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A Legal Cover-up

Police Giving Verbal Reprimands and Free Shirts to Shirtless Foreign Tourists in Bali on Motorcycles.

(4/2/2011) Bali's traffic police are intensifying their efforts to bring some order to Bali's road system. Following the posting of large banners discouraging tourists from bribing the police [See: The Long Arm of the Law] police are now turning their attention to foreign tourist riding motorcycles without shirts or certified helmets.

The head of the traffic division at the Denpasar police precinct, Bima Arya Viyasa, has established traffic checkpoints in various locations, primarily in Kuta. Motorcyclists who were recently pulled over on Jalan Pantai Kuta and Jalan Mahendradata were politely reminded of the legal requirements to wear a helmet and the benefits of extra protection provided by being fully clothed. Police were also taking the extraordinary step of giving away shirts to drivers who left home without one in order to make sure they "cover up."

Viyasa told Bali Post how his officers are checking vehicles and drivers for proper licenses and registration while, at the same time, issuing reminders to wear shirts. Said Viyasa: "We are doing this in order that tourists show good manners when driving their motorcycles. Many motorcyclists don't wear shirts when they are on the road."

While shirtless vehicle drivers got off with a warning, those unable to show proper paperwork are ticketed.

A spot check of a check point on Jalan Kuta showed 24 tickets were issued. 15 drivers were cited for not having a driver's license; 7 for not having proper registration; and 2 cited for other offenses. Of the 24 people receiving ticket, 11 were foreign nationals.

Returning to the subject of shirtless drivers, Viyasa added: "We are bringing into line foreigners driving without a shirt because they appear to be bad mannered. This is also for their protection. If they have an accident their bodies will be injured (because of the lack of a shirt). By wearing a shirt they are afforded at least a little protection."