Stab Magazine | What the Bali executions mean for surf tourism
737 Views

What the Bali executions mean for surf tourism

Story by Lucas Townsend Today, Australians woke to news that Bali Nine pair, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, were among nine foreign nationals executed in Indonesia. The pair were arrested on drug trafficking charges and sentenced to death in 2006, and this morning at roughly 3:30am were shot by a firing squad on the island […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Story by Lucas Townsend

Today, Australians woke to news that Bali Nine pair, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, were among nine foreign nationals executed in Indonesia. The pair were arrested on drug trafficking charges and sentenced to death in 2006, and this morning at roughly 3:30am were shot by a firing squad on the island of Nusakambangan.

The Australian Government called a press conference in Canberra this morning and took the unprecedented move of withdrawing its ambassador. To say relationships aren’t super right now between Australia and Indonesia is an understatement, after clashes over border policies, asylum seekers, an espionage scandal and now this.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Julie Bishop tasked with trying to negotiate clemency, earlier this year said if executions went ahead, “Australian people will demonstrate their deep disapproval of this action, including making decisions about where they wish to holiday.” And since news broke this morning that’s exactly what’s happened on social media, with calls to boycott Indonesia (#boycottbali #boycottindonesia).

But not in our feed.

Tai-Graham_Budda_FF

Tai ‘Buddha’ Graham, perched beneath Keramas. Photo: Jason Childs

Stab’s most recent survey revealed that 51.81 percent of Australian readers intend to travel to Indonesia this year. And, according to Tai ‘Buddha’ Graham, and a number of locals we spoke to, that number won’t change.

“Without being disrespectful, give it a week and I think it’ll be forgotten about (by most of the world),” voice-of-reason Tai says. “Oz is pretty amped on it all, I can see that. But to give you an idea, I had dinner with a Frenchman last night and he didn’t know anything about it.”

Tai is part-owner of the Single Fin bar at Uluwatu and works with surf companies like O’Neill, so his clientele check through Denpasar Airport with three-plus boards every time. But Tai says surfers are of a different mentality to the remaining Bintang singlets making up a million tourists each year from Australia.

“You know what surfers are like… they’re hoping people stop going so they get emptier waves. It’s like after the bombs (Bali Bombings ’02 and ’05), surfers kept this place alive, not normal tourists. They’re like the saviours of this place, no matter what happens.”

Stab spoke to a surf travel company who asked not to be named and said they’d had no bookings cancelled.

Photo: Scotty Hammonds

“The execution will have no impact on the surf season,” says Lee Wilson. Photo: Scotty Hammonds

Freesurfer Lee Wilson says the only people who should boycott Bali are the drug dealers. “First of all, my heart goes out to the mothers and fathers who lost their precious children today,” he says. “But in my opinion it’s the drug dealers and mules who should boycott transporting drugs to Bali and value their lives more.”

“I don’t agree with the execution but the rules are beyond clear to everybody… If Australians wanna boycott (Bali), others will fill their spots real quick. The execution will have no impact on the surf season. The waves are too good and the beer is cheap.

“If you wanna come and be a drug kingpin, it might come with a blindfold and a shower of bullets. That is the reality. It’s not a threat, it’s a promise from the leaders of the country.”

Local Volcom rider, Muklis Anwar, says there’s a risk the country’s image could get damaged. “I think it’s bullshit,” he says. “I don’t like the image it leaves, because it sounds very scary. I think if the Indonesian Government is very serious on this drug thing, they also should be serious with the terrorism that happens in Indo, because some of the terrorists are out of jail, while the drugs are dealt with by death penalty.”

Punishment versus crime is the contentious issue, say Tai.

“There’s two points of view here. Indonesians in general don’t think death is that big of a deal. They have funerals and births every other day… It’s not like the West where someone dies from a motor bike accident here and you have a memorial surf comp every 12 months.”

