Brokedown Palace perfectly illustrated the old adage: “The brighter the sunshine, the darker the shadow.”
But Ganja Queen was a royal clusterfuck.
I quit watching fictional TV when reality took over (and subsequently CNN fell down the shitter) documentaries seemed to be the best bet for brain stimulation outside of ’80s action movies. Before we gave up HBO I stumbled upon the story of Schapelle Corby one lazy afternoon after classes. I checked the Dish Network grid and I missed the first 10-15 minutes, but followed along rather quickly after the terms “hydroponic MJ”, “boogie board bag”, and “Balinese prison” came together in a wonderful 12 car pileup.
I think university journalism courses really need to include a study of foreign news outlets in their curriculum and the culture that influences it- and I DON’T mean ITV, BBC, CBC, BBC America, Al-Jazeera English, France24, Russia Today, or NHK World. These foreign news services are aimed for the English-speaking (particularly American) markets because there are so many expats doing business in their respective countries and don’t fritter away their airtime with Katy Holmes’ rumored $cientology-approved pregnancy or which escort agency Tiger Woods especially hires for dick sucking.
So I see the sweat-glossed visage of a twenty-something blue-eyed brunette Aussie chick going to pieces in a grody Indonesian courthouse amid a media circus because she stands accused of trafficking a fucking 10 pound (4.1 kilos) bag of weed in her surf bag. Now Southeast Asian jails are packed with expat prisoners who are mules, addicts, dealers, child molesters, pimps, pros, etc. and here is this one cute woman- dubbed ‘The Brisbane Beauty’ by tabloids- on a family holiday and she ends up five years into a 20 year sentence in Kerobokan Prison after a claptrap defense hacked together by a bunch of sidewinding poseurs and the truly inept with razor blades and pieces of tape!
Oh yeah, and the latest news from Down Under reports she’s lost her mind.
There are two big things we need to keep in mind when dealing with Indonesia: 1) At its very heart the government is nothing more than a cronyist dictatorship spiced with Islamic fundamentalism. 2) Despite how wealthy the country is with natural resources (that include oil and natural gas), a robust financial sector, tourism, and textile industry poverty is rampant and this has a ripple effect throughout the social stratosphere.
According to XE.com (as of this date 2010), 1 million Indonesian Rupiahs equal to roughly $112 US dollars. In Australian dollars, $124.
Now I don’t know how much an Indonesian airport security guard, police officer, soldier, military police, prison guard, attorney or judge makes annually, but in ’04 when Schapelle was arrested, her older sister Mercedes took her million Rupiah (then $140 AUD) went to Denpasar Int’l Airport and was going to “sort out” the whole business because she thought someone forgot to finish their breakfast roach. Now I saw the security tape of Mercedes and Schapelle in holding and there’s this tampered vacuum-sealed bag of weed with buds as big as my tits in the middle of the floor, and cops are shoving what’s a confession for Schapelle to sign under her nose.
The media lives for this shit- especially if it’s state-run supporting the local dictator in a country where drugs are a visible problem. In Asia the media love blowing shit out of the water, and the latest was making a soft-core porn star out of a Hong Kongese student and pro-Tibetan independence supporter. Now I know European colonization has much to do with the problems of developing countries like Indonesia, but the full blame can’t be laid on the white-skinned foreigner if the overwhelming evidence of corruption and security failures on behalf of Qantas Airlines and the Australian government lashes anybody with a shred of common sense!
I also believe that despite Janine Hoskings’ altruistic intentions, I don’t believe that the Corby Family was accurately portrayed. I read both Schapelle’s bio and Tony Wilson’s book, and I saw a flailing working-class bohemian-esque Gold Coast family under all this unwanted attention. They’re not stupid- Rosleigh Rose was a businesswoman with her own shop and the late Mick Corby enjoyed his beer and was well-read. But their lack of sophistication is what the media honed in on. Especially when they became entangled with “Mad Ron” Bakir, Robin Tampoe, Lily Lubis, and Vasu Rasiah.
Ganja Queen is at best a cautionary tale for travelers and should be seen AFTER reading Tony Wilson’s book, Schapelle: The Facts. The Evidence. The Truth. Victims of Indonesia’s labyrinthine extortion racket came forward to tell their jailhouse horror stories and one Dutch tourist’s near brush with a fate worse than death when he discovered a bag of coke planted in his luggage. And don’t look to your consulate for help folks, they’re too busy drenching up the sun and patronizing the bar girls! In one TV interview an Aussie couple found a brick of weed in their luggage when they were unpacking in their Bali hotel suite. They phoned up the consul and he told them to flush the shit down the toilet, it wasn’t worth the hell they would be put through if they turned it in.
Makes me wonder if Mad Ron’s mystery caller was really Prosecutor Wiswantanu’s handler demanding roughly $1.1 million AUD in exchange for a reduced sentence of 6 years. Sounds like he’s the one who couldn’t find the beach on an island.