Local News

Bali bombings: Indonesia reviews Abu Bakar Bashir’s release after Morrison’s request

Indonesia’s security minister says the decision to release alleged Bali bombing mastermind Abu Bakar Bashir is being reviewed, hours after Scott Morrison urged president Joko Widodo to show respect for Australia. The minister, Wiranto, told a hastily called news conference on Monday night that the president had asked him to coordinate a review of all aspects of the planned release. Bashir had previously been considered ineligible for parole  because of his refusal to renounce radical beliefs. His family had requested his release since 2017 because of his age and deteriorating health.

“On the basis of humanitarian considerations, the president is very understanding of the family’s request,” Wiranto said. “However, it still needs to be considered by other aspects.” Bashir, 81, is considered the spiritual leader of Islamist group Jemaah Islamiah, which was implicated in the 2002 Bali bombings. The radical Muslim cleric was convicted of terrorism charges in 2010 over links to militant training camps in Aceh province and jailed for 15 years. But Widodo said on Friday Bashir would be granted early release from jail on humanitarian grounds.

Morrison and other members of the Australian government have been in direct contact with their Indonesian counterparts over Bashir’s impending release. “Australians died horrifically on that night, and I think Australians everywhere would be expecting that this matter was treated with the utmost seriousness by our government, which it is,” the prime minister told reporters on Monday. “But also that the Indonesian government would show great respect for Australia in how they manage this issue.”

Eighty-eight of the more than 200 people killed in the 2002 bombings of Bali nightclubs were Australians, and Canberra has previously urged against leniency for Bashir. “We have been consistent always – governments of both persuasions, over a long period of time – about our concerns about Abu Bakar Bashir,” Morrison said. “He should serve what the Indonesian justice system has delivered to him as his sentence.” Morrison said it was not uncommon for prisoners who have served two-thirds of their Indonesian prison sentences to get parole. “But we have been very clear about the need to ensure that as part of our joint counter-terrorism efforts – we have an excellent counter-terrorism partnership with Indonesia – that Abu Bakar Bashir would not be in any position or in any way able to influence or incite anything,” he said. “Let’s not forget that the Bali bombing led to the deaths of Indonesians as well.” [ Australian Associated Press January 22, 2019]


Frenchman climbed out of Indonesian jail using a sarong

Police in Indonesia have launched a manhunt for a French       national accused of drug trafficking, after he broke out of his second-floor cell by sawing through the window bars and rappelling to freedom with a sarong. Felix Dorfin’s daring escape happened on Sunday evening at a detention centre on Lombok island, where the 35-year-old was awaiting trial in a possible death penalty case. “He escaped through the window on the second floor in the detention centre and, using a sarong and curtains which were tied together, he climbed down and then escaped,” said West Nusa Tenggara police spokesman I Komang Suartana. Dorfin is believed to still be in Lombok. Police have deployed officers to scour the island to search for him, said Suartana.

The Frenchman was arrested in September for allegedly carrying a false-bottomed suitcase filled with 4kg of drugs – including cocaine, ecstasy and amphetamines – at the airport on the holiday island. Indonesia has some of the world’s strictest drug laws – including death penalty sentences for some traffickers. Indonesia has executed several foreign drug smugglers in the past, including Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who were ringleaders of the notorious Bali Nine heroin smuggling gang and faced the firing squad in 2015. Serge Atlaoui, a convicted French drug smuggler, has been on death row since 2007.

Jailbreaks are also common in Indonesia, where inmates are often held in unsanitary conditions at overcrowded and poorly guarded prisons. In 2017, four foreign inmates tunneled their way out of a Bali prison. Three of the fugitives were captured a few days later, while the fourth – an Australian – is still on the run. It was not clear whether prosecutors would seek Dorfin’s execution if he was convicted. [South China Morning Post January 21, 2019]


Here’s what it’s like inside Starbucks’ stunning new ‘coffee sanctuary’ in Bali – its largest store in SEA

Starbucks opened the Starbucks Dewata Coffee Sanctuary – its largest Southeast Asian store – in Bali on Jan 12. Bali is known as being a surfer’s paradise, and now, thanks to Starbucks, it is also a destination of interest for coffee-lovers in Southeast Asia. Last Saturday (Jan 12), the largest coffee chain in the world opened its biggest Southeast Asian store on the island of the gods. Starbucks Dewata Coffee Sanctuary takes up a whopping 20,000 sq ft of space, the company said in a statement.  Starbucks has been operating in Indonesia for 16 years, in       partnership with licensee PT Sari Coffee Indonesia.

The coffee chain with 28,000 stores worldwide said in its statement that the new store in Seminyak pays tribute to the coffee culture in Indonesia – the fourth largest Arabica coffee growing region in the world. Since 1971, Sumatra coffee has been a staple offering at Starbucks Indonesia, it added. “The Coffee Sanctuary marks the tenth Starbucks Reserve Bar store in Indonesia, one of 185 stores around the world, with the majority in Asia,” said Kevin Johnson, CEO of Starbucks Coffee Company.

The design of the Dewata Coffee Sanctuary is thought through down to the details. It bears an original logo – a lotus flower – that represents Balinese philosophy, and is inspired by Bali’s Double Ikat weaving technique. What are Bali beaches without their iconic, crystal blue waves? The store’s facade – created using locally-made red bricks in the shape of half circles – was designed to mirror those. Apparently, if you’re driving past, it will appear as though the exterior is moving.

