23 December 2009

Schapelle Corby -- Depressed and Desperate?

It has been a while since I last wrote a Schapelle Corby related post. There has been no reason for this, other than not being bothered. I am planning on writing a couple (I might do them all in a row now that I am onto it). This particular post was inspired by some email I received asking me what I thought about her deteriorating mental state and whether she should be repatriated to Australia for treatment. It was also inspired by the above recent New Idea cover.

The picture, as they say, tells a thousand words. So, I won't bore you with a thousand more analyzing, but rather, I will just bore you with a few observations.

1. Why is it that New Idea has an exclusive deal with new tidbits of Schapelle Corby related information? Is there a media deal in place? Is Schapelle profiting from this exclusive deal?

2. How does this exclusive deal advance the campaign to bring Schapelle Corby home?

3. A recent report from Dr. Jonathon Phillips stated that Schapelle Corby was severely depressed, harming herself (allegedly cutting herself with a piece of glass), had regressed into a child like state, and who is not likely to survive prison. However, this picture (above) does not paint that scenario, of a desperate and depressed woman, does it?

4. In contrast, her regular doctor, Dr. Thong, has argued that Schapelle Corby is depressed and anxious. But, with medication that is taken as it is prescribed to be, Schapelle Corby can function normally and within the parameters of what is expected of a person in her situation.

5. I have argued pretty consistently that Schapelle Corby has been found guilty and exhausted her appeals, and no amount of rearguing and rehashing the evidence is likely to change this fact. The focus must now be on how to speed up the process of repatriation. I firmly believe that five years is more than enough time for the crime that she has been convicted of. However, a cover such as this one and an open letter to Australians has not seemed to endear her to the wider Australian populace. In fact, popular support seems to be running along the lines of, if you do the crime you must do the time. This is sad, sad for Schapelle Corby.

6. If part of the strategy is to generate support for the idea that Schapelle Corby has done enough time for the crime she has been convicted of, then it is time to broaden the base of appeal. It should not matter whether you think she is innocent or guilty in order to join the movement for repatriation. As long as you think she has done enough time and deserves to be repatriated, then that is enough. Unfortunately, this is not the case. It seems that in order to be a supporter you have to be a true believer in that Schapelle Corby is an innocent victim; a political porn in some geo-political game, where you must toe the single party line.

Perhaps this is why I have not written more frequently. I support the idea that Schapelle Corby has done enough time, but I cannot bring myself to ascribe to the party line. I wonder how many more people like me are out there; people wanting to help, but also turned off by the constant derision from true believers if you are not prepared to declare your support for innocence.

Sad really, very sad.


oigal said...

you just know you are gunna get the comments on this one.. :-)

Rob Baiton said...


Nah. The people that are most likely to be offended by these questions have sworn blind that they do not visit.

I would be surprised if it generates too much interest. Maybe an odd comment here or there. The Tampoe thread is still attracting the odd comment or 760 :D

Nefertari said...

Hi Rob,
Happy Holidays!
You brought up a lot of good observations. Here are some of my thoughts.

1) Mercedes has been working with New Idea with the sole purpose of bringing more attention to Schapelle's situation. It's a win-win in that hopefully it helps bring Schapelle home and for New Idea because bottom line is that Schapelle sells magazines. But, no, Schapelle is not profiting other than some positive media attention.

2)The thought is that by bringing more attention to her situation, more of the silent majority will put pressure on the politicians to do something.

3)The picture goes with the theme of the article: Schapelle giving thanks. Keep in mind, even mentally ill people like Schapelle, do smile once in a while. Dr. Phillips is a well respected psycologist and there's no reason to question his diagnosis. He would not risk is reputation over this.

4)Dr. Thong is a prison doctor, NOT a psycologist. You cannot fairly compare their statement. Plus, I can't imagine that if Dr. Thong agreed with Dr. Phillips it would be good for his career.

