September 27, 2017

Australia pays tribute to Perth artist and humanitarian John Fawcett

Tributes are pouring in from Australia and overseas for a former Perth artist who gave the gift of sight to tens of thousands of Balinese. Celebrated humanitarian John Fawcett died on Saturday aged 85 after a stroke at a Perth hospital. He was a ceramicist and deputy director at Perth Technical College before spinal surgery in 1981 changed his life. A near-death experience on the operating table left him with medical problems and possible brain damage. He returned to a favourite place, Bali, two years after to recuperate and decided to stay.

Moved by the poverty and lack of medical expertise on the island, Mr Fawcett set about giving back to the Balinese people. His Cleft Lip and Palate Program was set up in 1989 and the Mobile Eye Clinic for Cataract Surgery two years later. In 2000 the John Fawcett Foundation brought his projects together. Mr Fawcett’s remarkable life was the subject of a biography titled Water From the Moon, written by Scott Bevan in 1991. His work in Bali was portrayed in the 2008 documentary, God Made Them Blind.

The John Fawcett Foundation announced his death yesterday. “What John achieved through his foundation has positively affected the lives of well over a million people,” the foundation said. “Widely known in Bali as “Dr John”, his assistance to those in less fortunate circumstances has earned him the love and respect of the Balinese population and also those in government circles. “With the programs moving offshore from Bali to other islands, the respect for John’s name and that of his foundation have expanded throughout Indonesia.” A cremation service will be held at Karrakata Cemetery from 2.30pm on Friday. Mr Fawcett’s ashes will then be flown to Bali for another ceremony. [The West Australian September 13, 2017]


Decompression sickness likely caused Singapore doctor’s death in Bali dive

 She was an experienced diver who loved the outdoors and travelled abroad several times a year to pursue her passion of getting a closer look at marine life. But last Wednesday, Dr Wong Yu Yi, 48, died while diving in Bali. An autopsy found that she had suffered decompression sickness and it was the likely cause of death, said her husband, Dr Peng Yeong Pin. The condition, which can be fatal, is caused when pressure differences lead to gas bubbles forming in the blood.

Dr Peng, 48, a hand surgeon, spoke to The Sunday Times at his wife’s wake yesterday. He said he flew to Indonesia with his father on the day of the accident, after his wife’s friend called him. Dr Wong was in Bali with her friends, Ms Yap Shu Mei, 49, and Ms Rini Astuti Wulandari, 27,  according to a Bali Post report.

She was diving with a group at an area called Blue Lagoon, in the eastern port town of Padangbai. At about 9.10am, they were diving at a depth of about 20m, when Dr Wong signaled for help. The dive leader led her to the water’s surface but she was unconscious by then. She was rushed to hospital and declared dead on arrival. “They tried cardiopulmonary resuscitation for quite a long time, but could not bring her back,” said Dr Peng, who flew back to Singapore on Friday. “She’s an experienced diver, with about a hundred dives in her log,” he said. He added that his wife went to Raja Ampat in Indonesia and the Red Sea in Egypt to dive, and recently came back from another trip to the Philippines in June. “This was her passion.” He said she was hoping to see sunfish in Bali this time.

About 100 friends and relatives turned up to pay their respects at her wake yesterday. She leaves her husband and three children aged 11 to 19. Her body will be cremated tomorrow. Photo- Dr Wong Yu Yi (right) [The Straits Times September 10,2017]


Man held over murder of Japanese couple in Bali

 Indonesian police have arrested a man over the murder of an elderly Japanese couple whose bodies were found burned beyond recognition in Bali. The scorched corpses of Hiroko Matsuba, 73, and Nurio Matsuba, 76, were discovered Sept. 4 by their Indonesian foster son in Jimbaran, a resort area in the southern part of the island.

Police detained a 25-year-old Balinese man identified as Putu Astawa early Monday. Investigators, who are not looking for any other suspects, believe the slayings were a robbery gone wrong. “His motive in committing the murder is his debt. Putu owed 10 million rupiah ($750). He took a shortcut which was theft,” Bali police spokesman Hengky Widjaja said at a news conference. The police allege he tied up and gagged Hiroko Matsuba, who was killed first, before killing her husband. He allegedly used a knife he found at the front door. Later in the evening, Astawa returned to the house and set the bodies alight with gasoline and a lighter, the police alleged.

Widjaja said Astawa entered the Matsubas’ home intending to steal money but “because the victims fought back, he murdered them.” The couple had lived in Bali for seven years, and Nurio Matsuba was a broker at a tuna export company, according to the police. Bali, a pocket of Hinduism in Muslim-majority Indonesia, is a popular tourist destination known for its tropical climate and palm-fringed beaches. Petty crime is common there, although grisly murders are rare. [The Japan Times September 18, 2017]


Indonesia raises Bali volcano alert level for second time

Indonesian officials have more than doubled the size of a no go zone around the Mount Agung volcano on the tourist island of Bali and raised its alert level for the second time in less than a week. The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said Monday that people should stay 6 kilometers (3.8 miles) from the crater, and up to 7.5 kilometers (4.7 miles) away to the north, southeast and south-southwest. It said the exclusion zone must be empty of all community activities and residents should be prepared to evacuate at short notice.

The agency said there has been a continuing increase in seismic activity as well as visual observations of 50-meter (165-foot) -high blasts from the crater. Agung last erupted in 1963, killing 1,100 people and and hurling ash as high as 10 kilometers (16 miles). The surrounding Karangasem district, an area of about 840 square kilometers (324 square miles), has a population of 408,000. The mountain is about 72 kilometers (45 miles) to the northeast of the tourist hotspot of Kuta. [AP September 18, 2017]


‘Monkey selfie’ case

A photographer whose camera was used by a monkey to take a selfie has won a two-year legal battle against an animal rights group about copyright over the image. Naruto, a rare crested macaque monkey who lives in the Tangkoko Reserve on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, picked up David Slater’s camera and snapped the now-famous photo in 2011. Peta sued “on behalf” of the monkey in 2015, seeking financial control of the photographs for the benefit of Naruto. Judges in the US deemed the monkey was ineligible to hold copyright over the image.

