Bali backlash

By JENI FAULKNER

BALI may be thousands of kilometres from the shores of the Coffs Coast, but local business operators are feeling the fallout from the outcome of the Schapelle Corby case.

Yasmin Van Haren has been operating her Balinese stall Nimsay Handicrafts for the past 18 months and on Sunday she suffered her biggest financial loss.

Each weekend Yasmin travels around the region attending markets and she believes her store was boycotted in Lennox Head on Sunday because her stock comes from Indonesia.

Retail operators across Australia have felt a similar backlash from angry Schapelle supporters, and some travel agents have also noticed a downturn in tickets sales.

"I experienced a boycott first hand at the weekend," Ms Van Haren said.

"The general consensus was that the items I sell are from Bali so people didn't want to buy them because they don't want to support Indonesia."

Ms Van Haren only received a quarter of her daily sales on Sunday and, if that wasn't enough, to dampen her spirits even more people were basically refusing to look at her items.

Ms Van Haren, like many other business operators in Coffs Harbour, travels to Bali each year to build up her stock lines of crochet hats, clothes and jewellery.

When she first opened Nimsay almost two year ago she said it was from humble beginings and she thanks the Balinese people for providing her with an income to support herself and her two children.

"When I first started I found myself near the bottom of Australia's socio-economic scale, in a way similar to the Balinese people," she said.

"The malicious campaign over the weekend has had a depressing impact on me, apart from the obvious repercussion on my business."

In response Ms Van Haren believes the boycott will only make Schapelle Corby's situation worse, with long-term consequences for people who have no influence on the events surrounding her case.

"The Balinese people have already gone through the bomb and so many people suffered after that, why should they suffer because of this case?"

"The Balinese people deserve better than having their meagre livelihoods threatened in response to a local judicial verdict that they themselves have no influence over."

Sue and Barry Rowles from Biasa Gift and Homeware at Park Beach Plaza started off selling Balinese products, but over time they have been phasing out this particular stock.

"At this stage we haven't seen the Corby case interrupting business," Ms Rowles said.

"We still stock a small amount of Indonesian products and it would be a shame to think people were avoiding these products because of the case."

Ms Rowles said the outcome for Schapelle Corby had sadden her and it was hard to understand because our laws in Australia are so different, but she understands the laws cannot be changed for one person.

"If it was Thailand or India I guess the same thing would happen, people would avoid buying those items too," she said.

"But when you think about it it's silly. We would be in a real stew if it was China and we were avoiding items from there because everything you buy is from there."

Senior Travel consultant for Kelly Travel, Sandra Whittington, said there had only be a small amount of Coffs Harbour residents that had avoided travel to Bali.

"We have only had one cancellation for Bali and a couple this week said at this stage they would not want to travel there," Ms Whittington said.

"But other than that tickets are selling to Bali, we would have one person, if not more, coming in to buy tickets there each day."

"If anyone takes drugs into another country they are facing risks. If she was innocent and someone planted to drugs in her bag it was done in Australia and it would not have mattered where she was going."

Alexander Downer spoke to Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda this week regarding the backlash Australian residents were giving to Indonesia.

"He didn't express any concern about (how Australians were reacting)," Mr Downer said.

"I would only say this myself, it doesn't help if people are abusive and negative towards Indonesia.

"If people want her (Corby) to come to Australia at some time in the future, they hope that the appeal is successful or if the appeal is unsuccessful, they hope that a pardon (is) given by the Indonesians, berating and denigrating Indonesia is not really going to help the cause."

Mr Downer said there were no problems between Australia and Indonesia at the political level.



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