5)I mostly agree expect that I do believe a silent majority of Australians either support her coming home or don't care one way or the other. An odd thing happened recently. An online newspaper had a guilty/not guilty poll on Schapelle. By mid-day the not-guilty option was ahead 3-1. By the end of the day, votes had been removed from the not-guilty and added to the guilty side thus reversing the results. Several people saw this. I have no idea what to make of that.

6)Agreed. I've been a very close follower since the beginning and have no doubts about her innocence, however, that and a dollar will give me a dollar. The only way she's coming home is if the Australian politicians feel pressured by Aussie citizes to pressure Indonesia. And then, Indonesia will need a "save-face" option such as sending her home on humanitarian grounds.

Well, you have a happy new year and hopefully 2010 is the last in which you have to write about Schapelle.

Rob Baiton said...


Happy Holidays to you as well.

Thank you for a reasoned comment. I am not always used to them when I comment on Schapelle Corby or her incarceration.

I appreciate all the points you have raised. I would have to assume that you have inside information on this one to make some of the assertions that you do, particularly with respect to point 1.

Point 2 I answered in that I do not think that the discord between the photo and the alleged condition creates that silent majority or coopts them into becoming more vocal.

I appreciate that mentally ill people smile. I also appreciate that Schapelle may want to give thanks. However, once again, that really was not the point of the comment. The point was to highlight the discord and how that may impact on the focus of the campaign.

I am not necessarily questioning Dr. Phillips diagnosis. However, it is questionable whether he can gain a full and accurate diagnosis in one to two hours with Schapelle. A man of his reputation and skills would undoubtedly be more than qualified to make a first impression diagnosis. However, other doctors that see her regularly would be in a better position to make that assessment / diagnosis, wouldn't they?

With respect to point 4. As a prison doctor, Dr. Thong would be qualified to make that opinion. With respect to careers moves this is a classic tactic of using speculation to suggest something that is not on the record. Dr. Thong has agreed has he not that Schapelle is depressed. Where the differences lay is in the treatment protocol.

Wishful thinking. Just about every poll I have read of late has run strongly against Schapelle. Some of the comments have even been downright nasty.

I hope that she does get out. However, I hope this happens in a way that benefits all Australian prisoners incarcerated in foreign prisons. It would be a truly sad day if her release was to negatively impact on other Australians incarcerated overseas.

Nefertari said...

Hi Rob,
Yeah, I'm not sure either if the story will help or not. The Corbys are trying to keep Schapelle in the public eye. It's tough because it's difficult to control the media and you never know how the public will react. As for the polls, I haven't seen any legitimate ones lately (as opposeed to the online ones which aren't statistically valid samples).

Sounds like you've taken some abuse from supporters. Sorry about that. The problem is that most of us have never and will never meet Schapelle, but over the years have come to consider her as a friend. There have been some really nasty things said about Schapelle by all sorts of people and we tend to do what anyone does when a friend is attacked. We get angry. It doesn't help the situation, it's just human nature. I know you haven't attacked her, but as you haven't professed conviction in her innocence, you'll frequently get put in the enemy camp.

One of the biggest frustrations I have is the number of people that think she's guilty based on a lot of the early misinformation that was being spread by the media. Stories that have long been disproved. My feeling is that if you're going to condemn someone, at least make sure it's based on facts and not on myths.

But at this point, the only goal is to get her home and treated as soon as possible. I really do fear that she's not going to survive for very much longer. I can't speak for any other supporters, but I would certainly work with anyone who shares in the believe that it's time to bring her home. The reality is, bloggers like yourself do have an influence and can make things happen.

This is also bigger than Schapelle, it's about Australia standing up for it's citizens.

Kay Danes said...

It is virtually impossible to control the media even when you have a good relationship with them and rights to sign off. You can never be 100% certain of what they will print or if it might be tweaked to suit a particular theme. Hence why when prisoners are detained overseas, media strategies form part of an overall carefully planned legal, media, diplomatic = strategic campaign. Sadly, as we have seen with the Corby Case, these aspect were neglected from the onset and so typically, soon resembles a train wreck. Hence, nowadays, the Corby case is used in lectures at universities etc as a benchmark of what NOT to do when your loved one is detained overseas. Supporters may take offence to that but they shouldn't... in the grand scheme of things, it is important to educate future international lawyers and those wishing to pursue a diplomatic career, or a career in international relations in the actual realities of the field in which they will become engaged. It is a world littered with complexities, inconsistencies but the basic guidelines on dealing with foreign internment are fairly standard throughout the world. Engaging the right team and implementing a sound strategic campaign can lessen the impact on prisoners, as we have seen over the last decade.

