Mildura Weekly : Friday May 16 2014 Vol 8 No 28
Mildura Weekly – 16/05/14 9 www.milduraphonebook.com.au By ALAN ERSKINE IT’S said to be the only jail in the world where the rules are set by the prisoners. You can get pretty much anything you want, as long as you have the cash. It doesn’t matter who you are, or where you come from. You might have to share rela- tively small quarters with as many as 50 inmates, murder- ers, rapists and drug mules in- cluded, barter for food, look out for cockroaches, rats, ants and snakes, watch your mouth – and watch your back! Paul Conibeer, 45, knows exactly what it’s like. He spent 10 months in Kerobokan for something so simple, it’s al- most laughable. But the turn of events that saw Paul jailed, firstly in a police holding cell, and then Kerobokan, was no laughing matter. And speaking with the Mildura Weekly from his new Queensland home this week (he doesn’t want the location disclosed), Paul has a warning for Mildura Weekly readers... what happened to him could quite easily happen to any one of us. The most shocking part of Paul’s story is the fact that he would never have been jailed at all if he’d had the cash to pay his way out of the situation. Bribery is a way of life in Bali. Paul should know, he’d been there several times, in party mode, taking advantage of the cheap accommodation, the very cheap alcohol, the very, very friendly girls, and the amazing night life. But the 2012 holiday, a planned 10-week get-away after a series of failed relationships, turned into his worst night- mare. After reading the book, and after speaking with Paul, you realise the most frightening thing is the fact that he paid a high price for something so trivial. Despite that, he was forced to share a jail with rap- ists, murderers and drug deal- ers/addicts. And if you do happen to end up in jail, don’t expect mir- acles from your Government... Paul doesn’t have any nice things to say about the people he turned to for help - consular officials from NZ and Australia. Paul’s Bali trip started out like all the others. Check into a cheap hotel, lots of swims in the pool and the nearby beach, make some new friends, take advantage of cheap shopping, enjoy the Bali hospitality, soak up the atmosphere...and lots of alcohol... and enjoy the nightlife. Then do it all again the next day. The one thing he usu- ally made sure of was to tuck his wallet and phone down the front of his pants for safe- keeping. Pick-pockets are rife in Bali, and tourists are the main victims. One night Paul slipped up, putting his valu- ables into the side pocket of his cargo shorts. He was an easy target for the street kids, some distracting him while one stole his wallet and phone. • Continued Page 13 Bali is a favourite holiday spot for a section of the Mildura population...mainly the younger brigade. Bali can be a fun place, but a holiday there can be fraught with danger, as evidenced by recent events, and as the following story shows. Most readers would have heard about this idyllic Indonesian island resort because of the Kuta nightclub bombings, the Bali Nine drug smugglers, or the Schapelle Corby case. But what we don’t realise is that at any one time, there could be as many as 20 young Australians, and hundreds of other nationalities, languishing in jails like the feared Kerobokan Prison. Some face the death penalty. Others are in for life, or jail terms ranging from five to 20 years, mostly after being convicted on drug smuggling charges. New Zealand-born but Australian-raised former car salesman Paul Conibeer is one of the ‘lucky’ ones. He was sentenced to just 10 months. His crime? Being unable to pay a hotel bill after he was pick- pocketed and had his wallet stolen! Paul, not long out of jail, 25 kilograms lighter, a lot wiser and now an author appreciating being back in Australia, is trying to get his life back on track. His book is a sober reminder that we shouldn’t take anything for granted on overseas holidays, especially to Bali. It’s a case of the good, the bad and the ugly, a place where life can be measured in terms of just one methanol- laced cocktail, and Paul’s story should serve as an early warning system for anyone, especially the young and adventurous, who might be planning a holiday to one of the world’s most popular adventure playgrounds. Anyone planning a trip to Indonesia should read this... The darker side of Bali Surviving the ‘other side’ of paradise A FEW hints from the ‘things you should know’ file. Australian travellers should make sure they have at least six months left on their passport, otherwise they won’t be allowed to enter the country. Gambling is illegal in Indonesia. There have been reported cases where visitors have become vic- tims of organised gambling scams. The gangs often target single men travelling alone. And there have also been cases where Austra- lians have been smooth-talked into paying depos- its for time-share properties when they don’t really want them. Some offer gifts or prizes to suck people in. Lots of people have encountered high-pressure sales tactics. The nightlife is amazing. ‘Foam’ parties, roof- top bars, and bar staff who don’t care if you’ve had enough. If you’ve got the cash, they’ve got the drinks. Many of the more popular clubs are owned by gangs, and operate in collusion. Spiking of drinks is a regular occurrence, sometimes leading to bash- ings, robberies, rapes, even murder. The drugs scene is legendary. People can buy pseudo ephedrine, otherwise known as speed, and hallucinogenic mushrooms in ‘milkshake’ form. Cocaine, ecstasy and ice is also freely available. Dealers simply walk the streets. Paul Conibeer relates the story of a friend who was outside Kerobakon when an inmate threw a brick over the jail wall into the street. Strapped to the brick was a small packet. The prisoner was sell- ing drugs to the outside! Indonesia is a law unto itself. Very few visitors understand the legal system. It may well be that even the Indonesian authorities don’t understand it. Paul experienced it first-hand. He didn’t get a fa- vourable hearing, and certainly no sympathy from the judicial system, sentenced to 10 months for fail- ing to pay a hotel bill after his wallet was stolen. Po- lice, prison guards, even the Judge was laughing at Paul...”you make sure you pay your hotel bill next time,” the Judge told him. Bali law is harsh, the penalties even harsher. Corby got 20 years for smuggling just over 4 kilo- grams of drugs. Some of the Bali 9 are on death row. The Mildura Weekly learned that at least 10 drug smugglers have either been executed, or are due to be, this year alone. 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Friday May 9 2014 Vol 8 No 27
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