Lawyers for Mr Slater argued his company, Wildlife Personalities Ltd, owns worldwide commercial rights to the photos, including the selfie of the monkey’s toothy grin. Under a compromise, Mr Slater agreed to donate 25 per cent of any future revenue from the images to charities dedicated to protecting crested macaques in Indonesia.

Lawyers representing Peta and Mr Slater asked the US Court of Appeals to dismiss the case and throw out a lower-court decision that said animals cannot own copyrights. “Peta and David Slater agree that this case raises important, cutting-edge issues about expanding legal rights for non-human animals, a goal that they both support, and they will continue their respective work to achieve this goal,” Mr Slater and Peta said in a joint statement. US District Judge William Orrick said in a ruling in favour of Mr Slater last year that “while Congress and the President can extend the protection of law to animals as well as humans, there is no indication that they did so in the Copyright Act”. [Independent September 12, 2017]


“Wonderful Indonesia” wins best video In UNWTO competition

“Wonderful Indonesia” has won Best Tourism Promotion Video in a competition held by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), beating 63 other videos from other UNWTO member nations. The video was also awarded the People’s Choice Award. As stated in a press release published in the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s official website on Saturday, Sept. 16, “Wonderful Indonesia” has been voted as the best tourism promotion video in the region of East and Pacific Asia.

The video showcases beautiful views from various parts of Indonesia, such as Yogyakarta, Bali, Jakarta, Lombok, Toraja, Raja Ampat, and Wakatobi, accompanied with the song “What a Wonderful World” sung by Louis Armstrong in the background. Both awards were received by Tourism Minister Arief Yahya as the head delegate for Indonesia. The announcement and  presentation of the UNWTO video competition was held in a UNWTO meeting in Chengdu, China, on 11-16 September. [Indonesia Expat September 18, 2017]


Balinese Painting Maestro Nyoman Gunarsa Passes Away

Balinese painting maestro Dr (HC) I Nyoman Gunarsa has passed away at the age of 73 in intensive care at the wing room of Sanglah General Hospital in Denpasar, Bali, on Sunday afternoon. Made Wija, an employee at the Nyoman Gunarsa Museum of Contemporary Art, said the painter had undergone intensive treatment since three days ago due to heart disease. According to him, Nyoman Gunarsa passed away at 11.30. The painter is now placed at funeral home on Jalan Raya Banda Number 1-Takmung, Angkan, Klungkung regency, or about 45 km east of Denpasar.

The deceased left a wife named Indrawati Gunarsa, three children, and seven grandchildren. Made Wija explained that the family is still coordinating with the local cleric to determine duasa or good day to perform pengabenan or cremation for the former lecturer of Institut Seni Indonesia (ISI) Yogyakarta.

The maestro who successfully held the exhibitions at the national and international level, had initially looked healthy, including on August 4, 2017 when he welcomed the arrival of President Joko Widodo and First Lady Iriana Joko Widodo to visit the Nyoman Gunarsa Museum of Indonesian Contemporary Art in the District of Klungkung, Bali. Nyoman Gunarsa, whose works were often inspired by Balinese folklore and the Hindu Dharma legend, built the museum around 1990 on a vast  expanse of land with hundreds of collections of paintings, kris daggers, and other objects of art and history.

When visiting the Gunarsa Museum, President Jokowi had mentioned he once invited Nyoman Gunarsa and his mother to the Presidential Palace on April 3, 2017. “He showed me a picture of a great painting titled “Jokowi Drinking Jamu.”To my surprise, Mr. Nyoman knew that the President likes to drink jamu herbs, and he also asked me to see the museum,” Made Wija said, as quoted by Antara. [Netral News September 10,2017]


Bird flu confirmed in death of girl on Nusa Penida reports that a confirmed case of Bird Flu (H5N1) has claimed a victim in Bali in Banjar Minggir in the Village of Batununggul on Nusa Penida. Officials from the Sanglah General Hospital and the Department of Health are refusing to identify the female victim infected with the virus. The victim died in the Nusa Indah isolation section of Denpasar’s main hospital.

RadarBali also reports that a much-feared human-to-human transmission was suspected when one of the doctors treating the Bird Flu victim might be infected with the virus. Laboratory tests eventually confirmed that doctor was not infected with H5N1. [ September 18, 2017]


Cash for payment of toll fee in Bali not accepted after October 1, 2017

Effective October 1, 2017, PT Jasamarga Tol, the managers of the Mandara Toll Road in Bali, will only accept non-cash payment via e-cards. NusaBali reports the e-card, are available from the following banks and retail outlets: Bank Mandiri (E-Money), Brizzi (BRI), Topcsh (BNI), BPD Bali, Blink (BTN), FLAZZ (BCA) and Indomaretcard. The cards, once purchased, can be “topped up” by purchasing more stored value to be placed on the card.

Motorists entering the toll road after October 1st and unwilling to purchase a card at the toll booth will be refused access and escorted off the toll road by officials. PT Jasamarga Bali Tol estimates 52,000 motorcycles and other vehicles travel each day on the Mandara Bali toll. 55% of that number is comprised of four-wheel vehicles with the remaining 45% comprised of motorcycles.

In the past 19% of all vehicles used payment cards to pay for their passage, the rest choosing to pay in cash. Beginning October 1, 2017, the number paying electronically will become 100%.[ September 10, 2017]