Agreed that one of the biggest frustrations is the number of people that think she's guilty based on a lot of the early misinformation that was being spread by the media.

This is generally where "supporters" get caught up in knots. Their emotional involvement in the case can create an 'us' and 'them' mentality. The same can be seen in some families (not all) that find themselves wading through the emotions of the situation and trying to tackle the associated complexities.

Emotions invariably cloud a persons "best judgment" that they could otherwise make decisions under more rational and less personal circumstances. Hence why in any complex situation that involves the 'security of a client', it is best to engage professionals who can properly manage the situation without the distraction of emotion. It's extremely difficult to secure the release of someone in Schapelle's situation, while at the same time undoing all the damage done to her case/reputation simultaneously. In such cases, it's always best to evaluate the best outcome that can be gained, then tackle the other issues from a more politically stable platform.

Rob Baiton said...


As I said, I was merely making observations on the possible outcomes of an article such as this one.

I understand your points, though.

I would note that I have recently heard that Schapelle did not get any Christmas remission this year. Apparently, it is being reported that the authorities have considered her to be a trouble maker recently.

Onto the Schapelle is a friend issue. I find it bizarre that some people have such a deep connection to a woman they have never met. IN many ways it seems to go beyond just a need to see 'justice' for the innocent. It sometimes comes across as a little cultish at times. That is just me, I guess.

I am not sure that it is bigger than Schapelle nor am I convinced that it is a case of Australia standing up for her citizens. The reality is that if you take some of the arguments made by supporters of Schapelle at face value then it would seem that the Australian government has been, and continues to be, pro-active in ensuring that Schapelle Corby stays incarcerated.

But, help is a two-way street; if it is offered then it can only work if it has been accepted or vice versa if it is asked for it can only work if it is provided.

Rob Baiton said...


Strategic campaigns take a little bit of forethought and require a conscious effort to reject the commercialization or monetization of the campaign (for whatever reasons).

I appreciate and understand the frustrations that arise because of the misinformation and evidentiary issues that occurred in this case from the outset. However, there is still a reality that one must work within, even when one disagrees with how things might have played out (Indonesia is not a democratic country, it is a country of barbarians, they do not understand the rule of law, they have no laws of evidence, it is a military dictatorship, and the like - non of which seem to be sustainable in the Corby case as the issue that saw her convicted).

Indonesia might not be a perfect place, but then again where is the perfect democracy or country?

Yes, this is definitely a case that can be used to highlight how things can be done and how things should not be done.

Nefertari said...

Hi Rob,
Thank you! You just beautifully illustrated a point I was making about how even intelligent people, such as yourself, are easily misled by the media.

The remissions have not been decided yet. The prison has recommended 1 month for Schapelle, but it needs to be approved by the president, so unless the media has a direct line to SBY, no one has any information about the remission as of yet.

As for the "troublemaker" issue. I'm assuming that you are referring to Cindy Wokner's reporting on the cell phone incident. As I'm sure you are aware, the cell phone incident happened, oh, 3 YEARS ago or so. Didn't know that? Well how could you since it wasn't published in the article. And unless you closely followed the case, you wouldn't know. You see, Ms. Wockner has to pay her "sources" for her information just as any journalist trying to get info on Schapelle does. She needs to then write enough to make it worth her while. If there's not enough, she simply "borrows" from old stories. Pretty common tactic. Also keep in mind that the drug problem at Kerobokan is horrid even for prison standards yet Schapelle has never gotten involved with that yet she's tagged as a "troublemaker" for having a contraband cell phone? Interesting. No, Schapelle is quite the opposite of a troublemaker, she's a cash cow to that prison.

