of Janet de Neefe Enterprises, Inc.

We’re sure it was a good night. The Diary didn’t get an invitation, or indeed a response to a query about the names of the birthday boys. Well, we’ve always known we’re not in Janet’s little black book. Never mind. There are significant compensations: Apparently we’ve made it onto Janet’s little black list.

Kupang Slap

There was a pleasant occasion last Friday, at the Australian Consulate-General in Renon: the annual barbecue for this year’s crop of scholarship students from Bali and points east going (next year) to study in Australia.

New consul-general Brent Hall – no, that’s not true: he’s the old consul-general (he’s been here before) and he’s only acting in the position until a new permanent appointee is in place; he’s on loan from the Australia-Indonesia Institute – was an affable host and also had the job, along with others, of marking the post-dinner entertainment provided by the two groups of students attending.

Our personal choice – though this was academic, since The Diary, very sensibly, was not on the voting panel – was a stirring performance by one group of By The Rivers of Babylon, that wonderful Boney M song. It would have won our vote for the fine grasp of the syncretism that links the three great religions that sprang from the Middle East, exhibited by the dancing party, some of it wearing the jilbab.

But the other group was the winner, with a folkloric little number that features what acting consul-general Hall advises The Diary is known as a Kupang Slap. It’s a sharply playful tap on the bum administered by a passing partner.

diary@thebalitimes.com

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2 Responses to “They Want to Be Friends (With Your Wallet)”

  1. Debbie Says:

    Dear Hector,

    Clearly passing judgement before all the facts
    are in place seems to be your forte,or should we
    say this newspaper clearly loves stirring the
    pot…

    To make an accusation like that toward Mr Finn,
    clearly shows the immaturity on your part.
    The current story in question has been taken out
    of context by the Editor.

    My suggestion to you, if you want to go anybody,
    to vent your frustrations toward the Association
    whom promised a peace park by the Anniversary,
    they have no money…or what they did have
    was spent on a letter threatning Mr Finn with
    legal action on claims they the Association
    could not even back up!

    I would like to clarify thier is a Community
    group that has been formed, not an Association
    that was reported by this newspaper, partly to
    do with the Association lack of transparency and
    to look at other avenues.

    The group is looking at alternative sites for the
    peace park, some of the land in question is
    owned by Government and yes Mr Finn was asked to
    front this, this is someone whom is not afraid
    to speak out for the Balinese Community.

    We must also point out there is still no
    contract on the land and nor likely to be in the
    near future.

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