INDONESIAN COPS AND GANGSTERS CORRUPTED THE TOURIST.HOW TO OBEY AND HOW TO GIVE THE BRIBES DO YOU WANT TO KNOW THE TRICK TO BE ONE OF THE INDONESIAN MONKEY DO? HERE IS SOME TIPS traveled to Indonesia 7 times amounting to almost a year there and traveling from sumbawa to Sumatra, I have had my fare share of encounters with coruption although it has always been curupt but fare just some smoke or food money usaully a 20,000rrp.

Recently however I traveled to a remote area of offshore Sumatra with my Indonesian wife and her father, here’s how the story goes.

The area is very remote pretty much one main island surrounded by many a few motorbikes half a dozen cars main industry fishing and coconuts.

After ariving at the only local losmen(that didn’t my passport details) we went to get something to eat Mie goreng or nasi goreng was about all you could buy, so we sat down at a warung and ordered.

Few minutes latter two men walk in and make there overpowering precence felt, they sit down and motion for me(bule)to come over after a brief hello and small talk in Bahasa Indonesian/english they tell me there the police and ask to see my passport(no uniforms).

My wife comes over with our photo copys of my passport they look at it for a good five minutes, then ask where the real one is?

After further looking they ask what our relationship is married we show them photo’s they dont beleive there real, but after a while they drop that angle and go back to my passport and say they dont care about my wife and her father, but I am the problem as without the original passport they cannot see my entry stamp, my wife tells them that shouldn’t be a problem as that is an imigration matter.
They then seem to drop that line and going on to tell us that we need permision from the mainland to come to the area (nowhere near aceh) and that i must go back tto the mainland wich is imposible no plane or boat for days.

Since there is a problem we must go to the Police station(big mistake) Im lost in the conversation of Bahasa Indonesia, I get by but im not fluent, so i let my wife and her father deal with the situation.
So we go to the Police station(five minutes walk) where we go over it all again, offcourse we knew what they wanted from the start(money) but thought if we make it to easy we will get bassically robbed.

They tell us the only way we can fix the problem is to pay up or I will be looked in the cell until the police goes to the mainland and gets the permision letter, Offcourse I know there bluffing and think about calling there bluff, but also can see the dirty cell and worry i could also receive a beating or be set up with drugs or something, my wife and father are also worried so we start the offers at 20,000rrp (not enough) 30,000rrp 50,000rrp 100,000rrp 200,000rrp NO it must be 1 JUTA OR MORE…….rrrrrrrrrr thats US $100 or AU $150 or as much or more than they would earn a month.

So what do ya do?….we paid up.
But it doesn’t end there they kept our passports and told us to report back before leaving the area.

We get to the end of our trip, not worried about the passport photo copys we go to book a ticket on the once a week small ferry, but they wont let me get a ticket without a photo copy of my passport?, there exuse if police board the boat i must have it or they will get in trouble?

Luckly we see the police in town, he wants us to go to the police station to get them, but we decline his offer knowing in the privacy of the police station would mean more money.
And tell him we will wait, he goes comes back, makes exuses,goes comes back sits with us for half an hour we try to remain friendly but his games are draining us, hours go by, we must wait hours for the ferrry but time is running out.
Finally my wifes father asks him if the leader of the megawati party is around as papa is a big member the police say his away, so papa ask a Becak driver who will take us to him, Suprise suprise 10 seconds after my passport papers are in my hands, and off we go and get our ticket.

Now my problem is we want to return to the area we made some great friends but I will have to report to the police station with my passport number as we stay in a small nearby villlage and if i dont they realy could do something.





Posted @ 19-12-2006 05:43

Sorry about all the spelling mistakes, can’t seem to find the eadit button.

Posted @ 19-12-2006 05:49

Next time you go there make sure you’ve grown a beard, wear glasses – 5 and change into muslim gear. You’ll be allright!

Posted @ 19-12-2006 07:17

pak ronald


I’ve been in numerous situation like you described, and managed to talk my way out. Rule one (for me):
– never argue: you write:
my wife tells them that shouldn’t be a problem as that is an imigration matter.
I would use: “Oh really, i didn’t know that. What can we do about it??”
Leave problems “in the middle”.

Maybe as as soon as the police start conversation, you are supposed to start negotiating about the “gift” (the bribe). I normally give them a pack of sigarettes and a coca cola right away. Don’t ask for it, but order a cola or coffee so the waiter hears it, and every one knows that you made the first offer.

Other things:
– you always work as a teacher in primary school
– always on a honeymoon
– you are always preparing for some holiday according your faith (finding a place for christmas…..)
– start talking about family, especially children

It also worked a couple of times for me, to refuse to go to the police station by saying “I’m not properly dressed. I have to change first. I don’t want to make a bad impression”.
My bahasa is not fluent, but it works so far.


On 19-12-2006 05:43 sebastian wrote:


Try to travell with properiate papers, you are wrong if you cannot shown yr pasport if they are asking for.

Bisa dicek mas .

