Bye Bali – Welcome to East Timor, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.
By Bali BS News
Dec 23, 2005, 08:34
Isn’t it a fact the sole tourism commodity on Bali is its people? Wherever else in the region you look you seem to find better food, less corruption, better beaches, lower prices, lower crime rates, better quality, less anti-western sentiment, less terrorism and fewer health risks (because other countries / governments act, not shake down, prattle and roll over to lie)? We took a look at some of Indonesia’s neighbours, what they do and offer both investors and tourists, and came up with the conclusion; “If it were not for the Balinese people and lemming like tourists, no-one would go on holiday to or invest in Bali, period”. And when you look at the real unseen risks inherent with one of the world’s ugliest nations, westerner wise, it begs the question “Are the Balinese reason enough, or do they need to make some urgent, drastic changes?”
Bali / Indonesia – The Pitfalls
1) The world’s most corrupt police and judiciary committing and responsible for wholesale civil and human rights abuses, including ex-judicial murders.
2) Anti-western sentiment to the extent the Indonesian Government has failed to outlaw the Bali bombers organization, Jemaah Islamiah. Anti-western meetings and protests, especially in neighboring Java are very common place. Indonesian web sites describing how to kill foreigners are allowed to spread their messages of hate and worse for days without intervention.
3) Completely ineffective security / policing to the extent they failed to stop the October 2005 bombers when their own president warned of an impending terrorist attack and where the Indonesian police took a whopping 3 years to finally track down one of the 2002 terrorists in Indonesia even though he was not even Indonesian!
4) Government ministers and officials lie constantly about health issues such as avian flu and what they are doing about it. Indonesia blatantly lied about not having H5N1 and lie about the extent of the infections in Indonesia, as they lie about many health and other important issues.
5) Police officers are known to work with drug pushers to entrap foreign buyers. The cost for a foreigner to bribe their way out of trouble with the Balinese police over minor drugs possession is around US$45,000.
6) Police so badly trained and motivated they have to get foreign police officers in to do the job for them, conduct investigations so poorly that evidence becomes severely compromised, and delegate local policing duties to murderous vigilantes.
7) Do not allow foreigners to own land, so foreigner villa owners have to trust locals to own the land for them. Foreigners who buy land often find the trees then removed by the previous owner thus causing severe land erosion and land value devaluation.
8) Building permits for many areas are not possible, yet foreigners are lied to and told they are. Beachfront land is openly and aggressively sold for development even though now the 100 meter rule (no walled buildings within 100 meters of the high tide mark) is now vigorously enforced around the island. Foreigners told to buy land and then apply for permits. Some permits available on the black market at extortionate prices from bent building office officials.
9) Foreigners building villas can not easily obtain operational permits. Process requires either foreigners to have Balinese trustees set up small private company (has to be 100% Indonesian owned) or to set up highly expensive public companies.
10) Many foreigners therefore build private residences on land owned by Balinese “name givers” and then rent their properties out to tourists illegally. This was tolerated or most likely overlooked in the past but Bali’s luxury hotel owners and some trade unions want to close these illegal villas down as they take profits away from Indonesian businesses; note they want them closed down, not helped made legal. Illegal foreign owned villas operate at an unfair advantage to legal villas as they do not pay taxes, fees, etc.
11) Getting work permits / residencies is difficult. E.g. even if a foreigner has been daft enough to spend the money building a fully legal villa run by a public company they formed which they have a majority of the voting shares (foreigners can not own the majority of the ownership shares), even this does not qualify them for a residency or work permit unlike in other countries nearby!
12) Indonesian businessmen and foreign expatriates in Bali are widely seen as being the most untrustworthy, nastiest “business” people in the world. Often abusing contacts with high ranking police officers to close down competitors businesses and / or have foreigners jailed and / or deported for constructed criminal offences.
13) Indonesian law (criminal, etc. codes) is so open to interpretation and is constantly abused that if someone decides to afflict a foreign tourist or new investor, they can.
