Saturday, 2 May 2009

Bali SOS – Screw other's souls?

Bali SOS – Screw other's souls?
By Bali BS News
Aug 31, 2005, 02:12

Recently we featured the sad and very nasty story of Bali’s police acting unlawfully (as if they knew any other way) against Candi Internet at the seemingly clear bequest of a competitor in order to have Candi closed down (read: Bali Wifi Police Corruption report). But, as we pointed out then, calling them Candi Internet dehumanizes the reality of the nasty work of corrupt police and their accomplices in the judiciary (equally bent prosecutors and judges who collude with the police). It was the story of one Harry Bleckert, now penniless, his Balinese wife Sang Ayu, in jail unlawfully and indefinitely, and their young daughter Merry, forced to live with her grandparents in Germany for fears over her father’s safety as he remained in Bali to try and fight the corrupt officers who put him out of business and locked his wife up when he made a corruption complaint.

But there is more to this story than that; Harry Bleckert not only married a Balinese girl and lived on the island, but after the October 2002 terrorist bombing, he devoted most of his time, efforts and even money into trying to help Bali, unlike most others who only seek to help themselves, by founding the Bali SOS network to promote and coordinate efforts for those physically and otherwise affected by the terrorist bombings of October 2002. Harry even assumed a Balinese name, Made Sambu. Everyone thanked him of course. Everyone called him a “Hero of Bali”. But where were these people when Harry and his family needed some help in return?

Harry ran an Internet Café business and with the rise in Internet use, supposed liberalization and opportunities in Indonesia, he decided to invest all of his money into offering a WiFi service in Bali. He negotiated a franchise with a large licensed ISP in Jakarta, and started setting up his infrastructure. He attended all the meetings regarding Internet access held by people like PostTel. Harry was very careful to do everything properly, including the provisions of his trading licenses. Two days before Harry was to launch, his business was closed down (equipment confiscated) by police officers without warrants to do this. Since then, the so called Indonesian Commission for Corruption Reduction has agreed the police officers involved should be investigated. So the police rewarded Harry for his stand up morals by throwing his wife, Sang Ayu, in jail.

OK, the point to this story is that “everyone” in Bali knew what was happening to Harry. People he dealt with through Bali SOS, local businessmen and village leaders, the many business contacts he had established with his long awaited Bali WiFi service. But, when Harry asked everyone by email to come and support him and his poor wife, unlawfully thrown in jail, outside court, no-one except his very close friends and his wife’s family bothered to show up. In fact, they were outnumbered by journalists there for a story. When a man who loved and supported Bali so much needed a little back, he got diddly squat back from them. Not that we think it will make any difference, but we say Bali should now be holding its head in shame.

To a lesser degree, the story of Mark Austin also illustrates what the real Bali is actually like, or rather about. We are running a series of stories about the company who have abused the corrupt Balinese police authority against him to settle a grudge (see: Bali Discovery Tours report). Despite the fact wealthy entrepreneur Mark Austin offered and gave suffering hotel staff families his travel company’s profits and also organized free hotel rooms for victims and their close friends & families of the Bali bombings, this counted for nothing with the Balinese police or the Bali travel community when the police started their unlawful investigations against him. Unlike Harry Bleckert though, Mark Austin is a little more direct and a lot less forgiving in nature. His response was quoted as being “The Balinese are getting raped every day and yet still do nothing about it; their loss yet again!” making apparent reference to the fact he was in the throws of both setting up a small International IT outsourcing services operation in Bali and arranging for PC training sponsorships for the poorer north coast area of the island. That, we understand meant that an initial 6 valuable jobs in the IT services market never came to Bali and around 20 young beneficiaries of PC skills training were never given a better chance in life.

It gets worse when you hear about the nasty, calculating, self-interest, back-stabbing falsehoods that prevail in Bali (see our report: Ixora Villas Bali). Not only did Harry Bleckert get short changed on compassion, he also found out that people in Bali were quite happy to put the boot in when you are down. But it was not just the very nasty Julia of Ixora Villas and her circle of “friends” that were demeaning Mr. Bleckert and family for the sake of business as they perceive it. Poor Harry Bleckert was told by a friend of his still in Bali that yet another of his friends was now publicly deriding Harry for leaving Bali and his wife in jail without any money, and that his “friend” was claiming to be visiting Sang Ayu in jail every day in Harry’s place. The problem is Harry knows from his wife’s family this so called friend has only visited his wife twice in as many months, and also Harry left every penny he had remaining in Bali for his wife when he was forced to leave because the police wanted to arrest him for reporting them to the Indonesian Corruption Commission. That is how nasty so many business people in Bali really are; even or perhaps especially people who are meant to be friends. Welcome to Bali!

It reminds us of the story of another German, William Baumann, who had problems in Bali apparently at the hands of a so called friend and business acquaintance. Because the identity of the perpetrator of William’s woes is only believed, no evidence or verbal confirmation ever received, we can not name that “friend”. But someone with intimate knowledge of William’s position clearly reported him to Immigration, who then deported him. You see William worked for a hotel in Tanjung Benoa as their marketing director. He and his German wife had only just given birth to their first child, a baby girl. Foolishly, partly because of the birth, William allowed his work permit to expire and instead used a visitor’s visa to illegally work in Bali, as so many people do. Even more foolishly, his wife confided this to her best friend, the wife of William’s own friend who worked in a similar capacity for a nearby competitor. A few days after this confidential information was passed from friend to friend, the Indonesian Immigration service swept into the hotel and went straight to poor William.

William is sure the only two people who new about his visa situation were his employer, who clearly had no motivation to risk prosecution himself, and his friends. William was lucky in some ways that it was the Immigration service which came, not the police. Had it been the police, William probably would know the identity of the informant but would likely have been required to part with a sizeable amount of police extortion money, which he did not have, or spend his time in jail until he was deported. As it happens, the Immigration officers were very gracious and gave him one week to pack everything, sell his furniture, motorbike, etc., and leave Bali; which the police most certainly would not have done.

In conclusion and to be fair to the everyday working Balinese, most probably do care about others, but are hardly in a position to do or count for anything from the wrong side of the great wealth and power divide that exists in Bali. It is perhaps a large majority of the Balinese business people and public servants[sic] who really do not or dare not care about others, and even care so little that they are quite happy to maliciously act against others. Unfortunately it seems the public smiling face of the regular Balinese which gets the money trees to come in the first place is exploited and betrayed by the people that actually count; the ones that take the money and have the power.

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