Want to report
police corruption, extortion or abuse you have witnessed
or are aware of in Bali? Then please visit our Bali
Police Information bulletin board and tell the world.
a doubt, the police and other government officials in
Bali are the root cause for most if not all of the problems
on the island. Historically, the only reason someone
becomes a police officer in Indonesia, is to make extortion
money. Because they are there simply to make money like
the mafia, they both add to and basically ignore the
crime in Bali. There is an old Indonesian saying, "Lose
a chicken, report it to the police and lose a cow".
Which is why, part of the problem is that people simply
do not report crimes or suspicious activities to the
police. The police of course have a pedigree, they come
from the Suharto era when they helped the ruthless dictator's regime's
murder thousands of Balinese and Indonesians. Then,
as now, they clearly enjoy their jobs, as they like
But they are not smiling about their wages, oh no.
You may be shocked to know that a typical police officer
earns 2 million rupiah per month salary (around US$235).
Not much, although a lot more than the average hotel
worker's wage of just $35 per month. But amazingly,
they each pay at least 20 million rupiah to be able
to join the "service" in the first place.
Why? Because they can expect to at least quadruple their
salary through extortion. From stopping foreign motorists
for spurious traffic offences (locals driving minibuses
with tourists are simply told "Business must be
good!" and then told what gratuity they must pay
the police on that day), to finding anything they can
investigate an individual for (no matter how ludicrous
the reason) in order to extort money from them, to taking
bribes from people to make trouble for others. The Balinese
police are probably the most prolific criminals on the
island of Bali, a fact well documented.
In more specific terms, this means guests visiting
Bali are placed at considerable risk. Mostly because
the police foster crime and are, outside of making money,
generally just plain lazy. This equates to;
1) Terrorism Risk Elevated.
From police officers on anti-terrorism duty at the ferry
ports who wave coaches past without inspection in return
for 20,000 rupiah from the coach driver, to detectives
who spend their time trying to extort money from foreigners
living in Bali rather than pursuing leads on terrorists.
It clearly paints a worrying picture and creates many
opportunities for a growing number of militants.
2) Health Risk Elevated.
Illegal dumping of refuse, including human
effluence has been a problem for many years on Bali.
Because the illegal tippers as they are called are doing
it to save money, it is generally true that they have
very little of it. Because they have very little money,
the police are clearly not so interested as there is
little to extort. Never mind the health consequences.
3) Crime Risk Elevated.
It is a sad fact that often police work with
criminals to extort money from foreigners. Such as with
drug dealers who sell some drugs to someone (or plant
some on someone they do not like), then finger them
to their police contact. Besides that, the police set
a very bad example to others, who then feel it is acceptable
to take money from others by unfair means (such as the
many cheating money changers who short change customers).
4) Serious Crime Increasing.
Partly because police officers may well be involved
with gangs, partly because the police are generally
only interested in making extortion money (not actually
doing real police work). Gambling and general theft
gangs are known to attack and even kidnap victims, mostly
foreigners again. Also, as the police delegate "police
duties" to village "pecalangan" (vigilantes),
who are renowned for brutal methods, trying victims
themselves in kangaroo court style, and even executing
(murdering) suspects on the spot. OK, most of this is
dished out to other Indonesians, but no-one is safe
because they are literally a law unto themselves. Also
be aware that it is possible to pay around 2 million
rupiah to have a local killed in bali, 10 million to
have a foreigner killed. Also be aware the contracted
killer will think nothing of disclosing the identity
of the person hiring them to the police in order to
extort money out of them.
5) Crimes against children.
Spare a thought for the children of Indonesia
who fall prey to a large and increasing number of pedophiles,
who are never caught or pay off the police. Also spare
a thought for the 11 and 12 year girls and boys that
are married off, and then forced into prostitution on
the streets of Bali. Whose only contact with the police
is to pay them money.
6) Other government officials.
From building permit officers who take bribes from hoteliers
in return for permission to build where they should
not (e.g. too close to a temple). From customs officials
who are geared up to find drugs on tourists arriving
at international airports (please, the drugs come in
via the ferry ports, carried by Indonesians on buses
that get waived through for 20,000 rp) and to check
they have not exceeded their duty free allowance (watch
them when they find someone with an extra bottle of
wine, tell them the duty is 400% when it is really only
92%). Every government officer in Bali, including those
at the very top (the Governor of Bali, Ida Bagus Oka, has links with
the Suharto family, of course), is likely to be extremely
corrupt. Which means things like health and safety regulations
Plus, of course, there is the very real risk the police
will try to extort money from you!
We believe it is time for the entire police force in
Bali to be investigated. It would not be that difficult.
