[The Long Arm of the Law] our coverage of a new, high-profile program launched by the Bali police to eliminate bribes paid to traffic police elicited some spirited emails from readers with stories of past outrages suffered at the hands of Bali's traffic police.
· Ron, writing from Australia, said:
"Thank God something is being done. February, the last time we were there, my partner and I where stopped, taken into the small room at the lights and told we had to pay Rp. 300,000 because we rolled over the white line at the traffic lights while it was still red. There where about 20 other locals going through. Not understanding what to do, we paid. Needless to say, it left us with a bad taste in our mouths and pocket. The next time, we will just tell them to give us a ticket"
· Carol Bailey wrote:
"How nice of them to pass the blame for bribery onto the foreigners!"
Having lived in Indonesia & Bali a very long time, we know of the need to have a local driver's license even on a motor bike. An international license is not acceptable - at least not to the traffic police. Unfortunately, most tourists arrive in Bali ignorant of this fact and remain so even after hiring a bike or car for the duration. And don't the police know it! They look positively gleeful as they see the white faces approach their designated spots at the traffic lights in anticipation of the easy sum about to be made."
We recently stayed in Bali with 20 crew of small yachts on a round the world rally. Almost without exception, they hired transport and paid out hefty sums in fees DAILY! Police told them that there was no other way to pay the fine than on the spot. There were several other encounters with police, including one crew having to pay Rp 10 million to avoid a spell in jail. These experiences have disappointed these people so much that most left in a hurry, swore never to come back and to advise everyone they knew to do the same."
"We should be grateful the police are taking action, but with this 'blame us' attitude they are not dealing with the root cause of the problem; corrupt individuals who do not care about Bali's tourist industry other than as a nice form of parallel income. Far better for the tourist would be to establish an independent branch of tourist police who can be called as needed to explain the real laws, mediate, work to ensure laws are explained before arrival and perhaps even be charged to support the tourist industry better."
"And if the police reasoning is correct, then why are so many local bikers also stopped and fined for the reason of the day?"
· Michael Edwards pf Australia contributed:
"Our last visit to Bali, February 2011, we encountered this very situation. At the time we were not wearing the correct helmet, the type we had were for bicycles. The traffic officer pulled us over and requested us to follow him back to the booth on the corner of Jalan Ganung Tangkuban Perahu and Jalan Raya Kerobakan. We did not make a request to have the fine fast tracked, instead we were presented with a list of traffic offences and what it was going to cost us."
"Not wearing a helmet was Rp. 350,000, no registration was Rp. 6000,000, red light was Rp. 500,000 . . .the list went on and on. This was not an official document, but a made up menu to present to foreigners with rupiahs in their pocket."
Previously we had been informed that Rp. 50,000 was the agreed amount to bribe a traffic officer. On this occasion it cost us Rp. 350,000, 3 days later the wheel of my bike went across the line, so I went through a red light, that cost me Rp. 500,000, then again 4 days later closer to Kuta at a traffic check point Rp.20,000 was asked as a donation for a drink."
"I am very pleased to hear about efforts to stop this offensive practice by corrupt traffic officers. The bribe money extracted from us last trip was more like organized crime than bribery, so thank you Bima Aria Viyasa for your initiative to stamp this dishonest practice."
[Bali Agriculture at the Crossroads] – a provocative article based on comments from Hira Jhamtami of the Third World Networkin Nusa Dua:
· Caused Kamlesh Chanfail to say:
"Bali's Farming is one of the most attractive features of the island's tourism. No one can imagine Bali without its agricultural background. Without agricultural richness Bali will loose its great attraction. I know what I am talking about. I was busy in Bali making table wine for Indowine until 2004. I hope the Agriculture can stay the same as it is, because one day I want to come back to Bali and make wine again.
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