Schapelle Show: Respect Bali

Schapelle Corby is back in the news. This time it’s for getting out of prison instead of going in. And it must be a relief for her and a joy for the media, who will exploit it for every bit of advertising space and hard copy the sell.

For those of you who are not Australian and/or haven’t heard about her saga, Schapelle is an Australian woman who was convicted of smuggling marijuana in Indonesia back in May of 2005 and sentenced to 20 years. In October of 2004 Schapelle was caught by authorities at Denpasar Airport on Bali with 4.2 kg (9.3 pounds) of cannabis stashed in her bodyboard bag. The case was a media circus, fuelled by controversy and Schapelle’s good looks. Now the Schapelle Show is back in town as Corby is set to be released on parole.

I only heard about the Schapelle Corby case a couple of weeks ago, and not due to her impending release, but because I was watching a miniseries about another Australian convicted drug smuggler, Van Nguyen, who unlike Schapelle, paid with his life for his crimes at the hands of the Singapore justice system. Spending nearly nine years in a Bali jail for marijuana is certainly no holiday, but at least Schapelle is still alive.

If there is a lesson for travellers to Bali (or anywhere for that matter) it’s don’t take any unnecessary risks. Certainly don’t traffic drugs, but that’s a no-brainer. If you do that you probably know the risks, which are higher than they are in Australia. And I’ve no idea if Schapelle is guilty or was set up by a devious smuggler who secreted the weed in her bag unbeknownst to her. It’s possible she was duped, but perhaps unlikely.

The point is to be extra-careful, extra-nice and act like you are a guest. Bali is not your back yard — no matter what you’ve been lead to believe. Respect it. That means be cool, clean and polite. Lend a helping hand, like the group of Australian surfers who are surfing 100 beaches to raise funds for the poor, including orphans in Bali.

Check out this opinion piece in the Australian: Schapelle’s been to Bali too

Schapelle Corby

Pro Schapelle graffiti in Katoomba, Australia. Pic: Charlie Brewer (Wikimedia Commons)

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