THE folly of the Kuta Cowboys imbroglio deepens daily. For the police, who really have more important things to do, the task of the moment appears to be filling in enough forms to ensure they can declare the Singaporean filmmaker a suspect for having failed to obtain a licence to film. That, they say, is secondary to the thorny question of whether they’ll actually be able to arrest him.
Last week’s Editorial (in The Bali Times print edition) put the counter argument with exceptional clarity. On top of that, while there is an extradition treaty in place between Indonesia and Singapore – where the gentleman concerns happens to live – it is not enforceable because Indonesia’s legislature has held up ratification. Perhaps neighbouring Singapore is seen by legislators as too convenient a bolthole to be suitable as an extradition partner.
Meanwhile, in the wake of this silly row – and while police patrol nightly to ensure that the sex trade can carry on unmolested in the Kuta party precinct – all sorts of foolish bit players are getting caught in the mesh. Even Ketut Suardana, confused spouse of “queen of Ubud” Janet DeNeefe, has got into trouble. He says, so reports put it, that handycam filmmaker Amit Virmani told him he wanted to talk about HIV/AIDS. But some pretty basic research might have forewarned the good Ketut about the likely real purpose of the interview.
There is, from The Diary’s perspective, nothing particularly wrong with gigolos. They provide, generally without the stone blind commercial purpose of a female prostitute, companionship and consensual sexual services. It may not be moral, but frankly in today’s world, a lot more is even less so. Indonesia makes a huge song and dance about sexual morality, but it’s no more enforceable here than anywhere else.
Women nowadays are much more open about sex. Young (and not so young) women actively seek sexual encounters, hopefully protected by common sense, especially when out of their home environments. The gigolo market exists chiefly for the Shirley Valentines of this world, those seekers of special comforts who – to put it at its most basic – are no longer lamb but mutton. If it is a crime it is victimless one.
EXCLAMATION marks are best avoided. Sensible publishing circles regard them as things to be used with extreme rarity. They are known to those in the trade by an indelicate slang term for the male canine endowment. And it’s really not good to make a dick of yourself.
On the face of it then, it is surprising that the bimonthly glossy Fine Restaurants and Villas has had an appendicktomy, apparently in the course of adding Travel to its masthead. We wonder whether FRV Travel! (Sic) is having some sort of identity crisis. Perhaps chief editorial adviser Stuart Wilford, who also oversees FVRT!’s stable mate, The Beat, but not holding the sort of office from which as Nero showed us it is possible to make one’s horse a Consul, has opted instead for a typographical expression of equal if not equine utility.
It may be that things are not so good at the glossy end of the property market, at least so far as those no longer with the readies to spend in the look-at-the-lovely-pictures advertising sector are concerned. And as for the compliant words that wrap around these extravagances, well there’s only so much you can say about buildings and their contents, even if you do only publish once every two months.
Anyway, it’s something to have a good yak about.
Kampai (Sort Of)
JAPAN Air Lines has been a fixture in Bali’s skies – and those of many other destinations – for many, many moons indeed. It is sad, therefore, that from September 30 JAL will not be gliding in – company practice – to Ngurah Rai International Airport.
The pride of Nippon has fallen on very hard times; that this is largely its own fault is no consolation. Its corporate shemozzle (it filed for bankruptcy protection this year) comes at a time when Japanese tourist traffic to Bali is in something of a slump. But it will miss the chance to capitalise on growth when this felicity returns.
JAL announced last October that it would be making swingeing cuts to its services and route network. It wasn’t publicly announced at the time that Bali – a prime destination – would be one of the casualties. But Ngurah Rai’s management was told at the time (setting a first along the way by managing to keep this confidential; unless of course they clean forgot about it or decided it was too early to bother with).
Hopefully, in the months between the private announcement, public acknowledgement, and suspension of service, other airlines have been preparing to take up the slack. Garuda comes to mind. Well, sort of. For that matter Japan’s second major airline, ANA, is expanding. Maybe – just maybe – All Nippon’s livery will grace the runway and taxiways of Ngurah Rai some time. That would be nice.
