Fugly Bali
The Balinese frauds are not a small island minority
Want to buy something, do business or invest in Bali?
When does a Balinese lie in business? When they open their mouth!

OK, not all Balinese are liars. But a large proportion, if not the vast majority are when it comes to business. "Business" means what they do for a living, and the Balinese / Indonesians learn from an early age. Even teachers steal from their class. Most often this is to take food from them which they have been told to bring in for a ceremony / blessing, and to require them to buy their school books through them at inflated prices. Sometimes it is worse.

The whole Indonesian society is corrupt. The architect of this was Suharto. His party was referred to as KKN (corruption, collusion and nepotism - the Indonesian's spell the first two words with a "k"). Of course, corruption is self-defeating, unless you are at the top of the ladder. Such as Megawati, who accepts that her entire cabinet is corrupt. Or the Police Chief or Governor of Bali.

An example of self-defeating corruption / fraud is salt. Salt in Indonesia is meant to be iodinized, that is have a set amount of iodine added. This is to prevent disease, as many Indonesian's diet is Iodine deficient otherwise, which can result in terrible malformations, retarded brains, etc. But iodine is more expensive than salt. So some / many salt producers do not add it, even though they claim to have on the packet. If, or rather when they get caught, they simply pay the inspectors some money to ignore their crime against their fellow countrymen, women and children. Of course, then people develop iodine deficiency and cost the state of Indonesia thousands and thousands times more then the profit made by the salt producers. Madness. But that is the way Indonesia works.

Bearing on mind you fall victim to fraud / extortion from an early age in Bali, it is remarkable there are any, let alone so many honest people there. But, of course, the ones with the power and the greater ability are corrupt, fraudulent and dishonest as they come. Try it out! Go to a market and find a stained or miscoloured or slightly damaged item, and ask the seller if it is best quality! Go to a moneychanger and watch them use every trick in the book to cheat / short change you (from dropping the money once they have counted it, to using a "broken" calculator, to recounting money they have already counted). Some may laugh, and say they enjoy catching them out / they are too smart for them. But these are the easily visible frauds.

What about the fake designer watches you can buy. Sure, most street sellers will openly admit they are fakes. But go into a brand name clothes shop and all of a sudden they become genuine Rolex's (what does this tell you about their brand name clothes). Go down to Jimbaran Bay's restaurants and ask if you can squeeze the display (for sale / to be cooked) fish's belly! Why? because the chances are it will be hard, not soft as it should be! Why? Because they have stuffed lead into it's gut to make it heaver for the scales (you pay by weight). Of course it is not the money you have been defrauded out of that matters so much, but the lead poisoning that goes with it.

Think this only relates to certain stalls outside of restaurants? Ask your waiter of the fish dish you are ordering is fresh. When they say "yes", ask to see it. It will almost certainly be frozen. Ask for orange juice and se what you get. The Balinese like to give answers you like to hear.

Thinking of investing money in Bali?

May Bali's gods help you. First of all, remember that you are probably perceived as a money tree. Second, understand that most lawyers are inept, corrupt, or both. The chances are they will make costly mistakes, and or work with the other party and / or government official to make extra money from you. Next, make sure you are getting what you think you are. For example, it is quite common for land owners to remove all the trees after they sell land to foreigners, unless they were stipulated as included. Of course, land without the trees and their root structure becomes almost worthless. But they don't care. Also, make sure permits are available. For example, one enterprising officer for Canggu bought up all the villa operational permits and then sold them at a profit.

Watch your back every second of the way. Existing suppliers will try and bump the price up / drop the product quality whenever they can. Staff will generally see you as outsiders, with money. The local village leader and committee will expect donations from you whenever you are around. Local with land or premises next to you may well make trouble for you (noise, etc.) if you do not give them a job or buy from them. If you are buying land, the "name giver" (the Balinese partner you appoint to actually own the land on paper, as you can not) may well try to take it all from you. Whenever someone offers to help you find or get something, they are most likely trying to make a commission (especially when it comes to land - many people claim to own a piece of land you are interested in to be able to make an often sizeable commission). Building / operational permits will be slow in coming unless you have a "friend" in the appropriate government department.

And finally, the police, your competitors and people that do not like you (for whatever reason) will have you ripe and ready for some police corruption. All of a sudden, those smiling, charming police officers will get complaints about you. Which means either spending hours and hours in a hot, sweaty police office answering the same questions, over and over again. Or paying the officers some corruption money to make the problem go away. If you are lucky, double the amount you expect to pay for your project. Because you are a money tree, and you will need to pay the piper. Once you have bought land / invested some money, you are committed, and they know it.

Please do not become a victim or part of the problem. Read:
Bali Tourism (Should I go, where, and how do I avoid adding to the problem / putting myself / my family at risk in Bali?).

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Please also visit the anti-corruption & fraud website Bali BS

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