July 5, 2017

The Obamas holiday in Bali

Barack and Michelle Obama, alongside their daughters Sasha and Malia, were seen paddling down the Ayung River, which is a popular spot for tourists on the Indonesian Island. The former president looked typically relaxed and stylish, even with his bulky helmet and life-jacket. Malia and Sasha – who recently celebrated her sweet 16 – seemed to enjoy their Indonesian adventure as well. The Obamas flew into the popular tourist destination on Friday evening before heading straight for the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan, Ubud, where villas cost upwards of $2,500 a night.

On Friday the family took a walk through the lush, green Jatiluwih rice terrace, one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. They looked relaxed as Barack donned a blue polo shirt and Michelle kept it casual in a baseball cap and vest, with her jacket tied round her waist. Barack, who lived in Indonesia in the 1960s, is later scheduled to travel to the island of Java to speak at the 4th Indonesian                     Diaspora Congress in Jakarta, where he spent his childhood after his mother Ann Dunham married second husband Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian man.

The family arrived at the airport via Guam on Friday evening, with Ngurah Rai Military Air Base commander Col. I Wayan Superman enforcing security measures along with scores of soldiers and police officers. Barack andMichelle are also joined by Malia, who is on her gap year before she starts college at Harvard in the fall, and Sasha, who recently celebrated her 16th birthday and wrapped up the school year at Sidwell Friends.

Both Barack and Michelle kept it casual in jeans as they were greeted on the tarmac by Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika before the family’s motorcade headed towards Ubud. The Obamas then traveled to the Four Seasons, where freestanding villas come with a private pool and a spacious sun terrace overlooking the lush rice fields surrounding the Ayung River. He’s scheduled to visit Yogyakarta, a city known for its cultural heritage where Obama’s mother did anthropological research. He will then head to the capital of Jakarta to give a keynote speech at the Indonesian Diaspora Congress. Obama was born in Honolulu to a white American mother and a Kenyan father after they met as students at the University of Hawaii. They eventually moved to Indonesia for a few years in the late 1960s before Barack returned to Hawaii.

Many Indonesians felt a strong bond with Obama because of his exposure to Indonesia and its culture, even making him a two-metre (six-foot) bronze statue that was placed in his former school. The statue of ‘Little Barry’ – as Obama was known to his Indonesian school friends – depicts the boy Obama dressed in shorts and a T-shirt with a butterfly perched on his hand.  Indonesia’s foreign ministry said Obama’s visit to holiday in Indonesia came after several invitations from President Joko Widodo. [Daily Mail June 26, 2017]


Kerobokan escape: Two prisoners returned to Bali, Australian Shaun Davidson still on the run

Two prisoners who escaped from Kerobokan prison have been returned to Bali amid tight security. Bulgarian Dimitar Nikolove Ilieve and Indian Sayed Mohammed Said arrived at Bali’s international airport from Dili in East Timor late on Saturday, and will now be questioned by police who believe they were part of a syndicate. Two other prisoners, Australian Shaun Davidson and Malaysian Tee Kok King, remain on the run. “We will further investigate which syndicate helped them escape to another country,” Bali’s police chief Petrus Golose said while commending the work of East Timorese police. “After we have done interviews with these convicts, we are going to find out who else is involved in the escape.” The prisoners who have been returned will undergo health checks before they are questioned.

Iliev is serving a seven-year sentence for money laundering and Said 14 years for drug offences. Davidson, from Perth, had less than three months left of his one-year sentence for passport fraud. It is believed the four escaped the prison through a 50-by-70-centimetre hole found in a wall, which connected to a 15-metre-long water tunnel. Davidson has used social media to indicate he is in Amsterdam, but that has not been verified.

“We are still pursuing them,” Inspector Golose said of Davidson and the Malaysian man. “If they have managed to cross borders we can also work together with other countries.” The ABC’s Foreign Correspondent recently spent a week filming behind Kerobokan’s walls, revealing an overcrowded and deeply underfunded prison. On a normal day there are just eight guards on duty. Four in the watchtowers and four on the ground to guard around 1,300 male prisoners. “We have to admit that since the beginning of the escape, and how it happened, it’s because of the lack of supervision,” Inspector Golose acknowledged, saying the system needed evaluating. “Because it’s dangerous if convicts can escape from prison.” [ABC News June 25, 2017]


Bali police say a crime syndicate could be behind brazen Bali breakout

Australian Shaun Davidson’s escape from Bali’s Kerobokan prison was so brazen and well-organised a professionalcrime syndicate may have been involved, local police have said. The claim comes as two of the four Bali jail birds, who dug their way out of the notorious prison through thick mud, have arrived back in Indonesia after their escape was thwarted in East Timor’s capital of Dili. The two recaptured men were found near a port in East Timor’s capital, Dili, on Thursday. Police seized $US7,000 in cash in their hotel room.

Davidson, who was sentenced for immigration offences last year after using another man’s passport, had just two months and 15 days left to serve. He was going to be deported to Australia where he is facing a number of drug charges in Perth. The Perth man appears to be taunting police checking in on social media from multiple European cities despite the fact he may still be Indonesia. First it was Amsterdam, now Copenhagen. [News.Com.au June 25, 2017]


Bali bombing: Guantánamo inmate Hambali charged over 2002 attack

A US war court has charged an Indonesian detainee at Guantánamo Bay in connection with the    2002 bombing in Bali that marked Indonesia’s deadliest terror strike, according to court documents obtained by the Associated Press. The detainee known as Hambali also was charged in connection with an attack on the JW Marriott in Jakarta in 2003. According to rules of the US military commission, a military court will later decide whether a trial will be held.

