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Immigration Responds to Japanese Complaints

Chief of Bali's Airport Immigration Office Asks Public's Help in Stopping Illegal Practices by His Staff.

(3/6/2005) Complaints that Japanese tourists are being victimized at Bali's Airport by Immigration officials who demand funds when finding their visa-on-arrival has not been stamped, were recently leveled in a letter to the Immigration Office by Noburo Nomaru, Japan's Consul General in Bali, and repeated again by members of the Japanese press during a press conference in Osaka, Japan attended by the Chief of the Bali Tourism Authority. Gede Nurjaya.

Returning to Bali on February 21, 2005, Nurjaya raised the complaint, saying "I have no intention of holding anyone to blame, including immigration officials. However, because the complaint is part of a formal complaint by the Japanese Consul General he called on all concerned to provide a formal response."

As reported in the Indonesian-language Bali Post, the Head of Immigration at Bali's Ngurah Rai International Airport, Mohammad Zaelani, has now sent an official letter to Japanese Consul General suggesting steps to resolve the issue.

Zaelani admitted that his staff may fail to put the mandatory stamp on a visa on arrival whether as a simple oversight or due to the very heavy work loads imposed on them during periods of heavy influx of tourists. According to Zaelani, if a tourist or tour leader discovers an "unchopped" visa, they only have to return to the immigration counter or the head of immigration to request the stamp. "It's not a problem," he said in Tuban, Bali, on February 22, 2005, "They will be given the stamp and will not be subject to any fine."

Firm Action Against Errant Officers Promised

In response to specific complaints of extortion by immigration officials, Zaelani asked the public to make a note of the official's name or description, the time of the occurrence and the amount of money paid and then submitting the report immediately to Head of Immigration at Ngurah Rai. Without detailed information, it is impossible to implicate specific officers. Howver, a clear report will be always be followed up, the Immigration official promised.

Zaelani backed up his promise by assuring the press that those implicated in the incident reported to him by the Japanese Consul are now stern facing punishment and administrative review.