Anyone who might wonder why the Australians have such a substantial consular presence in Bali need look no further than the media – the bit of it that reports news that is, like The Bali Times in English and a wide range of daily newspapers in Bahasa – for the reasons. One of them is the constant drizzle of dumbos who fall out of the sky with illegal drugs in their baggage or on their persons and consequently fall foul of Indonesia’s well publicised (and we think, though this is peripheral to the case, overly draconian) anti-narcotics laws.
It’s getting to the point where, as already noted by our new columnist Novar Caine (he’s in Perspective today, on Page 9), the prison authorities will surely have to consider building a special Pelaku Australia wing at Kerobokan: there are so many Australians confined therein, some of them with highly fanciful defence arguments withering away to yellowed dust in their “nice try, fail” legal portfolios, that ordinary Indonesian criminals are clearly being unfairly squeezed.
The latest Aussie to have his photo taken in his new Bali t-shirt – the one with “Pelaku” (“Actor”) emblazoned across the front – is a chap originally from Sydney called Michael Sacatides, who is 43 and apparently a kick-boxing instructor in Bangkok. Perhaps he specialises in particularly clumsy students and they’ve kicked him in the head too often.
He was detained last Friday when he arrived on an AirAsia flight from the Thai capital for a short holiday – three days, now indefinitely extended – toting a bag he says an Indian man in Bangkok lent him for the trip. Surprise! It had 1.7 kilos of crystal meth – we know it as shabu-shabu here – which is, um, well, illegal.
We won’t canvass the case beyond that point, in deference to a preference for justice administered by reasoned argument and the fine principle that an accused is innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. That’s not the Indonesian system, or indeed that of any country with an accusatory legal system based on Roman law, but it’s fair.
But we do note Sacatides is reported to have retained Schapelle Corby’s lawyer, Erwin Siregar, to make his defence that he knew nothing about what was in his luggage. Those yellowing case notes might come in handy yet.
He No Likee
Michael White, who long ago, famously, jumped ship and changed his name, thereby inventing himself as a locally prominent person and setting a trend for others inside Bali’s blowhard expat bubble, doesn’t like The Diary. No one should be surprised. It isn’t written for people who are convinced they are indispensible to Bali and absolutely vital to the local ambience, culture and economy. Such creatures write their own diaries, where they can murder their own syntax and waste their own time.
So it was no surprise the other day to find him saying – via a little email Michael (Made) White (Wijaya) sent to his secretary and his circle and thoughtfully blind-copied to your Diarist – “HECTOR musuh nusa dan rakyat”: “HECTOR enemy of the island and the people.” Were he to have been grammatical – apparently this is a challenge for him in all his languages – he might have written “musuh Bali dan rakyatnya”: “enemy of Bali and its people.” He’d still have been wrong, but that’s his right. You never argue with memproklamirkan diri ahli (a self-proclaimed expert) though, let alone a chap who is convinced he’s the biggest blowfish in the pool.
The cause of this petulant flurry from Sanur was an inquiry as to which of the Bali peace park proposals Wijaya now regarded as carrying his imprimatur, given that his concept sketches for same appear on two rival websites that promote construction of such a park. We thought that in these circumstances the Man in the Udeng would answer. Sadly, we were wrong. Apparently the public interest is only of concern when coincident with his.
The Diary, however, is pleased as punch. We’ve made it onto two prominent blacklists within days: clearly we’re doing something right. We noted last week that Janet de Neefe – who this week will be busy chopping up the tofu for her Rp3 million-a-head nosh with the finest writers at the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival – has blacklisted us too.
White Wijaya spreads his disfavours around, you have to hand him that. There was an anguished squeak last weekend from collector and purveyor about town Susi Johnson – a squawk in jest, of course, and The Diary knows about it because in another life we’re Facebook friends with the delightful Ms Johnson – who had been “unfriended” by the Udenged One.
We’re not really sure why. Maybe Michael Made isn’t either. But take heart, Susi. You’re in good company (see next item).
