An incident at Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport involving a Hollywood leading man has caused a media brouhaha stretching from Indonesia to the Late Night Show with David Letterman on American TV.
30-year old Hollywood heartthrob Taylor Kitsch shared a story of a run-in with foreign immigration officials, incorrectly portrayed by Letterman as having occurred in the Philippines.
The story, as told by the Friday Night Lights star, related how an immigration officer allegedly requested Kitsch’s hand phone as a bribe when it was discovered the actor had less than the required two empty pages for landing and visa stamps remaining in his passport
Philippine authorities, unhappy with the impression left by Letterman that authorities there had extended a less than totally cordial welcome to Kitsch, quickly checked their computer system that showed no signs of a recent visit by the Canadian actor.
In fact, protest and further enquiries later confirmed that Kitsch had just visited Bali, Indonesia where he had filmed a role in the Oliver Stone “Savages.”
The story told by Kitsch related was that while trying to impress an immigration officer preparing to deport him with film clips from his latest feature film shown on his smart phone, the immigration officer was apparently more impressed with his iPhone and, it is alleged, suggesed the phone would be a nice gift from the actor to give to the civil servant.
To their credit, immigration officers in Bali immediately traced the incident back to the specific officer on duty when Kitsch landed on February 1, 2012. That officer, placed on leave while under administrative review by immigration authorities, apparently bent the rules on empty pages and did allow the actor into the country and did so, it seems, without Kitsch having to surrender his phone.
While the incident has hit a familiar chord with Bali travel operators who have experienced similar-sounding incidents in the past involving passengers who arrive with less than two empty pages; less than 6 months remaining validity on their passport; or are unable to show a return ticket – all requirements for tourism visitors seeking a visa-on-arrival upon landing in Indonesia.
That Kitsch managed to be admitted into Bali despite his lack of empty pages indicates some accommodation was made to a rule that immigration officials generally depict as an absolute point of law for a foreigner wishing to visit Indonesia.
Meanwhile, immigration officials are insisting that their man, identified only by the initials RE, was guilty of little more than a miscommunication with the young actor.
While immigration officers are deliberating whether or not RE should be punished further in the case, senior officials are reminding immigration officials to avoid light-hearted chitchat with arriving tourist, keeping communication strictly business-like to avoid the potential for any "similar" misunderstandings in the future.
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