Bad Bali

We’d been warned that Bali was corrupt, but I don’t think I fully appreciated what that meant until I came here.  There were some German Masters students (Masters in Bali, really?!?) in our hotel who were full of stories of just how ‘bad’ Bali is. I expected police corruption, but I was surprised to hear that corruption was even present in the universities. They told us how they could bribe a professor to turn their C grade into an ‘A’ grade, or get a copy of the final exam, with a slab of German chocolate! It was so easy to bribe teachers that one of the students, Thorsten, NEVER showed up to lectures.

They warned us about police pulling over Westerners to check if they had an international driver’s licence. One German guy told us that he was pulled over once and told if he didn’t have an international driver’s licence that he’d have to give them some money. Unfortunately the German guy didn’t have any rupiah on him and was taken to this random house to be ‘questioned’. They left him locked in a room until he eventually handed over some money. He found 5 american dollars in his wallet…. and was free to go. 

Thorsten told us that he’d been stopped by the police so many times that he immediately hands over 50,000 rupiah (about 3 quid) and the police send him on his way. Apparently 80% of a Balinese police officer’s income comes from bribes! You’ll find more police officers ‘checking Westerners’ for an international driver’s licence, or a helmet strap that’s ‘too loose’, towards the end of the month (go figure). One of Thorsten’s friends had been mugged twelve times in 6 months, and each time he’d had to bribe the police to even take down his statement!

We were also told this story about how somebody on their course had knocked over a dog with their motorbike and made the mistake of checking it was alright. He was suddenly surrounded by 40 Balinese screaming at him because he’d killed their father (reincarnation and all that). The Balinese demanded he pay 7 million rupiah (350 quid) for killing their ‘dad’, or they’d hurt him, so he handed over the money.

The Germans also advised us not to drive after dark in Bali as an international student was killed a couple of months ago. The Germans were so scared of Bali that they never really left the hotel. They were too afraid of travelling long distances on their motorbikes, or venturing out into the unknown. Thorsten, for example, would ONLY go to places that he could reach in under 10 minutes!!

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One comment

  1. Yes, corruption is rife — let’s see if Jokowi can actually reduce it or not.

    In my opinion, if a foreigner is riding a bike without a helmet or without a valid driver’s license, then they should pay the official fines — which are between Rupiah 500,000 and 1 million: far more than the corrupt cops demand.
    However, if a foreigner does have a valid license, is wearing a helmet, hasn’t been drinking and is obeying the laws, they only have to dial up the tourist police. The tourist police will come and bust cops who demand bribes (or, maybe they turn up and extort all the takings from them? Either way, if you’re legal, you shouldn’t need to worry and you should refuse to pay bribes.

    Having said that, use your head, and don’t be rude or aggressive to cops. A few years ago, one Australian friend of mine in Surabaya, East Java, was stopped (he was only a passenger in a taxi !) and the cop demanded Rupiah 100,000. My friend refused and said he wanted to see the cop’s captain. Often this is enough to dissuade a cop from pushing things further. Unfortunately, the captain was there and was in on the extortion racket. Once my friend was dealing with the captain, the price had risen to 500,000. My friend claimed to have only 100,000 on him, so the cops marched him to an ATM machine for him to withdraw enough cash. They told him that if he didn’t, they would take him to the station where they promised that they WOULD find drugs on him !
    It was going to be the Chief of police’s daughter’s wedding at the end of the month, so everyone got rolled by the cops that month, because the cops needed to buy wedding gifts, etc.

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