How much do they get salary? How much do they have in
their bank accounts? How much are their visible outgoings
(university fees for their children, etc.). What car
do they drive? What is the value of their house? Does
the math add up? No? Then work it out!
Actually some police officers in Indonesia openly admit
corruption is a problem and suggest their officers grow
vegetables to supplement their income! But of course,
the Balinese police have their good old money trees,
the foreigners to harvest. Why would they want to get
their hands dirty?
do about police corruption if you become a victim of
not let the police officer involved in extorting moeny
from you or your companions know you are taking their
details. If you make trouble or if they realize you
intend to make trouble for them, they will likely make
trouble for you. Trouble for you generally will mean
a visit to the court. So, as carefully as you can, make
a note of the policeman' s name, etc., plus details
of the time and location.
have these safely written down and when you get home
from Bali, you can do 3 things;
1) Use the
notice board here to publish what happened, as this
is most likely to get some Balinese police attention
to the problem (we will attempt to make sure they are
aware of each complaint). Publish details that will
allow the Balinese Police to identify the officer (his
name, date, time, location), and detail what the alleged
offence was, whether and why it was false, and how much
money you had to pay the officer to be let go. When
you make a report here, you may use just your first
name if you prefer, and your email address will not
appear on the complaint.
a letter of complaint to your country's foreign office
and / or your local politician, giving them the same
details. If enough people do this, your government will
have to do something. Even if it is to warn people about
police corruption in their travel advisories. They do
not like doing this as shaming foreign government officials
basically will cost them / the country money. But if
enough people around the world do it, no one country
will lose trade and the Indonesians will be forced to
doing something sooner, rather than later.
a letter of complaint to the Chief of Police in Bali.
Do not use your full name and address if you feel uncomfortable
about it however, just a first name and town. If you
just give these, tell the police chief you are not providing
your full name and address as you know how corrupt and
malicious they can be, and that the information you
can give is enough for them to act. That is enough for
them. The police chief's address is; Chief of Police,
Kapolda Bali, Jl W.R. Supratman No. 7, Denpasar, Bali,
Indonesia. Of course, he is not likely to do anything,
as he is likely to be even more corrupt then his own
subordinates. But it will have an effect and be worth
the effort / stamp. You never know, one day Bali might
get a real police chief.
you are vulnerable to police extortion?
offences are the most common occurrence a foreigner
will experience of police extortion. You will probably
be asked for "some money for a friend". An
alleged motoring offence will cost you 50,000 rupiah
upwards if you are driving a car, 10,000 if you are
driving a motor bike (as you will be perceived to have
less money). If you do not pay it, you will go to court
and likely pay more. Yes, we know, the alleged motoring
offence is often false (although the same system of
extortion applies to real motoring offences as well).
At road blocks, even if your papers are in order, you
will be told "Your papers are not in order".
If you take the time to show them each paper and say
"Look, here is my driving license. Here is my car
rental contract with hire car tax paid. Here is my insurance
note. My documents are in order." If you repeat
this 2 or 3 times, the chances are you will then be
"let off" and simply asked for a donation!
To which you can say "No thank you" and drive
At the more
serious end, being caught with narcotics (which can
carry the death penalty) will cost someone around US$35,000
if they are resident in Bali) or US$10,000 if they are
a tourist. We have recorded reports of these amounts.
And would like to say "A big shame on the police
officer who extorted US$35,000 from James Gavin for
possession of marijuana". A drug he used in part
as a pain killer / to bring himself relief - he died
a few days after being released from 5 nights in jail,
which was used to extort the US$35,000 from him. In
our book, the police officers involved are murderers.
But they will probably never be tried.
of murder, it is speculated / reported unofficially
that being let off a murder will cost someone around
US$50,000 to US$100,000 for killing a local of little
standing, US$500,000 for killing a foreigner or local
of some standing. Of course, getting precise details
of this is not easy (and it will depend on a person's
nationality and perceived wealth). As anyone admitting
to it, even from overseas, would almost certainly then
face trial. It is even suggested that foreign embassies
may assist in such matters rather then allow one of
their citizens to bring adverse publicity to their country
and / or face the gallows.
Hell! Left is a picture of the main bomber involved
in the terrorist bombing on Bali in October 2002. The
people you see with him here are not his colleagues
from JI AKA Jemaah Islamiah (terrorist organization
linked to Osama Bin Laden's Al-Qaeda & responsible
for the Bali bombing). No, these are Indonesian police
officers sharing a smile with Amrozi for the press after
he was arrested. If you want a reminder of what Amrozi
did, please click Bali Bombing.
Now ask, why they are smiling.
Please do not become a victim or part
of the problem. Read:
Tourism (Should I go, where, and how do I avoid
adding to the problem / putting myself / my family at
risk in Bali?).