June 21, 2017

Bali FC players celebrate their diverse religions

A symbolic gesture by three footballers from Indonesia’s Bali United FC is being hailed as a celebration of the diversity of their team and country. A photograph of Yabes Roni, who is Christian, along with his team-mates, Miftahul Hamdi, a Muslim, and Ngurah Nanak, a Hindu, in their respective religions’ prayer positions, has been liked and shared more than ten thousand times on the club’s Facebook page after photographer Miftahuddin Halim posted it on his Instagram page.

“Because different religious beliefs won’t stop us from achieving the same goals,” the caption under the photo says. Many social media users have described their display as an example of the country’s official motto, “different but one”, and said they take their hats off to the team. The gesture follows a period of heightened religious tensions in the mainly Muslim country, following charges of blasphemy against Jakarta’s former Christian mayor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who in May, was jailed for two years over the charges.

Ngurah Nanak told BBC Indonesia that the gesture from all three had been a spontaneous one after Roni scored a goal in a match against Borneo FC. Fifa forbids players from making political or religious statements on the pitch, but does encourage the recognition of acts promoting diversity or anti-discrimination. [BBC June 8, 2017]


Bali police investigating death of Australian tourist in apparent drowning

Police in Bali are investigating the death of an Australian man whose body was found in the pool of a villa in the tourist area of Canggu, north of Kuta. The body of 31-year-old Tyler Kennedy, from Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, was discovered by friends on Wednesday night.

Mr Kennedy’s friends said he was at the villa for a party and jumped in the pool about 8:30pm. They noticed his body floating in the water about 10 minutes later when they pulled him out and attempted CPR. Police said an investigation did not start until Friday because his death was not immediately reported. An ambulance and doctor were called but Mr Kennedy could not be revived. [ABC.net.au June 9, 2017]


Schapelle Corby’s parole papers rake in over $20k on eBay

The parole book of convicted drug smuggler and newly created social media star Schapelle Corby has sold to an anonymous eBay bidder for $20,100. Corby’s worn parole papers attracted 123 bids in an online auction supporting a children’s charity headed by Adam Whittington, the man at the centre of 60 Minutes’ Beirut child recovery. The auction began last Monday at a starting price of $0.99, and reached the winning bid in one week. All funds raised will go towards Project Rescue Children (PRC), a global child-rescue charity Mr Whittington launched in Australia following his release from a Lebanese jail. Mr Whittington described Corby’s donation as “amazing”.

“Being in her horrific position myself in the past, I know how personal this is … Thanks to Schapelle, PRC will be able to make a start in building our first ever PRC safe haven for children in Cambodia…” he posted on Instagram.  Mr Whittington previously told News Corp Australia that Corby became aware of the project through John McLeod, a PRC Director and the private security guard who arranged her Bali exit.  “Our sincere thanks to Schapelle Corby for entrusting us with something so personal which has now become the catalyst for new opportunities for children at risk,” a post on the charity’s Facebook page read.

PRC’s motto is to rescue kidnapped children from child prostitution and slavery. Reports have also emerged that Corby may appear on the UK version of Celebrity Big Brother, but her sister Mercedes has labelled the rumours a “load of crap”. Last month, Corby’s return to Australia from Indonesia sparked a media frenzy and her Instagram account has quickly garnered almost 200,000 followers. [9News.com.au June 12, 2017]


Bali nightclub Akasaka shut down by police

Akasaka nightclub in central Denpasar has been closed down until further notice, following a police raid on the club on Monday afternoon that found nearly Rp 10 billion worth of ecstasy pills on the premises. In the massive bust, 19,000 ecstasy pills were confiscated-an estimated value of Rp 9.5 billion, or about $7 million. Police say the drugs found came from a syndicate supplying drugs to Bali.

“These items were sent from Jakarta to Surabaya and Bali by private car,” said deputy director of the Bali Police Narcotics Unit, Superintendent Soedjarwoko. Four suspects have reportedly been arrested, identified by local media as WI, IS, NW, and DD. WI is understood to have been the club’s manager. Police believe the drugs would have been sold to customers at the club, as well as other buyers around the island. “It seems the drugs were for distribution around (Akasaka), as well as other areas in Bali,” Soedjarwoko said, as quoted by Detik.