Liz Henzell, formerly a columnist in The Bali Times and one of fiercest proponents of the Bali Animal Welfare Association’s grand strategy of vaccinating every dog in sight – which won’t be close to BAWA’s “international target” of 70 percent of them, count on it – as an alternative to reducing numbers first as a means of controlling rabies, “unfriended” someone very well known to The Diary this week.
That’s a pity, he tells us. He’d been enjoying Liz’s recently posted come-on photo on her Facebook page. The unfriending took place shortly after he engaged Liz, who lives in the Wudbees (aka Ubud) and barks at people who have ideas she considers strange, on the issue of the most effective strategy to combat rabies.
Our friend (the unfriended one) had noted that BAWA’s pilot vaccination-only programme in Gianyar, the one that’s apparently piloted the provincial government towards taking foreigners’ money and letting them take over the island’s number-one public health crisis, hadn’t saved the life of poor Wayan Leges of Tegallalang, who contracted rabies and recently died, in the same horribly cruel and unnecessary way that, on the official count, 93 of his fellow Balinese had previously.
Her last riposte, before slamming down the shutters and shouting the Facebook equivalent of something we won’t print here, was to write: “You don’t give a toss about poor Pak Wayan.”
In that crass and idiotic response, we know, she is very, very wrong.
The Wall Street Journal has mentioned Bali. Don’t get too excited. It’s nothing to do with the sort of big business that goes on here in the nightspot sector or the emergence of a Ku De Ta in Singapore (we’re still trying to get to the bottom of that story). It’s all about spas: the big, plush, expensive ones where the rich – or the merely spendthrift – can indulge themselves and lie back, close their eyes and think they’re having a spiritual experience.
The newspaper’s Life & Style section, in a potted summation of Asia’s best spas in its October 1 edition, named Alila Vilas Uluwatu, Bulgari and Como Shambala at Ubud in their Top Spas list.
We’ve always known there had to be something good about the Big Durian, a hidden compensation that makes life in Jakarta bearable; a little breeze that from time to time, even if only metaphorically, clears away some of the hot air and carcinogenic smog that are the city’s chief products.
All great cities provide residents and visitors alike with prizes, especially in access to performing arts. These are less easily available in Bali – although the jazz at Ryoshi in Seminyak, among other places, makes it worth putting up with the horrendous traffic and parking problems you get in the KLS strip – and one recent Jakarta treat (which The Diary missed, being in Bali) was the visit there by the Australian quintet Topology. They were at the city’s Salihara Festival as part of the month-long OzFest 2010 presented by the Australian embassy.
Topology, which has been making fine contemporary music since 1996 and is renowned for its energetic and full-bodied sound, presented two programmes (Lucid Dreaming and Corridors of Power) on October 3 and 4 and workshops for Indonesian musicians and students.
Wish we could have been there.
In the Pink
Adam Lambert would like everyone to know he has been reborn in Bali. (The Diary had to check, on hearing this piece of essential intelligence last weekend, as to exactly who Lambert was, his presence among us Earthlings having formerly gone unnoticed.) He’s a singer, it seems, who warbles for the world, or at least for Generation Why, whose untutored musical tastes are not The Diary’s, who wouldn’t know a minim or a quaver, far less an adagio, even if by some miracle one did manage to tickle their fancy, and who probably think a viola is something a traffic cop might half threaten to cite you for.
Lambert is also an American Idol, or nearly was or something, and has recently – between engagements – indulged himself at the Four Seasons Jimbaran. It is there, we gather, that he was reborn. That’s what his Twitter said, anyway. Well, we love Bali, and Jimbaran, and Four Seasons as well; especially the eclectic art that goes on show at the Ganesha gallery there. Perhaps we’ve been reborn too? Maybe we should tweet about it.
In June 2009 Lambert felt the need to inform the world that he’s gay. Why this is important eludes us – a lot of people bat for the other team and always have; and so what – but perhaps, since he’s in showbiz, it has promotional value.