Thorny thickets of the hippie trail

It seems that members of the Schapelle cheersquad aren’t quite as numerous as one would have imagined from reading the hysterical outpourings in our mainstream media. Fifty one percent of Australians think she’s innocent, but almost as many think she’s guilty or don’t know (the latter being the only position one can rationally take having not heard the evidence ourselves).

Mind you, as I discussed in my previous post, the evidence against Corby was pretty strong on its face, and it was well and truly open to the judges to find Corby guilty beyond reasonable doubt on the evidence. Moreover, although there might conceivably end up being cogent evidence flowing from investigations of corrupt baggage handlers which casts doubt on her guilt, close followers of the discussion in the Troppo comment boxes will also have noticed a couple of salient alleged facts which weren’t before the Bali court, but tend to tilt the scales rather strongly towards a conclusion of guilt.

One of our commenters claims to have inside knowledge from a travel agent that Corby had travelled to Bali some 8 times in the 18 months prior to her being caught red-handed with 4.2 kg of gunja at Denpasar Airport. I suppose it’s possible that she just has an unusually deep affection for her sister Mercedes, who lives in Bali, but cynics might speculate on a less innocent motive for so many trips.

And they might well regard their cynicism as being confirmed by the (alleged) fact that Mercedes runs/works in a surf shop in Kuta. It’s a fairly glaring fact of which I hadn’t until then been aware. As a Troppo commenter observed, Australian-owned bars, boutiques and especially surf shops are notoriously the places for young Aussie tourists to go to score dope. So we can add motive and opportunity to the strong direct evidence presented in court.

Maybe that’s why even many members of the Schapelle cheersquad seem now to have shifted ground from denying her guilt and excoriating the corrupt Indonesian system, to arguing that marijuana is a harmless drug that should be legalised.

Unfortunately, although that’s an argument that plays well to a gallery of lefties and libertarians in Australia, it goes down like a lead balloon in conservative Indonesia, the largest Muslim nation in the world. There, the nascent democratic government is fighting a battle for the hearts and minds of ordinary Indonesians against Al Qaeda and fundamentalist Muslim clerics like Abu Bakr Bashir. Even Indonesian politicians who are both liberal-minded and pro-Australian (not an especially plentiful breed) are likely to be very hesitant about expressing any sympathy or leniency towards someone like Schapelle Corby, lest they give the fundamentalists a perfect opening to portray them as corrupt pawns of the decadent, arrogant west and its attempts to inflict the loose western morality of drugs, alcohol and promiscuity on devout Indonesian Muslims.

Now, I suppose you wouldn’t really expect any of these broader political aspects necessarily to have occurred to Mercedes and Schapelle prior to the latter being busted. They may have assumed that the probability of getting caught was fairly low, and that if they did then Schapelle could just turn on the helpless bogan sex kitten act and authorities would turn a blind eye. Certainly, until recently Bali has in practice been something of a free-fire zone for gunja dealers. The old Men at Work hit (“on the hippie trail head full of zombie“) accurately summed up both the Aussie perception and the reality of a Bali holiday. The combination of a poorly paid local police force and a mostly Hindu population more interested in cashing in on tourism than in protecting traditional Islamic values, meant that a a high level of de facto tolerance towards at least soft drugs was very much the norm. Sadly for Schapelle, September 11, the Bali bombings and the ongoing activities of Jemaah Islamiah have radically altered the situation, maybe permanently.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

One of the issues that amazes me is the lack of any real factual reporting on this case. We live in a time where it seems there are no reporters only columnists. And all too frequently columnists with nothing to say of any real interest. Any random blog pulled up will provide more thoughtful writing and thought provoking writing than most news columnists and TV current affairs shows.

It is easy to establish if Corby Mercedes has a surf shop, its easy to establish if there is an Aussie market for hydroponic dope sold by Aussies from surf shops, it’s easy to establish if Schappers went to Bali frequently, it’s easy to establish if she spent more $ than she appeared to earn legitimatly, it’s easy enough to ask why she took her own boogie board all the way to Bali on a plane when, if her sister runs a surf shop, one assumes she could have borrowed one, it’s easy enough to establish if her sister’s shop had a reputation for selling dope. And so on and so forth.