A police line has apparently been set up, blocking entrance to the club, while in a notice posted to the entrance ofAkasaka, the club’s management apologized for the sudden closure. The notice, in Indonesian, reads: “Let it be announced that Akasaka Karaoke, Music Club & A Club, starting today, June 5, 2017, is not operating until further determined. Apologies for the current condition.” This isn’t the first time Akasaka has gotten into hot water over drugs. “With this case, it’s now three times that there have been drug cases in Akasaka. First it was 5,000 ecstasy pills, then 10,000 ecstasy pills found in 2016.” Despite the club’s repeat offender status, police say they do not have the authority to shut down the institution for good and will need the provincial government to act for more permanent action.

Akasaka, located in Simpang Enam on Jl. Teuku Umar, has been around since 1989. The four-story club has karaoke, a discotheque dubbed the A-Club, and restaurant facilities. Police in Bali have been on a real mission to clean up the island’s so-called ‘ailments.’ An operation running until June 12, 2017, called Pekat Agung Operation 2017, is targeting various nightlife-related crimes like prostitution, illegal alcohol, and drugs. The operation’s name even translates to ‘sickness of society.’ [Coconuts Bali June 5, 2017]


East Java woman arrested at Bali airport with nearly 10,000 ecstasy pills

Security was not fooled by a woman stopped at Bali’s airport last Thursday with nearly 10,000 pills in her hand luggage. East Java woman, Stefani Anindia Hadi, tried to say she was carrying medicine for headaches when officers in the airport’s domestic terminal pulled out the suspicious quantity of pills packed in to four large plastic bags from her carry-on. After some prodding, the 25-year-old, who had been flying in from Palembang, Sumatra, apparently confessed that the pills were actually ecstasy.

Head of the Bali division of the National Narcotics Agency (BNN), Brig. Gen. I Putu Gede Suastawa explained that Hadi was arrested after a tip from BNN South Sumatra, that there was a passenger on Garuda Indonesia flight GA 266 flying from Palembang to Denpasar with a huge quantity of drugs in hand. “After searching, the evidence was obtained from a carry-on bag. Based on calculations from there, there were 9,675 ecstasy pills,” Suastawa said on Friday, as quoted by Tribun Bali. Following Hadi’s arrest, BNN officers moved to track down the recipient of the smuggled drugs, eventually arresting Sukron Wardana, 27, at a hotel in Kuta. Both Hadi and Wardana are originally from Banyuwangi, East Java, Suastawa told reporters. After searching Wardana’s home in Kerobokan, officers did not find any narcotics and say they are still hunting the person who ordered Sukron to take the pills brought in by Hadi.

This was not Hadi’s first time playing the mule in a drug operation, says Suastawa. Last March, the woman was given Rp 40 million to carry drugs into Bali, which apparently went through without a hitch. But it only takes getting caught once for the blossoming career of a courier to get derailed. Police have not yet publicly announced if Hadi has been charged, but those caught trafficking class I narcotics in Indonesia, such as ecstasy, could get a life sentence in prison with a hefty fine-or more extreme, the death penalty. Hadi’s arrest comes after popular Denpasar nightclub Akasaka was raided earlier this month. Police found Rp 10 billion worth of ecstasy pills on the premises. [Coconuts Bali June 12, 2017]


Bali Arts Festival 2017 to be streamed live

Bali Arts Festival 2017 is collaborating with media company Bali Go Live to conduct live streaming throughout the festival slated for June 10 to July 8. “We are collaborating with Bali Go Live […] they’ll make the event go viral through live streaming that will be available on their website, as well as social media engagements on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and LinkedIn,” said Bali Tourism Agency head Anak Agung Yuniartha Putra.