This also demonstrates why playing this out in the media is a dangerous game. It keeps Schapelle in the public consciousness, but you have no control over what is being said.

I don't subscribe to the theory that the Australian government is actively seeking to keep Schapelle incarcerated. Now have they done beyond the minimum to help her out? I haven't seen evidence of that.

Why is it bizarre that people would help someone they haven't met? You seem like a decent guy, don't you have causes that you are passionate about? It would be bizarre if I were spending all this time on someone I could care less about. I've traveled all over the world and have seen how easy it find yourself in a bad situation. As a traveler, Schapelle's case simply makes me angry because I have no doubts that she's a victim here. I can only hope that should I ever end up in a bad situation that I would have such a dedicated support group. Churlish? No. Compassionate. Yes.

Rob Baiton said...


You're welcome!

Nope, it does not beautifully illustrate your point unless you are wanting to make this a personal dig against me and raise questions regarding my intelligence or lack thereof.

Nothing about being easily misled by the media.

The prison did indeed recommend one month. This was reported in the media too, was it not? Perhaps I should not give this any weight considering everything about Schapelle Corby printed in the media is misleading and designed to undermine her cause, right?

What makes you think the media does not have a direct line to the president? Would this be an assumption on your part? There are leaks everywhere, some on purpose and some more along the lines of whistleblowing, but suffice to say the knowledge gets out there.

Nope, I was not referring to the Wockner article nor the mobile phone. This is the problem for Corby supporters, they get fixated on certain things and assume that everyone believes the same. If they do not then they turn on that person as a pack and seek to attack their credibility or just adopt pseudonyms and rant and rave.

Sad really.

Kay is right. No matter how hard you try and control the media you cannot possibly succeed. The Corbys are still to realize this. Their $campaign is failing miserably if the campaign is intended to see Schapelle released. The cold hard reality is that the girl remains in jail. And, what's more the prospects of release at this point in time seem distant.

It is bizarre that you think only supporters of Schapelle closely follow the case. Your assumptions are making a mockery of your arguments and your support. But, thank you! They serve to highlight that anyone who disagrees with a Corby supporter or has a divergent view is automatically ridiculed and derided.

Sad really. But, mostly it is just sad for Schapelle. As she languishes in a Balinese jail her supporters are more focused on trying to win moot arguments.

It is funny that you should mention Wockner having to pay her sources. Because if I am not mistaken New Idea pays their sources for Corby information and pays them quite well.

Well, at least the public is being told that Schapelle has never been involved in the horrid drug situation in Kerobokan, and good for her that she has not. It must be a real challenge considering the prevalence of drugs and other contraband. But, the fact that she is not involved is hardly definitive proof that she is not a drug smuggler of 4kgs+ of wacky weed into Bali, is it?

A cash cow? Are you suggesting that her family is participating in the corrupt practices that Bonella points out in her book?

No, no supporters do ascribe to the theory that the Australian government is willing to help out. The reason for this is simple, isn't it? It does not fit the arguments that supporters want to make. Perhaps a better question is, has assistance been offered and been refused by the family?

Not bizarre for wanting to help out. I referred to a deep connection. I was suggesting that it was bizarre that people such as your self would want to attack me personally by questioning my intelligence and suggesting that I lack compassion when you do not know me. Yet, you are willing to help out a stranger who you know equally little about (at least at the outset).

Any chance you have been misled by supporters of the family who have put into place an interesting and diverse (but very controlled) message where they attack and vilify anyone who posts something contrary to what the "official" line is?

Nefertari said...

Wow! Why suddenly so abusive Rob? I thought I was having an opened minded discussion. Apparently I was mistaken. You seem to be looking for ways to attack supporters.

I was in no way questioning your intelligence. I WAS POINTING OUT THAT YOU HAD SOME INTELLIGENCE!!!! Your post lead me to belive that you had taken some media stories at face value like most people would. And the FACT is that the media has made a habit of jumping the gun or just plain being printing bad information. It has happened time and time again with Schapelle. The FACT is that no one knows about the remission at this point.