None of this makes her guilty or not guilty. But news papers / media (and the government) don’t seem to place any value on facts being unearthed, checked, verified.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Francis

Up until now you can well and truly understand why media outlets would have felt constrained in undertaking those sorts of fact-finding exercises and publicising the results. It could have prejudiced the outcome of Corby’s trial. But now we’re in the appellate stage, that constraint is much weaker. So you’re right. It IS difficult to understand why some enterprising investigative reporter hasn’t been digging into these things. Maybe there might even be some bloggers or blog readers in a position to do so. Anyone heading for Bali in the near future? I’d certainly be happy to publish a well-researched piece looking at these sorts of factual allegations.

In fact, maybe you don’t even need to go to Bali to investigate the surf shop allegation. According to this interview (http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2005/s1355869.htm) with Schapelle’s father on 7.30 report, Mercedes and her partner DON’T own a surf shop, although she does work in one on a part-time basis (which on one interpretation of Mr Corby’s words is owned by their mother!!):

“Oh, “And why did she take a boogie board bag, a boogie board? Her brother-in-law and sister own a big surf shop in Bali. She could borrow one off them.” Oh. They don’t own a surf shop. They’re just over there for that period of time. Mercedes works – assists at the shop sometimes, just helpin’ out her mum, and she packs shelves at Coles. And Warren works some factory makin’ screen doors. That’s what they do. ”

There seems to be a Kuta surf shop connection, but God knows exactly what it is.

Finally, Michael Corby also denies in the 7.30 Report interview that Corby had gone backwards and forwards to Bali numerous times. He claims she hadn’t been there for at least 5 years. Again you would think that would be fairly easy to check from passport entry stamps. You would think that Indonesian officials would have checked that, and that it WOULD have figured in the evidence presented in court if indeed she had been backwards and forwards so many times (although the admissibility of such evidence under Australian law would be questionable).

Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

Ken – Francis seems so formal – all my detractors call me FX. If you want to be nice it’s Special FX.

I see on TV the other night 10 days in Bali for ~$1,000 all up. I have a few days free, if you want to pony up I’ll do the trip, front the Corby surf shop, find out how to buy dope, prices etc and not scream at the judge or gennerally make a fool of myself.

I will however support Ms Corby The Elder, she of The Supreme Eyebrow Pluck, on one thing. I agree “John Howard should get off his arse and do something”. In general I mean, not about this court case.

observa
observa
2022 years ago

FX, the best summary I read of the case against Corby was here http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,15354777%5E28737,00.html
I raised the same issue of the increase in weight which Corby answers with the broken handle tale and having to drag the board. That means she had to handle the board to retrieve it and how come its extra thickness was not noted? Ken raises some of the other questions alluding to guilt, that are beginning to float about the ether.

The 7.30 Report interview with Michael Corby, leaves some of his clarifying statements as clear as mud, as Ken alludes to. Ken is right that the apellate stage is now the time for MSM to go over the whole saga with a fine investigative toothcomb. Because of the intense public interest in the case, they now have the economic incentive to do the hard yards, because the whole truth will be a best-seller. You could imagine ABC Four Corners interest as well as the commercials in this regard. This is a rerun of Lindy Chamberlain and no stone will be left unturned now. Every investigative journo wants to be a budding Woodward or Bernstein on this one.

Rafe
2022 years ago

A couple of other points, she is usually referred to as a “girl” which arouses sympathy but would normally be considered condescending for a woman of 27.
She is also called a student of some kind but others have hinted that she has not worked or studied seriously for some years.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

“a mostly Hindu population”

I thought they were Buddhists.

“Mercedes and Schapelle”

The parents should be gaoled for crimes against children’s names.

“Sadly for Schapelle, September 11…have radically altered the situation, maybe permanently.”

Exactly. September 11 changed a lot things, almost all for the worse, IMO. The people running the tourist-drug trade in Bali should have been more aware of the political environment in which they operate. It’s not business as usual any more.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Dave

No, they’re Hindu. See http://www.balivision.com/Article_Resources/Religion.asp :

“Outside of India, Bali is the largest Hindu outpost in the world. Put in another way, it’s the furthest reaches of the Hindu empire…”

John Quiggin
John Quiggin
2022 years ago

Mercedes was a perfectly ordinary girl’s name (Spanish for Mercy, I think) long before it was slapped on a car (IIRC it was the name of the daughter of one of the founders of the Mercedes-Benz company)

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

FXH,
My dear musically demented friend the NSW police believes three things in this case off the rcord of course.
1) it is much easier to grow the stuff in Indonesia
2) it is much easier to bribe the police in Indonesia
3) the demand is much lower in Indonesia than in Australia.

