Local News

20 volcanoes across Indonesia currently showing above normal activity

The Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center (PVMBG) has noted that there are 20 volcanoes with above normal levels of activity across the country. “One of them has the status of awas [danger], two are on siaga [watch] and the remaining 17 mountains are on waspada [caution]. The awas is Mount Sinabung [North Sumatra], and the siaga are Mount Agung [Bali] and Mount Soputan [North Sulawesi],” said Kristianto, PVMBG’s head of the western region volcanic mitigation subsector, as quoted by Tempo. Kristianto said a number of volcanoes were popular tourist destinations during the Christmas and New Year holiday   period. The PVMBG has coordinated with the respective tourist area managers, he added. “For Mount Tangkuba Perahu [West Java], Dieng [Central Java], Papandayan [West Java], Gede [West Java] and Bromo [East Java], we have given the direction to remain cautious and coordinate with us at the PVMBG or with the Volcano Observation Post, which is on stand-by to provide information,” Kristianto said.

He also cautioned that volcanoes could erupt with little or no warning. “It’s not that there are no signs, but they are short, and not obvious,” he said. A number of volcanoes have such characteristics, including Mount Tangkubanparahu and Mount Papandayan. “Mount Tangkubanparahu in 2013, for example, issued several phreatic eruptions that were not preceded by obvious signs,” he said. Kristianto said the phreatic eruptions produced a burst of material that fell around the crater of Mount Tangkubanparahu. “It is imaginable that if it happened during daytime, it could cause a panic, and maybe someone could get hit. In general, the material thrown out by phreatic eruptions is not hot, but it’s the aspect of panic that could actually cause new problems. This is what needs to be watched out for,” he said.

He added that the PVMBG had already established intensive communication to anticipate such events, especially during this holiday season. “Communication between our managers and us from the PVMBG, as well as officials in the Volcano Observation Post, has been intensified. Especially at Tangkuban Perahu, we have arranged for information to be disseminated,” he said. [The Jakarta Post December 22, 2018]


Travel vlogger poses on a trash-filled Bali beach

An aerial image of a girl lying amidst piles of rubbish on Batu Bolong Beach has gone viral after influencer Jordan Simons posted it to his instagram account, @thelifeofjord, yesterday. Single-use water cups, plastic bottles, discarded flip flops, instant food packets and straws are among the washed-up items surrounding the swimsuit-clad model, Simons’ girlfriend Olivia Dejeu, who is a fashion and travel vlogger. Captioned “Just another day in paradise,” the photo has garnered more than 22,000 likes and stirred up a whole lot of controversy. While most comments expressed shame”So embarrassed to see it ”said @amerzadd-others claimed that the sea of trash is an annual phenomenon that occurs during rainy season. Several netizens even suggested that Simons had planted the rubbish before the shoot. “Did you just take photos (after picking up) a lot plastic around there?” commented @putripurple8.

Sadly, Bali’s plastic waste predicament is not a new narrative. Back in 2012, pro surfer Kelly Slater famously tweeted, ”If Bali doesn’t #Do something serious about this pollution it’ll be impossible to surf here in a few years. Worst I’ve ever seen”. Earlier this year, diver Rich Horner’s underwater footage of the Manta Point dive site in Nusa Penida captured more yellowing poly bags than marine life. The government even declared an official ‘garbage emergency’ on several beaches in Kuta, Jimbaran and  Seminyak at this time last year.

According to a report published on Statista, Indonesia is the world’s second biggest contributor to marine debris after China, with an estimated 1.29 million metric tons of its plastic waste ending up in the oceans annually. [Coconuts Bali December 18, 2018]


Brisbane man could face death penalty in Bali over drugs

An Australian man could face the death penalty in Indonesia after being indicted for cocaine possession by a Bali court. Brendon Luke Johnsson, 43, from Brisbane, and his partner Remi Purwanti, 43, an Indonesian national, have been indicted on two counts and face two possible charges by Indonesian authorities. Despite the possibility that Johnsson could face the most severe of consequences – the death penalty – if found guilty, it is unlikely that a judge would impose such a harsh sanction on the Australian man for the relatively small amount of drugs in his possession. Indonesian authorities executed Bali Nine ringleaders Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan in 2015 for their part in that drug smuggling plot, but the other seven members were ultimately handed prison sentences ranging from 20 years to life in prison for attempting to smuggle more than eight kilograms of heroin to Australia. Prosecutor Yuli Peladiyanti claimed in a court appearance on Wednesday that the couple had 11.6 grams of cocaine in their possession, in 13 plastic clips, when they were arrested back in August.

Yuli said that police had investigated the pair after another woman, Bena Silvia Magusta, had been arrested on August 4th by Bali police for possession of four clips of cocaine and claimed she had bought the drugs from the couple. Police travelled to the home Johnsson and Remi shared and knocked on the door. When no one answered they shut off the electricity, which prompted Remi to open the front door. “Remi was then asked if she ever handed over cocaine to Bena which Remi said yes, she did. Police then asked who she gets it from, to which Remi said she gets it from defendant Brendon who at the time was sleeping in the bedroom,” the prosecutor said. “After they turned the electricity back on, police searched their bodies and found nothing. They continued searching the home and found on the floor of the room a helmet box containing a blue bag with 13 plastic clips of powder suspected of cocaine, empty plastic clips, 2 plastic spoons and an electronic scale.” “When asked by the police the defendants admitted that it belonged to them without a permit from the authorities. They then were brought to police station along with the evidence.”