And I brought up the mobile phone because that happened to be mentioned in the same article as the remmission. I didn't think it was that much of a leap to your trouble-maker comment. My bad.

And yes ALL journalists including New Idea have to pay for their stories. I didn't say otherwise.

And yes the Corbys have to play the money game with prison guards. Schapelle would be dead now if that weren't the case.

As I said, I thought I was having a civil discussion with an intelligent person, but you obviously completely misinterpreted my post.

You are looking for attacks were there are none Rob. Get over it already. I'm not going to waste my time here anymore.

Rob Baiton said...


Abusive? You would be struggling to point out anything that is abusive or crosses any line, arbitrary or not that you draw in the sand on this one.

My interpretation of your post was / is fair. Nope, no need for me to attack supporters. Although, I am pointing out that the support base could be much larger if the true supporters were a little more endearing to those who want to help but are non-plussed about guilt or innocence.

From your comments you clearly point to the fact that this is not possible because supporters have taken up the cause on the basis that Schapelle Corby is their flesh and blood, and therefore an attack on her is an attack on their respective families.

Nothing abusive in responding to that is there?

Take a look around, you will see nothing but open-minded discussion here. People are allowed to voice whatever opinions they hold. Even those that are critical of me. The open-minded discussion usually ceases because some people who claim that they are supporters do not want to engage on the substance.

And, if and when they do, they will not tolerate divergent opinions from their own. Nothing abusive about pointing that out, is there?

Leaps of faith happen all the time, sometimes you get it right and sometimes not. Not about whose bad it is though. But, that seems to be the way as there can only be right and wrong in any discussion related to Schapelle, right?

Anyone who reads, writes, or suggests something about Schapelle which is not what the supporters want to hear then it is a case of misreporting or jumping the gun. This is standard fare. Read through the comments over at the Tampoe thread.

On the journalists. Your points do seem to suggest that some journalists, Wockner in particular are less than capable in two respects, paying for her sources / stories and rehashing old ones. So, I think it is a fair comment on my part as to how I responded, seeing we are having an open-minded discussion.

It is interesting that you suggest that Corby would be dead if her family did not play the corruption game. Aren't the Corby family arguing that Schapelle will be dead anyway if she is not immediately repatriated? Isn't this a mental health / humanitarian claim? But, in any event by playing the corruption game are they not contributing to its continuing existence and by default making it a much more worthwhile scenario to keep Schapelle there?

Attacks that were not there? Ummmm?

BTW, I reread my response to you. There is nothing abusive in there.

If you consider it a waste, then so be it. Enjoy your new year.

Kay Danes said...

It's the melodrama of statements of her "dying" that don't ring true with people in general. Please don't take offence to that... it's just mainstream feedback. Even the psychiatrist did not say 'she's dying'. They said that she has a treatable illness. Part of the problem in handling this case is that there's been way too much melodrama! If people could learn to approach this with common sense then Schapelle wouldn't suffer half as much... she wouldn't continually be forced to ride a roller coaster of emotion.

Rob Baiton said...


It is a melodrama, and it is sad it many ways.

I often wonder now how many people out there in the real world would be supporters of a release and be part of a campaign for release if they were not force fed the melodrama.

I use myself for example here. I am just a regular Joe who had an interest in the case, primarily from its legal aspects (considering I have an interest in Indonesian law), but who was also supportive of the young woman being released. I truly believe that five years is more than enough time for the crime. In the grand scheme of things it makes no difference to me whether she did it or not.

However, I now find myself after the ridicule and derision heaped on me by supposed "true" supporters that I do not really see any way that I can contribute to the cause of seeing her released. So, rather than waste time pissing against a wall, I am more inclined to look at other worthy causes to throw my efforts into.

My guess is that there are probably quite a number of people out there in the real world just like me.

Yes, the young woman as a treatable mental illness. Even the good doctor Phillips agrees that it is treatable. He seems to think that the severity of her depression (or is it insanity) means that an intervention led by an Australian facility. The Indonesians, in contrast, think that they can take care of the treatment in house (locally).

