Archive for the 'law and order' Category

Drug Testing ala Pinoy

Philippines driving license is easy to get, provided you pass the drug testing exam in flying colours. D was trying to get his driving license and we were directed to this center. First he thought he could pay some money to get everything done. Apparently that can’t be done.

Small centers like this are swarming around the Department of Transport. But isn’t it a weird regulation? Anybody can stop taking drugs for a week or so, take the test, get the license and go back to drugging. That just doesn’t make any sense.



Public Loo : Cherish or Trash

Public toilet is provided but not usable. The culprits are apparently the users themselves. An interesting theory on the non-existence of hygienic and proper public loo in Indonesia.

During its agrarian years, people did nature calls in the nature, places like river, ditch, woods or in the outhouse. It was then let on to be organically dealt with by the nature itself. In the modern age, people who live in big cities are expected to use public restrooms and to clean up after themselves. Religion also stressed how cleanliness is part of devotion. But till now it has not been absorbed into social practices in daily life.

Excerpt from Kompas 13th January

To clean up after oneself is apparently still a big challenge. Maybe we need to bio-engineer some sort of micro-organism that can flush and pick up the trash, an upgrade of what their ancestor did in the past.

Suharto the President


He caused a lot of misery. We all hate him and his family. We hate how he enriched himself and his friends. He silenced his opponents in unspeakable way. Yes, he embezzled people’s money. He was corrupt. So what? We as a nation were reckless and not critical.  

He stepped down in 1998 after ruling 32 years.  We did elect him over and over and over again. And till now, we still can’t seem to prosecute him.

But, he also fueled the economic growth. He held the nation together in one piece, so to speak, for 31 years. Not a lot of people can do that, I can tell you that. A lot of good things happened too.

All I am trying to say is, one man can’t cause hardship and misery to 235 million people. Everybody shares the blame. We didn’t work hard enough. We were not being critical enough. We didn’t have the courage. We weren’t smart enough. We were ignorant. We were corrupt. We were stupid.

Let’s start a new day. Let him rest. Let that be the lesson.

Let’s not sit quietly when our future leaders even think of going the same path as Suharto.  

Let’s study hard, work harder and contribute more to the country.

The President is here!

I was stuck in the house all morning. Here’s the story …


8.00 am Headline

On today’s newspaper headline, the President is coming.


9.00 am Dead jam

Then everybody in town decides to go to the ceremony to see him. My house is about 200m away from the ground zero. They parked the minibusses used to carry the spectators on side streets like ours. Both sides of the street


9.30 am More jam


10.00 am Dead end

I insisted on going to work, about 5 m drive down the street I was faced with this … Then I took a long reverse trip back to the garage


11.00 am Things are clearing up a bit


11.30 am Things are definitely clearing up

People! It is a great thing, public rally. Show that you care. Show your support. Show your curiosity.

But for God’s sake, clean up after yourself!! Don’t leave your trash in front of other people’s houses. Show some respect for other people’s property, please

we are ready for Marriott … NOT

Heard of the controversy over Marriott-to-be building in Medan, North Sumatra?

Story behind it :

Medan is a small city, an extremely strange one with the airport practically located in the middle of the city. No building / structures are supposed to be more than 45m height within certain km radius of the airport as it will compromise the navigational function of the airport and also pilots.

Here it comes :

JW Marriott has invested in the new hotel built in Medan, with the height of 28 floors (about 90m) which makes it the tallest building in the city. The local government claims that the hotel has only been given permit to built 15 floors in total, three underground and 12 above. The issues came to surface in September when the hotel was all the way up to the 27th floor. One more floor short of the original blue print.

Long story short :

The government has requested the hotel to scrape off the additional floors and stick to the building permit. What??

I don’t really follow the story, but from what I heard from my business associate who is also associate to the local partner of the Marriott, claimed that they have done everything asked, including providing an independent report from consultants that it will not interfere with the operational of the airport. This incident has been very troubling and his investors are not happy with the way the local officials handle things.

Moral of the story :

It is strange how the city government failed to notice how the building has sprouted that tall (way way way above the said-15 floor permit) months before. Shouldn’t they have somebody monitoring this high-profile project? The bell should have been ringing out loud when it reached the 16th floor. Not 27th floor!