The interior of the facility was designed in partnership with local craftspeople and artists, and inspired by traditional Balinese houses. There is an Arabica coffee tree farm spanning 1,000 sq ft (the size of a typical Indonesian farm, according to Starbucks) on the premise that visitors can explore. Those who opt to take a guided tour can experience what it’s like to de-pulp and wash coffee beans during the harvest season in the region. They also get to wash, dry and rake green coffee beans.

Bound to catch the eye of a first-time visitor is a 9.1m-tall  (30-foot), hand-carved wooden mural that depicts the history of coffee in Indonesia, created to pay tribute to local farmers. On the first floor is the Starbucks Reserve bar which offers customers a taste of its small-batch coffees. The Starbucks Reserve Roasteries have been making waves globally, popping up in destinations such as New York, Seattle and Shanghai.

The space also features a 13-metre teak Starbucks core bar -inspired by Bali’s terraced rural landscapes – which offers Starbucks’ signature beverages. The bar features a wall inspired by flora from the region. Look closely and you’ll notice hand-carved, old-meets-new stone tiles that make up the floor and wall design in the Reserve Bar. Also located on the first floor is this interactive video wall set up to show how coffee is planted, processed, roasted, shipped and brewed.

On the second floor is the first coffee seedling nursery to be   located inside a Starbucks store. The greenhouse is surrounded by glass panes. Here, visitors can witness and help tend to the first stages of delicate plants. There is also a Balinese farmer present to explain more about coffee plant farming. Adjoined to the nursery is a tasting room which also boasts a wooden theme, and is brightly lit by natural light coming in from the full-length windows. Here, visitors can taste coffee that has not gone through a filter.

Many Starbucks fans would be pleased to know that there are some unique drinks offered at the sanctuary – and they look equally as Insta-worthy as the place. According to the Dewata Bali’s menu on its website, the store is offering drinks such as Lavender Latte, House Affogato and Origin Flight. The Lavender Latte is a flowery, candy-like, milky concoction with a rich Reserve espresso, while Starbucks’ House Affogato is made up of two shots of Reserve espresso, Demerara syrup poured over vanilla ice cream, and a dash of cinnamon. The Origin Flight consists of three limited batches of Starbucks Reserve coffee brewed with the “Pour Over brewing method”.

There is also a wide variety of food items. Some of the more fascinating ones include Nutella Banana Panini and “so local favourites” – Milk Pie and Indonesian Fresh Salad. And of course, the Starbucks Barista also takes on a Bali twist here. Some Starbucks Baristas don traditional Balinese outfits. [Business Insider Malaysia January 15, 2019]


Bali police introduce horse patrols on Kuta Beach

Police patrolling Bali’s famous Kuta Beach are now using horses to enhance safety and law enforcement along a Bali coast popular with sunbathers and swimmers drawn to the area. The well-trained horses are able to maneuver through the crowds of sun and swim enthusiasts. Balitribune.co.id reports that the horse patrols are being undertaken by Unit Satwa Turangga Directorate of the Bali Police.

Patrols are normally conducted between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm each day using 3 horses and 4 uniformed officers under the command of Chief (Police) Brigadier Surarman. The head of the Satwa Turangga Directorate, Inspector I Wayan Nuaba, explained the purpose to the horse patrols is to minimalize criminal activity targeted at tourists relaxing on the beach by means of high visibility policing. One female Australian tourist, complimented the new horse patrols saying she enjoyed seeing the handsome policemen riding on the beach on well-cared for horses. [Bali Update January 22, 2019]


Bali authorities plan to impose $10 tax on foreign tourists

The authorities of Indonesia’s island Bali intend to impose tax of $10 on foreign tourists, local media reported Saturday. According to the Straits Times newspaper, the relevant bill was submitted for consideration to the local parliament in December. The revenue from the tourist tax will be used to address environmental problems of the island and preserve the Balinese cultural heritage.

The newspaper reported that the provincial authorities were discussing possible ways to collect the tax. The tourists might be required to pay it at the airport upon arrival in Bali or the tax could be included in airline ticket price, the newspaper said. The Straits Times newspaper also reported that Bali welcomed 5.7 million foreign tourists mainly from China and Australia in 2017. In 2018, the number of foreign tourists exceeded six million. [UrduPoint News / Sputnik January 19, 2019]


Bali’s Mount Agung spews streams of incandescent lava as far as a kilometer

Mount Agung’s activity has slowly increased over the past couple of weeks, with the latest rumbling, on Saturday, sending out lava a kilometer to the east of the volcano’s crater. According to a report by local-language media outlet Nusa Bali, the eruption occurred at 2:45am and lasted for a duration of two minutes and eight seconds. Though the mountain’s peak could not be observed by the naked eye due to 700 meter-high plumes of smoke, the glowing lava spurt was captured on CCTV. Thankfully, despite the lava flows,   Saturday’s flare-up didn’t cause any bushfires on Agung’s slopes, due to the rainy weather.

I Dewa Made Mertha Yasa, the head of the volcano monitoring post in the Rendang area to the west of Agung, said that the outburst did not mean that we should expect a bigger eruption any time soon. “Eruptions will still occur in the future, but on a small scale. There are no signs of a larger eruption, because the intensity of the earthquake was so small,” he commented to the source. Agung’s alert level remains at Level 3 (standby) and the Center of Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation (PVMG) continues to warn climbers, tourists and locals against entering the hazard zone, which stretches a four-kilometer radius around Agung’s crater. [Coconuts Bali January 21, 2019]