Padang_Indo

Worse political, legal or social factors haven’t stopped surfers travelling for waves worse than this. Photo: Nate Lawrence

“Then there’s the expats and educated Jakarta crew who are against the death penalty… From my perspective, and the chat among the town is the penalty for the crime doesn’t match death. No one kicked up a hoo-ha when the bombers got executed because of the people they killed.”

But, it’s a two-way difference of opinion. Where The West see capital punishment as a barbaric, outdated decision, Tai says their stance on drugs doesn’t align with local Indonesians either.

“That’s on the other side of things. The West’s perception of drugs is that it isn’t that big of a deal.”

Asked if the heroin problem in Indonesia is as severe as President Joko Widodo says, Tai agrees.

“The heroin problem is bad,” he says. “There’s four million people, and there’s a huge aids epidemic from the sharing of needles. Jump over to Sumba or Sumbawa, where you think they don’t get on drugs, but shabu shabu (methamphetamine) is huge in the remote areas. There’s nothing to do and they get hooked on it.”

Comments

Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up

Advertisement

Most Recent

12:31

You’re Gonna Click On An Oscar Lungburne Video

Style that can't be denied.

Sep 29, 2022

Long Read: An Angel At My Table

From Stab Issue 15, October 2006: Chris Davidson has one more shot at the big…

Sep 28, 2022

5:07

Watch: Kalani David’s Last Dance

A final surf part from the Hawaiian surf/skate prodigy.

Sep 28, 2022

Taylor Steele Won’t Let Surf Filmmaking Die Without a Fight

Movies shown, filmmaking advice, punk rock at the 2022 Solento Surf Festival.

Sep 28, 2022

Wait, Are We Going To See Moana Jones In The Olympics At Teahupo’o?

Team USA (women) and Japan (men) should be able to choose anyone they want to…

Sep 27, 2022

Donald Brink and Matt Biolos Win Mick Fanning’s Electric Acid Surfboard Test

And we had a party in Oceanside to celebrate.

Sep 26, 2022

Kanoa Igarashi and Kirra Pinkerton Answer Call Of Duty, Win Medals Of Honor In 2022 ISA World Games

Teams Japan, USA, and France move into Victor’s Village.

Sep 26, 2022

The Best Euro Surf Trips That Mightn’t Be On Your Radar

Want to know which less-trodden nation offers the most potential?

Sep 26, 2022

Former CT Surfer Chris Davidson Passes Away At Age 45

A radical life tragically ends outside a bar in New South Wales.

Sep 25, 2022

Where You Should Be In Europe Right Now

An overview of the region's greatest hits.

Sep 25, 2022

The Team Ukraine Interview

“There are mines near the shore, and already a lot of people have died…so it’s…

Sep 24, 2022

Mormaii Founder Raided By Brazilian Feds On Suspicion Of Plotting Against Democracy

Curiously, he's the second surf brand founder to become entangled in a political scandal of…

Sep 24, 2022

The Electric Acid Surfboard Test With Mick Fanning, Episode 4

There are three boards left. Which one is Mick taking home?

Sep 23, 2022

Watch: Tresha

The Bella Kenworthy Edit.

Sep 22, 2022

Photos: Welcome To Vans Stab High Indonesia, Presented By Monster Energy

Welcome to Lakey Peak. Now do airs.

Sep 22, 2022

5:27

Taro Watanabe Is The Love Child Of Your Favorite 80’s Surfers

Watch his new edit 'Sonic Youth' now.

Sep 22, 2022

The Four-Finned, Carbon-Wrapped, Vacuum-Bagged Board That Won The 2022 World Title 

The minds behind Sharp Eye and Dark Arts break down Filipe's winning plank.

Sep 22, 2022

Selema Masekela Discusses The New Film “Sweet Adventure,” A New Love For El Salvador and His Not-So-New Music Career 

"It's literally the entirety of my life coming full circle in a way that I…

Sep 22, 2022
Advertisement