The prosecutor alleged Johnsson had bought the cocaine from a man name Made in Legian street – near the Ground Zero memorial for the 2002 Bali bombings – for 40 million Rupiah (about $3850) and had then separated it into 20 packages. The primary indictment is under article 114-2 of Indonesia’s strict drugs laws, which states that the defendants “do not own a license from the authorities to offer for sale, to sell, to buy, to receive, to be a mediator in the sale, exchange or hand over of category one narcotics [of the] cocaine-type non-plants of more than five grams”. If the pair are eventually charged under this article and then found guilty the maximum penalty is death, while the minimum penalty is six years in prison. Alternatively, the pair have also been indicted under article 112-2 of Indonesia’s drug laws. This article states the defendants, “without a license from the authorities to keep or possess or provide category one narcotics [of the] non-plant cocaine-type of more than five grams”. If the pair are instead charged under this secondary article, they face a maximum of 20 years in prison and a minimum of five years.

A decision on which article they will be charged under will be made later in the trial. Johnsson is believed to have been living in Bali for four years and is described as a design specialist. Outside court, his lawyer Edward Pangkahila said the Australian “was shocked when he found out that he faced the death penalty”. “He said ‘my life is in your hands’, please help me. We will do our best, we hope and pray, but we will do our best to represent him. “The next scheduled court appearance is January 9, 2019.Johnsson made no comment in court and entered no plea, as is standard practice in           Indonesia, during the appearance. [Sydney Moring Herald December 19, 2018]


Brit held in Bali over ‘tiny’ amount of cannabis oil appeals for help as he could face death penalty

A British man who could face the death penalty in Indonesia if convicted following drug smuggling allegations has admitted he has been “very stupid”. Pip Holmes was among four men from Peru, China, Malaysia and Germany held in Bali after they were arrested in five separate operations by customs officials and police. The five were paraded at a news conference in Denpasar, the capital of the popular tourist destination, last week.

The father-of-two, from Cornwall, is accused of receiving almost 31kg of cannabis oil in the mail. He said he had been in Bali for two months before being arrested earlier this month. The 45-year-old claims he was caught with around three grams of medicinal THC oil, which he says he uses to treat arthritis. Holmes’ family launched a crowdfunding page to raise £85,000 (£67,000) to cover legal fees in a bid to keep him out of prison. They say he could face up to 15 years behind bars, but hope he might be kept at a rehabilitation centre instead before being deported to the UK. But he could be sentenced to death if convicted, police in Indonesia said.

The south east Asian country has strict drug laws and dozens of convicted smugglers are on death row. Its last executions were in July 2016 when an Indonesian and three foreigners were shot by a firing squad. British woman Lindsay Sandiford was sentenced to death in Bali in 2013 after being found guilty of attempting to smuggle £1.6 million worth of cocaine into the holiday island on May 19, 2012.

Holmes, who has been moved to a rehab centre, revealed through a message on the crowdfunding page that he feels “sick with fear”. He said: “For the last few days, each morning I have woken up in a terrible nightmare. “As it stands, I don’t know if I’m about to spend a few months  in rehabilitation or if I’m about to face 5 to 15 years in Kerobokan – one of the toughest prisons on Earth.” He added: “It all went terribly wrong when I was arrested for possession of a tiny amount of THC oil. Stupid much? Yes very very stupid. “Even though medicinal THC is something so widely accepted elsewhere and it was such a small amount, I foolishly crossed the line in a very strict country. “The only way now to ensure my sentence is something I will survive is to invest in the right legal representation and rehabilitation.” [Huffpost December 18, 2018]


Australian tourist caught at Brisbane airport with live Bali squirrels

A pair of live squirrels from Bali was seized by Australian Biosecurity and Border Force (ABF) at Brisbane Airport earlier this month. The animals were allegedly sneaked in by a holiday-maker who had just returned home from Bali, reports Kompas. Following a tip-off from Border Watch, airport officers searched the man’s suitcase to uncover the two creatures. While the man’s motive is still ambiguous, the Australian Department of Agriculture’s stance is crystal clear. “The fact that this passenger would deliberately violate the provisions of our biosecurity and put our country at risk is truly unbelievable,” said Nico Padovan, Head of Biosecurity Operations at Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, as quoted in an article by Tempo.

Padovan stated the spread of rabies, a deadly disease already prevalent in Bali, as one of the possible disastrous outcomes of animal smuggling. Backing up his colleague’s statement, Terry Price, ABF’s Regional Commander in Queensland, commented via the ABF website, “Wildlife smuggling is not only illegal but also very cruel and inhumane, with the animals often being smuggled for long periods of time without food and in limited space. “Australia’s maximum penalty for individual wildlife smugglers is a sentence of ten years in prison and a fine of up to AUD210,000 (US$151,061). The two poor squirrels were euthanized for biosecurity reasons while the Australian resident may face criminal charges. [Coconuts Bali December 14, 2018]