14) Many businesses, especially hotels in Bali are still owned or part-owned by the Suharto family.
15) Awful food; hence the term “Bali belly”
16) Terrible beaches suffering from polluted waters, beach erosion, large waves, dangerous rocks, black sand and aggressive beach sellers.
17) Bali lies just off the Asian / Australasian fault line. This same fault line generated the December 26th 2004 tsunami just off Banda Aceh. The new tsunami warning system will not help Bali if their section of the fault line suffers a similar quake; the first tidal wave will likely hit Bali within 20 minutes of the earthquake. Building standards are so poor in Bali compared with other countries a major offshore earthquake would first virtually level the Balinese tourist south, followed of course by the massive damage reeked by a series of tidal waves.
Now let’s take a look at how the regional competition stacks up!
1) Foreign land and property ownership is allowed in Malaysia. East Timor’s government says it will allow foreign land ownership once it has sorted out the horrible mess it took over from the departing Indonesian forces (Indonesian forces destroyed virtually all public records).
2) Almost every neighboring country has far better beaches than Bali.
3) Many other ASEAN governments are distinctly pro-western. East Timor has many close ties with Australia. Indonesia’s neighbours realize that being western friendly means better tourism revenues and higher foreign investment. All of Indonesia’s neighbours have banned Jemaah Islamiah and their associated groups.
4) Police and judiciary corruption levels are much lower in neighboring countries, which means more effective security, lower crimes rates, better policing and more justice for foreigners.
5) Some countries make it much easier for foreigners to run businesses. Thailand for example sets investment and Thai worker levels per foreign work permit. Malaysia has a “second home” scheme where foreigners can buy up to two properties and receive a whopping 5 year visa for themselves, their family and one foreign maid; they even allow the foreigners to bring their cars and register them in Malaysia free of charge. Malaysia also allows permanent residency after 5 years, so a foreign property investor / owner can legally stay in Malaysia for 5 years under the 2nd home visa scheme and then get residency! Business operational permits are similarly easier to obtain in places like East Timor, Thailand and Malaysia.
6) Malaysian, Thai and Vietnamese food by every food gourmet and critic’s reckoning makes Indonesian food taste like an explosion in an out of date spice factory.
7) Beach vendors in many countries such as Thailand have to be licensed.
8) All of Indonesia’s neighbours / competitors have open transparency mandates regarding health and safety issues and have been very effective in limiting the spread of dangerous diseases and also preventing terrorism. Malaysia has very stringent anti-terrorist legislation which has forced its home grown insurgents to flee to Indonesia.
9) Anti-western sentiment is far less or kept much more in check in other ASEAN countries. Malaysia is reckoned to be one of the worst in the region outside Indonesia of course, but the large numbers of ethnic Chinese, Indian and western descendents have easily kept such feelings by some extreme ethnic Malays in check.
10) Neighboring countries to Indonesia will benefit enormously from the tsunami early warning system now and increasingly being put in place along the fault line just off the Indonesian coast, because tidal waves generated by this fault take hours, not minutes to travel outside Indonesia.
11) People in Malaysia, East Timor, Thailand and Vietnam can be every bit as charming as the people of Bali.
Going to and / or investing in other neighboring countries, especially East Timor and Malaysia will make the Balinese understand they have a duty that goes beyond their smiles. It tells them they have to act against the corruption and anti-western sentiment rife in their country, plus make life much fairer for foreign investors, especially villa owners, so they can operate legally and pay taxes. Some Balinese and their sheep like followers claim they are unable to act against such things because Bali is an island of pacifists, but that is nonsense. The Balinese proudly boast how they saw off the colonial Dutch in an armed conflict, all they need to do this time is stand up for their and everyone’s else’s rights and for the law to be applied as it should be. In the mean time we believe the Balinese do not deserve foreign investment or tourism business. Please, invest in or travel to the countries and the people that act in your favour, not act against you through jealousy and hatred with their crocodile smiles.