I concur with you with relations to basic facts.
Much as I understand Schapelle was lookin after her dad in an unit.

M/s Corby is iether the owrst business woman in Australia or a very naive ‘mule’!

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

OK, I’ll concede on Mercedes (and the Hindus). But Schappelle?

It sounds like a word you make up when you’re cheating at Scrabble.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

I liked the take of Caz from Spin Starts Here: “We called her Sharp Elle because her head was rool rool pointy”.

Mork
Mork
2022 years ago

The one thing I’d like to see is a morotorium on asserting that Ms. Corby is physically attractive as an explanation for the behaviour of the media.

I just don’t see it.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2022 years ago

Well, I’m bored with the whole business.

Next: Russell Crowe fights trumped up charges in New York that could get him 8 years in the slammer.

(I’d like to be his lawyer. Imagine how much he’ll be prepared to pay to get out of it.)

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Rafe, I gather she’s a beauty school dropout. That may not be any reflection on her abilities – the fees for private beauty schools run into the thousands.

Homer, a number of people have pointed out that there’s a market for high quality Australian head in Bali and part of the market is Westerners. So it’s not particularly to the point whether the stuff is grown in Indonesia or it’s cheaper. Apparently it’s not very good shit, as we used to say.

harry
2022 years ago

~$20 a gram apparently.
So, if you could sell 4kilos in gram lots that’s a fair bit of money.

Niall
Niall
2022 years ago

“Unfortunately, although that’s an argument that plays well to a gallery of lefties and libertarians in Australia…”

Says who?

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

Speaking as someone who has bought “tea” from a Byron Bay surf/head shop on more than one occasion, I can recognise a certain smell here.

Not saying Corby (actually a higher scrabble score than Schapelle if you get the ‘Y” on a triple letter square – assumin’ of ‘cos you don’t get her first name out in one go) was a player in the scenerio I’m hinting at.

But really – Bali, pot, hedonistic young Australians abroad, surf shops as a social nexus and a frequent flyer without visible means of support. There is an ambience, n’est ce pas?

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Mark,
you like ken are missing the economics of the situation.

russell was reading the wrong version.
Let he who is without a ring through the firdt phone!

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

Mark,
you like ken are missing the economics of the situation.

russell was reading the wrong version.
Let he who is without a ring through the first phone!

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

Git you to Gitmo Homer. Terrorism’s one thing, but your puns quite another. Haven’t we suffered enough in the cause of freedom?

Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Was that a pun, Homer?

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

Well it wasn’t a home pun.

mark
2022 years ago

When *will* you tire of these homepun witticisms, Homer?

Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

When will someone o pun the door and kick homer out.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

in termsof wit I agree with my wife in that I am halfway there.
That;s nothing to crowe about!

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Homer

You’re probably right that it’s nothing to crowe about, and you’re lucky we’re all talking in cyberspace or someone would throw a telephone at you.

Homer Paxton
Homer Paxton
2022 years ago

thanks for the ringing endorsement!

adrian
2022 years ago

‘Sadly for Schapelle, September 11, the Bali bombings and the ongoing activities of Jemaah Islamiah have radically altered the situation, maybe permanently’.

And even sadder for Corby-maybe the very thing which brought her undone-is the fact of the newly democratic Indonesia. Since the elections Bam Bam has instituted his campaign promise to stamp out corruption. Mainly due to the reluctance of foreign investment to consider the joint. Now one even lines up to get a vehicle registration, as in Australia.

Regarding the name ‘Schapelle’, my theory is it derives from cricket legend, Ian Chappell, or ‘Chappelli’ as he was effectionally called at the height of his career. Around the time of Corby’s birth. Just a hunch though…

GregM
GregM
2022 years ago

Adrian, I think you mean Bambang. Bam Bam is a Flintstones character, the child of Barney and Betty Rubble. I agree with the point you’ve made though.

mark
2022 years ago

That one was a gift, Ken!

(“Ringing endorsement”… crikey…)