By Budi Prakosa
May 23, 2006, 06:44
Fancy going scuba diving in Bali or Indonesia? Spare a thought for Jean-Paul Blancan and Fred Dobberphul, two experienced European divers lawfully hired by dive salvage company PT Paradigma / PT PPS who were granted all the required licenses from the Indonesian authorities (from at least 11 Indonesian agencies including the all important Agency for the Protection of Underwater Heritage who coordinates the licensing of salvage operations gaining all the necessary permits from all the appropriate ministries). What were they arrested for? Why, they were arrested for salvaging the very same 10th Century wreck the company they worked for was fully licensed to salvage. But in a too typical and frequent example of how the secular mafia police of Indonesia act against innocent people and never, ever admit making a “mistake”, deputy national police spokesman Anton Bachrul Alam said the pair were arrested for, wait for this, “illegally salvaging their find because Blancan / Dobberpaul don't have licenses to do that, only PT Paradigma does!”. Of course how a company rather than the people it lawfully employs somehow can excavate subterranean items seems lost in the official explanation and subsequent prosecution! That’s right, prosecution.
This brings us to one of the most worrying factors for investors in and visitors to Indonesia; the police will see whatever they start to the end no matter what; and what they start is too often if not always because of corruption. This ideology is total, across the entire Indonesian police force it seems. It does not matter how unlawfully they act, the Indonesian police absolutely will not be criticized or proven wrong. In many, if not most or even all cases where a victim fights back with their legal rights, the police simply make matters worse for that person; this case is the perfect example of the simple worrying and very nasty fact that Indonesian police are both a law unto themselves and above the law. Their historic allegiances to the dictator, the upper class and the judiciary which gave birth to the term “KKN” (korupsi, kolusi, nepotisme) lives on and ensures they do what they want, when they want and can see the thing to an ever increasingly unlawful end. Let us illustrate to you why this is the perfect example.
You see, salvage companies have to evenly split their find with the Indonesian government, the "government" can mean anything of course in a country riddled with probably the worst corruption in the world. So if another, competitive salvage company were to get wind of a major find and through jealous and greed collude with their contacts within the police and give them “legal cause” in a complaint that the salvage was illegal, then they might be able to muscle in, take the find and line the pockets of their pet friends in brown uniforms. So is it any coincidence that rival salvage company PT Tuban Oceanic Research and Recovery (TORR), upon hearing of the find and commencement of the salvage work made a police complaint that the salvage was illegal a few days before! Trust us on this, to coin a popular western TV phrase, “I’ve started so I’ll finish”, the police now have committed to their underhand acts so they will, absolutely, see the matter to its nasty end, no matter how ludicrous their position. It seems, in typically nasty Indonesian business fashion, TORR had lawyers submit legal reasoning to the police to substantiate cause for “investigation”. That reasoning was cited as the 1992 Indonesian law on cultural heritage even though this law was superseded by a 2000 presidential decree regarding treasure-hunting. Although the police have been duly informed of this and although the excavated treasure is at risk because it is not being stored at all well, everyone outside the police and TORR it seems are crying ”foul, let the divers go and allow the company the company to get on with their lawful excavation”, the police ignore reality and they have started so…..
Adding credence to the theory and belief that TORR have negotiated a deal with the local police to take over and split the proceeds from the wreck comes from a briefly appearing auction invitation for items possibly or even likely to have come from this wreck on a Malaysian wreck item auction web site. The feature appeared it seems too long after the original wreck excavators were forced to stop their work but not so long after the police confiscated the items taken from the wreck to indicate it was TORR and the police who planning to sell the items! Of course the police will deny everything, as they always do. Of course the police will continue their prosecution with their pet corrupt colluding prosecutors and judges as they always do. Worryingly, the police may well make sure these glaringly innocent men are convicted to justify their investigation in the first place and to warn other people outside the upper KKN circuit; “Don’t mess with the Indonesian police unless you want to go to jail. If we want what you have, we will take what you have. If you stand up for your legal rights, we will put you in jail”.
Scuba divers coming to Indonesia to spend their money have long supported the archipelago's economy and significantly so, even when regular tourism has all but deserted the country because of terrorist attacks made under the noses of police officers apparently too lazy and corrupt to actually do the job they are (officially) paid to do. But now it is clear no-one is safe from possibly the most bent cops in the world and their disgusting methods. So now these two European divers can not dive (unless the Jakarta sewers hold some interest) as they have to spend all their time in Jakarta. Eventually the case will or won’t go to court, but no matter what happens, these divers will likely never be compensated for their loss of liberty and other rights as the police action constitutes civil, not human rights abuse. Of course, it can get worse for scuba divers Jean-Paul Blancan and Fred Dobberphul, the prosecutors and judges may be told by the police to jail them for 10 years. Mr. Blancan contracted typhoid and dengue fever while he was in jail for just a few days before being released on bail after diplomatic pressure, yet said the worst part was being locked up while he knew he was innocent; just think how bad it would be for them if they were unlawfully jailed for 120 months in characteristic Indonesian fashion.
Foreign scuba divers working in, currently diving in or thinking about diving in Bali / Indonesia. We ask if you can’t boycott Bali / Indonesia for the sake of what is right, then boycott Bali scuba diving / Indonesia scuba diving because as this and so many other examples show it could be you next simply because someone has a vendetta against you, a police contact and Indonesian KKN mentality. If scuba divers go to Bali and Indonesia, they will effectively be endorsing the actions of the government which basically is too weak and / or too corrupt themselves to stop this state nastiness. The dive sites around Bali, Sulawesi and Komodo Indonesia may be tempting, but remember other divers afflicted by the Indonesian mafia police and also consider what if it is your turn next? Please, show some class, decency and sense; boycott Bali until Indonesia apologizes for this Neanderthal act and fully compensates both the divers and their employers for what these thieving monkeys in uniform have done. If you think the term "monkeys" is racial, trust us, it is only levied at the Indonesian police. And if you think even calling them monkeys is inappropriate, take a look at the picture of police spokesman Anton Bachrul Alam above who is an Indonesian Brigadier General and then do a search for "Brigadier General" on Google's image search and then tell us we are wrong.