THE arrest of a teenage boy in Bali for possession of marijuana should serve as a warning to families planning an overseas holiday to talk to their children about the enormous risk that comes with illegal drug possession.
For one 14-year-old boy and his New South Wales parents, the warning has come too late as he faces uncertainty in a cell at Denpasar’s police headquarters in a country with a hard-line reputation for dealing with drug offenders.
As anyone who travels to Bali knows, Australians are flocking to the island paradise in droves, and now represent the number-one source of all foreign arrivals.
In July this year, 437,000 Australians had travelled to Bali over the past year, a 27 per cent jump year-on-year.
It’s no secret as to what is luring holiday-makers to the island – a relaxed, laid-back experience where Australians can indulge in their passion for food, drink and fine hotels without breaking the bank.
Like this latest family caught up in a Bali drug arrest, many Australians are repeat visitors; making more than one visit per year by taking advantage of airfares significantly cheaper than those to Australian destinations.
Folk arriving at Bali’s Ngurah Rai airport are ominously greeted by huge signs stating: “Welcome to Indonesia, Death penalty for drug traffickers”.
For those who ignore the risk, the string of Australians serving seriously long jail terms in the tough Kerobokan Prison for drug possession and trafficking should help underscore that money and political intervention will not save Australians acting up abroad.
What Australians need to do is wake up and understand the responsibility that comes with entering a country with a different set of laws to our own.
This means talking though the risks with our families, and understanding that the threat of the Indonesian death penalty is very real.