YOU’RE forgiven if you hadn’t noticed – these “special days” are two a penny nowadays – but tomorrow (May 8) is World Fair Trade Day. If this sounds like an oxymoron, or an unreachable dream, remember that since Don Quixote, tilting at windmills has been all the rage.
It is of course a good idea to think about fair trade. The inventively acquisitive tax and excise departments of many countries – Indonesia’s among them – could pause for thought, and wonder how they can learn to lie straight in bed. In the private sector, the rapacious gougers who run import operations on the wharves in Surabaya and Tanjung Priok could similarly seek a Pauline conversion. Customs officers might get off their ass in the same places and enforce the law rather than making things up as they go. We shan’t hold our breath.
Most of the hot air about free trade comes for politicians (who are seeking to avoid any actual impact on the rent-seeking objectives of their paying constituents in the business community or among farmers, who worldwide are notoriously the worst special pleaders of all) and poor Pascal Lamy of the World Trade Organisation. He holds the global prize for getting the biggest hospital pass ever. Doh, Ha.
It is the ubiquitous NGO (non-government organisations) sector that gets most of the popular media on matters they declare to be of seminal importance. Who would really give a fig, for example, about the Japanese spending chilly summers just off the Antarctic ice shelves in pursuit of meat from inoffensive and wondrous sea creatures were it not for the loonies of the Sea Shepherd sort who ignore maritime law and the sensible prohibition of piracy, and make high-profile clowns of themselves?
Thus, this weekend, the energetic crew at the Pekerti Foundation, an organisation that bills itself as concerned with development through fair trade in Indonesia, will join in global celebrations of World Fair Trade Day.
Its event will be held at a property at Tampak Siring – the Gianyar hill town that just last month starred as the centre of Indonesian internal summitry – to showcase its suggestions for reducing poverty and controlling climate change. The place is owned by a relative of Pekerti’s long-time handicraft producer, I Made Sujana.
We hear a tree-planting activity will take place to add to the more than 300 albasia trees Pekerti has already planted on the property. This planting, we also hear, is additional to Pekerti’s promise to plant one tree for every US$1,500 in orders received for its producers.
The tree replacement campaign helps to replace wood used by Pekerti’s producers during handicraft production, encouraging sustainability in Indonesia’s trade industry.
If you’d like more information get in touch with Yolita Ainun Rahmawati at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (021) 478 630 08.
It Never Reines
NORMALLY the ins and outs – such as they are – of the Australian glossy mag world would rate an interest level significantly likely to be outpaced by the attractions of watching paint dry. But from time to time a little gleam of light flashes from heaven, where the denizens of this overhyped medium apparently believe they live and work, and is worthy of comment rather than just another sigh. These are the people who bring us interminable – and frequently wrong – tales of the desperate straits of ‘lil Aussie convicts in dreadful places like Indonesia.
It is a fearsome world of huge competition to see who can produce the most ennui per edition. It is enlivened, in the Odd Zone, by the fact that some of these regrettable publications are within the Rupert Empire and some are not.
Thus we read with interest this week a veritable pool of poison from Ros Reines – unknown personally to The Diary but notable for having once been married to a good friend from many years ago and another continent – in the Rupert Empire’s Sydney tabloid, the Daily Telegraph, about the overreaching demerits of Woman’s Day editor Fiona Connolly. It was Connolly and her mag – it’s jocularly known as Womb & Sty, from how the title sounds in the keep-your-mouth-shut-the-flies-are-coming Australian dialect – who recently brought us the fictionalised version of Schapelle Corby’s impending life-threatening move to a prison facility in East Java. (She isn’t moving.)
Who cares? Well, no one really. Corporately inspired spats between scribblers for rival media empires are tedious. But Reines, a Rupert princess, is no stranger to the eggbeater, either. Connolly, who not at all by coincidence crossed the Rubicon (well, the Rupert) some time ago, might be queen of the trash magazines. But Murdoch tabloids are haemorrhoidal.
Hector's Blog appears weekly, as The Diary, in The Bali Times, Bali's leading English-language print and online newspaper. The Bali Times is at www.thebalitimes.com. The print edition, out Fridays, can be obtained worldwide through NewspaperDirect.