Hambali was captured in Bangkok in 2003, in a joint operation by the CIA and Thai police. Last year a US government review board rejected the release of Hambali, saying he continued to be a “significant threat to the security of the United States”. Hambali, whose real name is Encep Nurjaman, appeared before the board in August by video link seeking his release after being held for 10 years at the base without charge.

The Pentagon described him in a profile released ahead of the hearing as a leader of a south-east Asia based extremist group known as Jemaah Islamiyah. Hambali also is alleged to have had links to al-Qaida. Hambali has been charged with murder and attempted murder in violation of the law of war; intentionally causing serious bodily injury; terrorism; attacking civilians; and related charges. [The Guardian June 24, 2017]


Effective October 1, 2017, only E-money accepted on Bali’s Mandara toll road

Bisnis Bali reports that the Indonesian banking sector has promised to fully support a national policy that will no longer accept cash payment from toll road users, effective October 1, 2017, leaving e-money cards as the only remaining option for vehicle operators.

The regional CEO of Bank Mandiri for Bali and Nusa Tenggara, R. Erwan Djoko Hermawan, said on Thursday, June 22, 2017, said his bank would support the policy in order to reduce waiting times at the entrance to toll roads. The bank has added 1,000 e-money cards with an additional 500 cards expected shortly.

Credit cards are not an option for paying toll fees given the relative low value of each trip, the need for card holderverification, and the additional need for a signature that would together defeat the goal of making use of the toll more efficient. An estimated 2-4% of Bali toll users currently pay with e-money cards. [www.balidiscovery.com June 25, 2017]


Bali Immigration calls on pecalang for help ‘supervising foreigners’

Immigration in Bali is calling on traditional Balinese security guards, pecalang, to help them “supervise foreigners” on the island. Head of Ngurah Rai Special Class I Immigration, Ari Budijanto said immigration will be working closely with traditional village leadership as well, to participate and play an active role in keeping foreigners under tabs. To optimize the monitoring of foreigners by desa adat, traditional villages, Budijanto conducted a socialization event in Jimbaran, which was something akin to a town hall meeting.

“This socialization was expected to increase the understanding of the community, especially pecalang and desa adat, about immigration tasks, so they can participate and play an active role in the supervision of foreigners,” Budijanto said, as quoted by state news agency, Antara Bali. Though Antara Bali’s coverage does not really go into what exactly immigration along with pecalang and desa adat will be looking for, as they “supervise foreigners,” it seems their focus will likely be visa violations. [Coconuts Bali June 13, 2017]


Angry North Kuta residents dispense harsh street justice to 12-year old thief

NusaBali reports that a 12-year-old boy, identified only with the initials FA, was caught in the act of stealing Rp. 213,000 from a local tire repair shop on Jalan Padang Luwih, Dalaung, North Bali on Wednesday, June 14, 2017, at around 10:00 pm. Angry local residents set upon the grade school student, stripped him down to only his underpants, and tied him to a roadside electrical pole.

A police patrol from North Kuta discovered the boy and brought him to the police station to keep him safe from the angry local residents. Police say the young teenager noticed the tire repair shop was quiet and decided to steal the money left in the tire shop by its owner, I Komang Agus Jaya Arimbawa (35). The boy was spotted leaving the tire shop by a neighbor who reported the incident to Arimbawa who detained the student. When interrogated, the thief admitted stealing the money that was found in his possession by the shop owner.

Upon hearing his confession, the boy was taken to the roadside by the local residents who stripped him and tied him to the utility pole. Motorists passing the location and recording the boy’s capture on their handphones caused traffic jams on the adjoining street.

The 12-year-old’s parents were called to the police station to take charge of their child. Meanwhile, police have condemned the actions of neighbors who took the law into their own hands in administering street justice to the grade-schooler. Police said the case is being handled under Indonesia’s child protection laws. [www.balidiscovery.com June 18, 2107]


5 Bali Police officers reported to internal affairs after shooting underage suspect

Five officers serving in the Criminal Investigation Unit of Bali Police have been reported to Bali Police’s Internal Affairs (Propam) for alleged unethical and unprofessional behavior while carrying out their duties. The parents of EGL, a 17-year-old mugging suspect, brought the case to Propam on Thursday a couple of months after their son was shot in the leg whilst under arrest, reports local paper Tribun Bali. In Indonesia, it’s not uncommon for police to shoot fleeing (or ‘uncooperative’) suspects in the leg.

‘But have the police no humanity, shooting a 17-year-old?’ argues  the suspect’s mother,  Kostafina Ludia Marantika.Marantika was accompanied by a representative from the LBH Woman Crisis Center, an NGO that fights for gender equality and the protection of rights of women and children in Bali. EGL was shot when trying to flee the crime scene. The shooting was in the Jimbaran area near his parents’ house on March 23, 2017, according to reports. However, local news reports have failed to mention how badly the suspect was injured as a result of the shot to the leg.

The misconduct report to Propam is questioning what kind of shooting procedure police have pertaining to minors and what falls in accordance with the juvenile justice system. EGL is currently facing trial in juvenile court over eight alleged muggings in Denpasar and Badung. Police have said that they shot EGL in the leg when he tried to evade arrest. [Coconuts Bali June 15, 2017]