Perhaps it is time that the misinformation that supporters 'truth' is put forward so that a resolution can be found.

I am still chuckling about the idea that I am abusive towards supporters of the girl. I think most supporters cannot deal with the fact that I am always polite and courteous to those who adopt a pseudonym or post under their real name. The nastiest I have been is to call an anonymous poster an internet troll.

In comparison to the names I have been called in the Corby related threads on my blog, then internet troll is pretty tame.

Happy New Year!

Kay Danes said...

i think that some supporters tend to push the 'us' and 'them' a little more often than not because they are safe in the knowledge of knowing what treatments are available in Australia. But they need to keep an open mind to the fact that there are some excellent doctors in Indonesia and excellent facilities too. This myth about it being a backward country with unskilled labour is just that, a myth. yes I would like to see Schapelle home in australia if that's what she wants, but it's not reasonable to automatically denigrate services that can be afforded to her in the interim, to ensure she remains in good mental health, just simply because 'they are not Australian services'. This is pretty much what the arguments translate too. Supporting her should encompass a willingness to embrace all avenues for treatment, as Dr. Philips proports, and those that are readily available... as opposed to throwing ones hands up and condemming professionals, who for the most part have earned their qualifications in the western world! More care too should be taken to shield Schapelle from all these highs and lows and feeding her head with fantasies about 'I'm gonna get you home by Xmas'. It's so soul destroying for a prisoner to be constantly in that state of mind... something no one can really grasp unless they've been in that situation. It really creates a great deal of anger. This is something that her family need to consider that one day they don't wake up, and she's bitter against their efforts, no matter how well intentioned. Resentment is just one of those emotions that come into play with long term internment.

Rob Baiton said...


Perhaps if you say it, then it might have a little more gravitas to it. Nevertheless, these are the sorts of things I have been suggesting from the outset.

Yet, I will always defer to your superior knowledge and experience on this front. I have read a little on the topic, but mainly I was arguing from what I see as a common sense perspective.

But, yes, I really do not see the point or the value in telling a prisoner sentenced to 20 years in jail that there is a real possibility of release before the time is served if there is not some degree of advanced negotiation to that effect. Simply, it would be cruel to tease that individual with the unrealistic prospect of release.

The whole thing is sometimes a little disheartening in the sense that there seems to be so many things that could be done, but are not being done (at least on the surface of what outsiders get to witness through the approved Corby channels).

Oh well.

Kay Danes said...

Usually it's unintentional. When Kerry and i were unlawfully detained in Laos, our lawyer told us (and our children) on 19 separate occasions that we were going to be released. The first time was on the first day we met and he said 'Kay, I'll have you out of here if not today, then definately tomorrow'. I sat waiting all that time for the guards to come and collect me. I was thinking of seeing my children again and as you can imagine, my hopes were high. When it became obvious that I wasn't going anywhere, it was devastating. I sat the whole weekend and into the next week waiting for that 15 min consular meeting on a thursday. Not entirely sure that we'd even get to meet our Embassy consul. Our lawyer was optimistic which is great, but to be told every meeting that you are going home and then you don't.... it's soul destroying. Of course, I can understand that it's a trap people fall into on the outside, because they want to help you so badly. But they don't realise the psychological trauma they put you through despite their good intentions. To deal with it, I closed off my mind to thinking of tomorrow and the next day and instead, I thought in mere minutes. Get through each one and then the next. This is pretty much some of the stuff I shared with Schapelle when I last visited her. It's important that when you are fighting for someone's release, that you make sure you take care of the psychological aspects. Otherwise, it becomes more difficult for the prisoner to cope with these interjections. Unfortunately people overlook these important things and it's not really their fault, it all comes from experience. They have to be open to recieve the information too but the difficulty there is that when families are wading through all this 'stuff'... some tend not to think strategically. Those who heed the advice and experience of others who have been through all this before, naturally have an easier time of it but it's still a horrific thing to go through.

These are the sort of things I discussed with Tampoe at the beginning. I wanted him to have some valuable insight.