Bali’s Shameful Secret – The “art” of hidden crimes.
By Bali BS News
Oct 12, 2005, 07:51
People may legitimately ask why, if Bali and Indonesia are so corrupt and have so much crime, why do they never seem to hear that much about it. Of course the “sell sell pundits” of Bali seize upon this and misrepresent the reasons just as much as they do when they claim terrorist attacks can happen anywhere in the world, thus falsely presenting Indonesia’s too often bent security personnel as capable as their western counterparts, when clearly they are not.
The reasons why news and the effects of corruption and crime in Bali and Indonesia do not come to attention of or get properly considered by westerners are fairly simple. First, most casual visitors to Bali associate the term “corruption” as being a small unofficial fines levied by sweaty grinning policemen on traffic duty. Something that does not cost a lot and they can afford easily. Something even worth the price to be able to joke about with other tourists; “Yeh, I got done for 50,000 rups for overtaking a parked car”. Therefore, when westerners hear the term corruption in regards to Bali, it does not figure in their mind as something serious as the act has been trivialized. But bent traffic duty cops are at the bottom of the extortion ladder. The corrupt senior police officers are into big money extortions and ruining innocent people’s lives.
Another reason is that Indonesia seems to have an arrest and conviction rate roughly in keeping with a legitimate police and judiciary. The problem being, it is almost certain many if not the vast majority of those imprisoned are victims, not criminals. When you look at how the Balinese police botched the investigation into Schapelle Corby, when practically every officer involved and his friends all handled the bags of drugs so as to destroy any fingerprint evidence, you see how the police are unable to conduct proper investigations which can be relied upon. When you see how Indonesia’s judicial system works, through collusion with prosecutors and police, without independent watch dogs, without even juries, where judges are renowned for demanding money. You get a very clear picture that the people in jail are the ones who can not afford bribes, who have made enemies of the authorities or are unfortunately too high profile in the media to be able to pay their way completely out of trouble. When you realize that foreign lawyers are prohibited from practicing in Indonesia and where foreign law firms stay out of criminal law there because the corruption would violate their code of ethics. When you see how the Indonesian police need foreign police officers to actually track down the perpetrators of terrorist attacks as they are clearly not capable themselves, it becomes abundantly clear that is must be virtually impossible for anything but a small minority of Indonesia’s prisoners to be there for the right reasons.
When we read foreign journalists condoning the Indonesian legal system as one that “works”, we wonder whether they have an ulterior motive to utter such nonsense. The Indonesian legal system does not work, it simply functions and for the benefit of those with power. Recent examples of how prominent Suharto family members and friends received light sentences for murder, which were then subsequently reduced further, plus reports they never went to jail in the first place as they spent all their time under doctor’s orders outside of prison, show the system does not work. It does not work for the prosperity of everyday people of Indonesia and Bali either. It is a clear fact that using formulae and statistics from the IMF and Transparency International that if Indonesia were to rid itself of its corrupt legal system, the people of Indonesia would almost certainly enjoy western standards of living in just 10 years (see our article: Indonesian Corruption).
The reason westerners do not get to hear about summary exjudicial murders and other heinous acts against their fellow men comes down to 3 main reasons. First Balinese close knit communities do not readily let news of crimes come out of from their villages. Villages that are policed not by police officers, but by murderous vigilantes called “pecalangan”, appointed by police officers; no doubt so the police have more time for extortion. An excellent and very sad, shocking article describing the summary unlawful execution of two young boys suspected of burglary by such vigilantes and also confirming this fact that news of crime does not travel out of Balinese villages can be found here: pecalangan.
The second reason is that the people of Indonesia quite rightly do not trust the police, so they do not report crimes to them. The old Indonesian saying about reporting a stolen chicken to the police will result in the police stealing your cow is widely used and all telling. The last reason is that extortion / corruption generally leaves its victims unable or unwilling to report or make known they have been made victims by Bali’s corrupt mafia style police officers. We know of many cases of police extortion where the victims refuse to talk about it because they know what will happen to them. We even know of one poor and clearly very sick man who had a large sum of money extorted from him by Bali’s police after spending 5 nights in jail, he died a few days after paying the police off.
People with power can also control their victims through Bali’s nasty police system. We had one clearly genuine person who we were able to ascertain they were who they said they were, providing us with details about the very nasty acts of one Melody Kariarta who owns “Venue @ The Moon” restaurant in Kerobokan Bali, a cargo business called “Bali Experience” and a real estate company called "Heaven on Earth”, who is apparently married to Bali’s chief legislator, Wayan Kariarta. They provided us with detailed accounts of how Melody cheats her staff and customers, but then subsequently asked us not to publish the details as they had been made aware Mrs. Kariarta was watching them and was well able and prepared to make them suffer through a certain government agency. Melody’s victim therefore then asked us not to publish anything but the most basic details, so they could not be identified. And that is the problem, the victims are too often the weak and susceptible, so they are kept quiet in addition to being abused.
That is why the legal system does not work in Indonesia and why westerners seldom get to hear about the awful things that go on in their so called “Island Paradise”, because of fear. If you go to Bali, the chances are you will greatly support more the people that you never see and never want to meet then you do the charming smiling Balinese people who draw you to their island in the first place. To the people that claim Indonesian justice works, we say you are as guilty as the police and vigilantes and others who routinely commit crimes with impunity. To potential visitors to and investors in Bali, unless you vote against such human rights abuse and oppression with your absence, until the Indonesian government effect real corruption eradication, you too are just as guilty in your own way. These two young boys murdered by the system in Bali are not alone; we are just fortunate, as the author states, to be made aware of this instance due to the culture of Bali.