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(10/9/2005) balidiscovery.com's editorial [Editorial: Bali is Not the Problem, Drugs Are] was picked up and reprinted by a number of overseas publications, featured as a lead-in article on Australia’s E-Travel Blackboard and re-broadcast by an Australian radio station. As you might expect, it also brought lots of letters, excerpts of which we share below.
• Nick Lawson, a travel agent from Australia wrote:
". . . . These nay Sayers put a wet blanket on people's holiday plans but are not seeming to convince anyone to stay home. I bet if any of these knockers were handed a free ticket then they'd go in an instant.. . . It's a bumper year for Bali which makes me happy as to boycott only punishes the innocent Balinese and not the guilty drug dealers where ever and who ever they may be. Happy Travels."
• R. Brampton wrote to raise what he sees as inconsistency on local sentencing practices :
"I congratulate the Indonesian Authorities on their work and hope the case is proved beyond doubt against any drug trafficker who gets caught. The one thing I can't understand is drug trafficking can bring the death sentence or life in prison but terrorist found guilty get a much more lenient sentence even when involving the death of so many (and) affect permanently countless others who lost family, friends or were injured and disfigured. Maybe that is where the inconsistency lies. . .I visit Bali often with my wife and bring what we can to help orphans and locals in way of clothing & toys the last thing these people need is a drug distribution centre operating out of Bali."
• Australian Tony Swanson took issue with our editorial and calls for a greater distinction to be drawn between Shapelle Corby's case and that of the "Bali 9" :
"I generally enjoy your weekly newsletter, but today I found it very unfortunate that you draw a parallel between Ms Corby and the 'Bali 9.' That there would be anything like the level of support for the heroin 9 is an absurd proposition. The possibility of Ms Corby's innocence seems very real to many people, and this is a HUGE factor in the extent of support for her."
• Sharon Camilleri of Australia wrote in :
"I have to agree with you - Bali is definitely not the problem, it is the drugs. . .While in Bali my friend and I got offered drugs but of course the answer was always 'no thank you' and it is not just Bali (this) happens in, it (also) happens here in Australia ...I also believe that no matter what country you visit you must have respect for their laws. I am hoping to return to Bali as I had a wonderful time while I was there I only hope that people do not continue to try and take drugs in and out of you beautiful country. I am hoping and praying for Schapelle and that your judges see that she is innocent and let her come home."
• Philip Hilton wrote from Australia to say :
"Most Australians believe Corby is the innocent victim of Australian airport drug smugglers. They also consider the Bali 9 to be guilty. So I don't think you need to be too concerned about the Bali 9's conviction having a serious affect on Australian tourist numbers. Most Australians know your Police and ours work well together these days, and are learning to trust your Justice system. I have just booked for my 11th holiday in Bali and hope to continue visiting in the future."
• Trevor Harrington, also writing from Australia, thinks the airline that flew Ms. Corby to Australia has missed its fair share of the criticism in the current case:
"As an Australian, I'm embarrassed by my countrymen who expect an Australian to be given preferred treatment simply because they are Australian. This applies just as much to identification of tsunami bodies as it does to the Indonesian legal system. Australians should ask how the situations initiated, rather than demand exemption in return for aid and assistance of tsunami victims. In the case of Shapelle Corby, I haven't heard a single complaint against the airline that had responsibility for the baggage and yet failed to cooperate in the early stages when a proper defense could have been secured."
• Fiona wrote to insist she won't come back to Bali if Shapelle Corby is found guilty by the Indonesian courts :
"I agree that drugs are a major problem and have no sympathy for the 9, only their families. What they did was stupid and greedy, but Shapelle Corby is a different matter. I feel as do so many Australians that she is innocent. I don't think those drugs were ever meant to leave Australia. I have been to Bali 15 times and love everything about it but I will definitely not go back if she is found guilty as I am so convinced that she had nothing to do with those drugs. I went back to Bali 6 weeks after the bomb with no hesitation, but I just would not feel the same about Bali anymore if this poor girl is not listened to."
• Jessica Pinkerton wrote regarding the hypocrisy in Bali's high profile street dealing in drugs when seen against the background of the current cases before the Indonesian Courts:
"I agree with a lot of what you said but I cannot agree with the way the Indonesian justice system works....guilty until proven innocent. When there is reasonable doubt, surely that must count for something. . .But when there is so much doubt surrounding the marijuana in Shapelle Corby's body board bag and there is not concrete evidence, I just don't see how you can demand life in prison. I think that is a bit hypocritical when you walk around in Bali and almost every 4th person offers you drugs. I am a yearly visitor to Bali and will not sign the petition to boycott travel, but I do think that Shapelle Corby deserves a fair trial."
• Richard also writes from Australia to make a similar point :
"It is about time the local constabulary did something about all the drug sellers on the streets. On a recent trip I would barely walk 50 meters before I was offered anything in the drug line - and the sellers were quite blatant about what they were doing. Another point of dismay was the increasing offer to sell you pornography. So, who do I write to air these grievances?"
• Also from Australia, Khatijah said :
" . . . I think that if you break the laws of the land you should be tried by the law of that land. But can you please tell me what a tourist should do when they are walking down the streets of Bali and having drug pushers trying to sell every kind of drug imaginable to them? Why aren't the drug pushers shot! They, too, are the scum of the earth and should be punished.......are they let off because it is the 'silly tourist' that buys the drugs that should be shot?"
• Graham Hornel, a reader in Perth, wrote to say:
"Congratulations on a much-needed presentation of the rest of the facts, plus some realistic commentary on what has unfolded as a sad and sorry matter - one that has the potential to seriously damage both Australia-Indonesia relations and certainly Bali's tourism arrivals from Australia. . . .Drugs are indeed the problem and until law enforcement authorities in both countries combine to work back from the end user through the chain to the supplier, this situation will happen again. . . .Crack down very hard on those who openly sell death on the streets of Kuta and on those stupid enough to buy and then to use drugs in Bali and that will be positive progress. . . .No-one involved should be spared prosecution for involvement in any aspect of the drugs industry, be they Australian or Balinese, Policemen or Tourists."