Bali’s Saboteurs

Amid seemingly unending local and international crises that continually threaten Bali’s main industry of tourism, that sector has nonetheless remained robust. Yet despite all the swirling negative news worrying travellers’ minds, there is a group of people in Bali that give the island bad international press time and again.

We speak primarily of officials working in Bali’s emergency services who are causing this harm to the island: low-level employees who seek to enrich themselves during holidaying foreigners’ times of urgent need.

It was distressing to learn that Bali’s free ambulance service attempted to extract earlier this month around Rp4 million from the girlfriend of a dying New Zealand man when she phoned for assistance.

Not having the cash on her, no ambulance arrived and the man died from injuries sustained in a bar brawl in Legian. The grieving young woman has since related the extortion-effort story to media in her home country, creating a dismal and antithesis-laden picture of a heartless Bali.

It matters not that the ambulance chiefs insisted their service comes at no cost to anyone; clearly someone usurped them.

Last week this newspaper was contacted by an alarmed mother in the United States whose son was involved in an early morning hit-and-run in Denpasar. She wanted to know why police on this island were asking for US$100 to file a report on the accident.

There are many more tales of this nature, and they extend to officials working in many more departments, some located within the international terminal of Bali’s airport.

We are all too aware that, shamefully, public servants are badly paid and look for any opportunity to boost their incomes, and that for them there’s a general “dollar-sign” air about foreigners. But what some among their ranks are doing is deplorable and injurious to all who work in Bali’s tourism industry that keeps a substantial part of the local population in employment.

Any local officials dealing with foreigners or who have the likelihood of encountering them, such as emergency-services staff, should be professionally trained to respect them as they would their own people, and to expedite what is being sought. This contemptible rip-off has got to stop.

With no real international promotions to entice people to Bali – at least not on the scale of those operated by Malaysia and India, for example – returning tourists’ related tales are what generate the exotic aura and desire to visit.

If Bali’s tourism leaders want that valuable public relations benefit to persist, they had better start talking to those below them.

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3 Responses to “Bali’s Saboteurs”

  1. Indiana Says:

    Sadly the only way for the corruption to actually stop would be for ALL tourists to not come to the island. Though this would hurt more than just the corrupt, only by ignoring Bali as a destination will tourists be able to assert any power over the situation.

    For as long as I have visited Bali, corruption has gone hand in hand with the visit. Corrupt Javanese officials wanting something for nothing, and lording it over not only the Balinese but the tourists, just as Muslim Indo lords it over Hindu Bali.

    Perhaps Bali should seek its independence from Indonesia, clean up its own corruption and then encourage the tourists that things have changed.

  2. Wayan Says:

    Whilst I deplore the amount of “Petty” corruption dished out to some tourists, and I agree whole heartedly that “Corruption” at any level within Indonesia should be stopped (however hard and whatever meathod they need to do this)

    I also feel that we need to educate the tourists more. They should not feel (as many do) that they can come to Bali and get away with breaking the rules by paying a “small amount” to the officials/police or any other person in authority, who are happy to take it.

    If they are stopped for instance for not wearing a crash helmet and for not having the appropriate driving licence, they have broken the rules and should accept the concequences of their actions, (as they would most likely have to do in their own country)and refuse to pay the “Local Fine” then this form of corruption will eventually stop.

    I have lived in Bali now for a long time and although I have been stopped; and asked many times, and had visits from certain members of certain groups (local and national)demanding payments for something outside of the norm I have never had to pay anyone any form of “Fine, Donation or Fee to make something better” mostly because I try never do anything wrong and everything I have in order to live work and play here is in order.

    I have needed the services of an Ambulance twice recently and have never been asked for any form of pre payment (that doesn’t meant to say it doesn’t happen as it obviously does) but the occurance is probably not as widespread as believed. I have had to fill in police reports with no mention of “small donation” to make the report quicker, I know it does happen, but all you have to do is argue and make a report about the asking, and it will go away.

    In my experience there are many tourists that come here with everything in order and never have to pay anything, it is usually the one’s who have done something wrong, or don’t have everything in order, who experience the dark side of officialdom and try to make everything right by making a “Small Donation”

    So yes let’s get the “Corruption” stopped, and let’s help by educating the tourists as well, not keeping them away.

  3. Peter Says:

    Let’s see if I get this straight……Tourists want rock bottom prices and zero corruption? That’s laughable and any intelligent person knows it.

    The drunken New Zealander who ultimately died started his own demise by throwing a beer mug at a security guard and the guard fired it back, as he should have.

    Keep drunken criminals out of Bali to start….if not lock them up in prison until they learn lawful behavior.

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