Bali Go Live director Paulus Herry Arianto says interesting content will be presented during the live streaming. Moreover, he says Bali Go Live doesn’t just promote Bali but also encourages Balinese youths to be more proud of their own culture and philosophies. “Bali Go Live is a video channel that is connected to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms. Our mission is to become the digital encyclopedia for everything about Bali and strengthening Bali’s position as one of the best tourism destinations in the world,” said Paulus. [The Jakarta Post June 10, 2017]


Government mulls hotel price controls to control price war underway between Bali hotels

Kompas.com reports that the Bali Tourism Promotion Board (BPPD) and the Provincial Government are growing increasingly concerned with what is viewed as unhealthy price competition in the badly over-built tourist accommodation market. In a market in which three-starred hotels are charging rates less than Rp. 300,000 per night, the BPPD and the Provincial Administration are concerned that the elegance and quality of the Bali travel product are under threat.

The head of BPPD and chief of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI-Bali), Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardhana Sukawati (Coka Ace), said on Monday, June 5, 2107, he has been concerned about the continuing hotel price war and its impact on the economy over the past three years.

Because of this, Cok Ace has urged the Provincial Government of Bali to mediate the price war through standardization of pricing policies. In the past, he explained, efforts at standardization have been limited to granting star ratings based on the number of rooms and the overall quality of the hotel. To date, however, there have been no moves to standardize hotel pricing, leaving hotels free to pursue higher occupancies, frequently at the consequence of lower prices.

Meanwhile, Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika has issued a press announcement urging the creation of a legal basis for controlling the pricing policies of hotels in Bali, stipulating the minimum price that hotels of a specific star rating are allowed to sell their rooms. The Governor has invited the industry and the academic community to undertake a careful study to determine the most effective way to control pricing and sanctions to be applied when hotels are found to be ignoring government pricing policies. Statistics from the Central Statistic Bureau (BPS) in Bali calculates 281 starred hotels in Bali, 89 of which have 3-star ratings. [www.balidiscovery.com June 11, 2017]


US man gets nine years in prison for aiding Bali murder

A US judge on Friday sentenced a Chicago man to nine years in prison for his role in the 2014 murder of an American woman while she was vacationing on the Indonesian island of Bali. Robert Ryan Justin Bibbs, 26, pleaded guilty in December to advising his cousin Tommy Schaefer in the murder of Sheila von Wiese, the US Department of Justice said.

The 62-year-old was bludgeoned to death with a fruit bowl in her hotel room at the St. Regis Bali resort, and her body stuffed in a suitcase and left in the trunk of a taxi. Indonesian police arrested Schaefer and von Weise’s daughter Heather Mack, who was in a   relationship with him. The two are serving prison sentences in Indonesia. Bibbs – who authorities say believed the three would gain access to von Weise’s estate after her death – pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit the foreign murder of a US national.

In his plea agreement, he admitted that he advised Schaefer on various methods of murder and on how to get away with the crime, prosecutors said. “Repeatedly, the prospect of Von Wiese’s killing was broached and defendant elected to push the plot forward, rather than stop it,” Assistant US Attorney Bolling Haxall said in a sentencing memorandum.

Authorities discovered evidence that Bibbs and Schaefer engaged in several text message conversations about murdering von Weise. “Go sit on her face wit (sic) a pillow,” Bibbs allegedly wrote in one text message, according to authorities. Schaefer confessed to the murder, but claimed he was defending himself during an argument with von Wiese, who was unhappy that her daughter was pregnant. Schaefer, who was 21 at the time of the crime, is serving an 18-year prison sentence. Mack, who was 19, was sentenced to 10 years. [FTM News June 3, 2017]


German tourist dies on rural hike in North Bali

A German tourist, Florian Blohmeke (33), died while trekking along a riverbank in the North Bali on Thursday, June 1, 2017. Blohmeke, who was visiting the village of Kayuputih with a companion, Susame Meber (28), apparently slipped in the river and struck his head on a stone at approximately 4:00 pm.

Earlier in the day, the couple had checked into the Aditya Munduk Home Stay at Munduk. When the man slipped, Meber called for help, bringing several local men bathing in the river to lend assistance. As reported by NusaBali, the local men quickly removed the German from the river. Blohmeke apparently died instantly when he struck his head on the rock.

The man’s body was sent to the General Hospital in Buleleng for further disposition. Police are treating the death as an accident.  [www.balidiscovery.com June 4, 2017]