No Excuses

If only part of what is reported in relation to lax security at the Port of Gilimanuk is true, it is a damning indictment of the lackadaisical approach to any official endeavour that is daily demonstrated in Bali and elsewhere in Indonesia. Police routinely ignore blatant – and deadly dangerous – road behaviour. People customarily flout building regulations with impunity. Malfeasance is winked at. Governments (at all levels) simply do not do their jobs. Bureaucracy works by greased palm, not by strict application of defined and rigidly enforced rules.

Security is of the utmost importance. Not only does it (or should it) make it very difficult for terrorists to operate, but it also underpins continued essential confidence among our visitors that yes, indeed, the authorities here are serious about their safety.

We constantly hear judges in drug trials railing at defendants over the damage they have done to Bali’s tourism reputation, and reinforcing this (trite and vacuously self-serving) view of the imperatives that should govern the judiciary’s presumptions by handing out retributive rather than corrected sentences. Yet at the real front line, the entry points, Rafferty’s rules are apparently preferred.

As our columnist Novar Caine notes on Page 9, in relation to Gayus Tambunan, National Disgrace, actual official interest in pursuing anything other than the next convenient donation, to augment allegedly seriously deficient salaries, is notable mostly for its absence. Pay rates are an issue. It would be far better, certainly, to budget for significant pay rises for public officials than to outlay sickening sums for a new chat room for national legislators.

But there can be no excuses where security is concerned. It is not something that can operate on a nine-to-five basis, or on the theory that those charged with ensuring security will (might) do the job if they can be bothered, or feel like summoning the energy to actually work.

Indonesia often gets a bad press – sometimes this is unfairly – for perceived default in administration or in provision of public services. Our leaders in Jakarta – and at Renon – might usefully ponder this point, and resolve that whatever else might not work here, security certainly must.

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