I am also certain that since Marriott is a big name, they should have done their research right and would not proceed with the construction above ‘the-said 15th floor’ if they were not given assurances or anything by the city officials that it will not be a problem in the future. Maybe something went sour.  

Even without the Mariott, planes are still falling off Medan sky like fruit-flies. I find that hilarious.  

Personal experience :

When we were building our office, we planned to build the 4th floor. The city government rejected our proposal. They said that 3 floor is the limit for our area. Of course we asked them what we should do. We were asked whether we were willing to put up USD 30,000 to make our case heard all the way up to the local parliament. Well, obviously we did what every sane businessman would do. We said .. well, bye bye, we will see you soon …. NOT.

A year later, a hotel is built right in front of us. Separated by a 20m wide street. Guess what. It has nine floors. Now still standing and all and we never heard a word of it. Justice do prevail, I think ..

more on immigration feud

 I am giving American Consulate in Medan thumbs up. They acted very quickly in responding to our complaints of harrassment. The consulate officer phoned the head of immigration in 10 minutes time to report the incident and the head of immigration contacted us. He said he would clarify the matter asap.

The next day, the immigration officer sent text messages to us (by this time, both of us already in Penang – like a couple of fugitives) begging us to withdraw the report because he was “in deep trouble” and it is “not fair beause he hasn’t accepted any bribe money from us” and he only “intended to help”. He wanted us to call the head of immigration (his superior) and also the American Consulate to help him clear his name.

Yeah, right ..

weirdest immigration law

This post is about what happened between me, my husband and Indonesian Immigration Department at the Medan Polonia International Airport.

For those who live in the country of inequality full of corrupt government officials, I can safely say that we actually accept that as a fact of life.

When I was a little girl, I would ask my parents, why did we have to pay that guy? Why did we have to do this or that? That was not what we learned at school. My parents explained to me that was how they work, we as minorities had to go along with them.

Years have passed; things are still going that way. I am married to an American. He just can’t understand why we put up with that. From the time I lived in Adelaide for the whole four years, never once I encountered things that we deal with everyday here. So I guess in a way I can see why this upset him.

Because of the ridiculous immigration law here, he can’t be sponsored by me to stay here as my spouse. The law doesn’t recognize permanent residency status for foreigners. You either have to work here or you are a tourist. My husband is a freelance consultant who travels country to country, so he doesn’t have work permit in Indonesia. When he comes home, he will use 30-day entry tourist visa.

Things were going smoothly until last month, a certain immigration officer recognized him from leaving to Penang and back again on the same day to get his passport stamped and renew his entry visa. They told him that that was the last time they were letting him do that and suggesting him to get social cultural visa (which, by the way, only lasts two months and we have to spend at least 2 weeks working on it). Since this month is going to be his last month before starting his new contract, we decided not to pursue with that and just try out our luck one more time.


Today, I got somebody to ask the immigration officer of the Medan Airport whether my husband could fly out and come back again on tourist visa just one last time. He suggested we talk to the head of immigration here in Medan and we might need to “contribute” a bit to him. Of course, my husband would not hear of it. He thinks if he pays them now, it will be a bad precedent for other foreigners who will come in the future! Which is true, and I agreed with him. So we decided not to pay and he had to leave the country in three hour notice.

He has the right to use the 30 day tourist visa to visit his wife. He does not abuse his visa by working here. He should not be denied entry to a country just because somebody needs some “coffee-money”. He reported this incident to American Consulate Office in Medan, and they told him that they will investigate this.

Mixed couples are faced with great legal difficulties here in Indonesia. I just don’t know why they haven’t got to sort it out. It definitely shows you how you treat foreigners and how you value citizens of other countries. Mixed couple with one spouse working in other country will definitely bring in foreign reserves, wont they? They work and send money and eventually spend the money here in the country which in return will benefit the country..

Somebody needs to wake up and address this issue.

This is a long post and I don’t normally do heavy topics. But this has been troubling my family for two years now. I hope something will change in the future.