Posted @ 19-12-2006 08:50

I would like to know why you are travelling with a photocopy of your passport. Are you trying to see Indonesia on a social visa and happen to leave your original passport with your agent say in Bali or somewhere?
Well, you know what the rules are – you should travel with your original passport at all times.
Yes, you may have got away with it in the past, but it ha scaught up with you now.
Someone on another forum suggested I do this when travelling, but no way, I never want to do anything, that could jepordise my future visits to Indonesia.

Posted @ 19-12-2006 13:38


Im afraid that might of worked against me as it is a rare dominant christian/katholic area my wife is Katholic and even wore a cross, the cops were christian.

Posted @ 19-12-2006 22:43

pak ronald

You make some good points and ideas, many i also thought about before, i kinda got lost pretty quick in the fast bahasa, so had to let my wife handle it and she handled it a bit different than i would.

Posted @ 19-12-2006 22:47

Sidia dan pPamela

It does make sence what your saying, most of the time i do travel with my passport but have been told by some that it is safer too travel with just photo copys and leave it in a safe place such as a banks safety deposit box.

Although it does make sence i guess as we are tourist, i will have to check this out further.

Suprised they dropped this angle.

Thanks everyone for your replys

It is suprising the different replys you get from Indonesian wise people, my expat friends who have lived/worked in Indonesia almost ten years, didn’t mention the passport thing, but they did say what ever you do don’t give them your passport or then you realy must pay to get it back.

Posted @ 19-12-2006 23:11

Ah yes found it…Aduh aku goblok sekali

Under Indonesian law you are required to carry identification (an Australian Passport, Kartu Ijin Tinggal Sementara (KITAS) or Residents Stay Permit) at all times.

Posted @ 19-12-2006 23:22


interesting problem, the pasport thing…I used to carry the original with me on trips within indonesia, but then I was pickpocketed once in surabaya in the busstation, and ever since I’m just travelling with a photocopy (actually on the advice of the police when I reported it)…I drive my own car and motorbike, cross over from java to bali several times a month, so I run into frequent police checks, and so far there has been absoutely no problem with carrying just a copy (that also includes the copy of the arrival stamp or extension stamp)
so in the above situation, I would have called their bluff, they won’t lock up a tourist because of a trivial thing like that (that would draw too much unwanted attention to their racket), in fact I I would have turned the table and treathen to report them for extortion (because that’s what it really was)
good luck next time!

Posted @ 20-12-2006 01:06


On 19-12-2006 23:22 sebastian wrote:
Ah yes found it…Aduh aku goblok sekali

Under Indonesian law you are required to carry identification (an Australian Passport, Kartu Ijin Tinggal Sementara (KITAS) or Residents Stay Permit) at all times.

I am living in holland , must always have my I.D. in my pocket.
I think most of the European Countries have also similar laws.
No I.D in Holland ? , 50 euri fine .

With 50 euri I can live for a month in Indonesia

Bisa dicek mas .

Posted @ 20-12-2006 10:17


On 20-12-2006 10:17 sidia wrote:

With 50 euri I can live for a month in Indonesia

Hi Om Sid,

Try hard, die hard hahaha

Posted @ 20-12-2006 17:07

Hi Sebastian,

Which island in which area are you talking about?
If you say a Catholic island ofshore Sumatra, then Nias comes to my mind.
And this island I’ll always remember as the one where I’ve encountered the most corrupt moneygrabbers in the whole of Indonesia. They were asking money for taking pictures, for entering villages, annoying kids following you asking money etc… Totally spoiled, and this was almost 14 years ago!
That’s the reason I’ve never returned to Nias, although it was stunning beautifull with amazing (surf)beaches.
On the more Northernly islands of the P.Banyak archipelago and P. Simeulue it was totally different. Equally in beauty, maybe even better beaches, and the people were treating me as a Guest with the capital G!

Posted @ 20-12-2006 22:38

Yes that’s what confuses me Ive heard similar storys like yours and got totally different advice and ways to deal with the situation from Indo wise travelers/expats but i think I will travel with my pasport now all the same with a few back up color copys certified in Indonesia, and a load of phone numbers like embassy, and indonesia family contacts in higher places.

Posted @ 21-12-2006 06:41


Hi, It was on Telo Island Batu archipelago south of nias where we encountered the police there is 3 police for the whole area 50+ islands, interestingly both police we had problems with are Batak so i guess you could say we never had a problem with a true local at all

The people there do speak a form of nias but the people themselves are totally different to the people on Nias among the most friendly ive ever met and was charged realistic prices for everything we needed.

We actually stayed on a remote island in the area with a family in a village, where we treated just like family, no better than family, and on the flip side we had the most amazing time and made the best friendships, and despite the Island only having a few thousand coconuts,20 pigs or so, a few dogs, some chickens and 200 people whom 150 seemed to be kids, no warung, no toilet where we stayed, just like every other Indonesian they have a mobil phone, so we have even been keeping in contact, hence our reason to return.

Haven’t been north of nias yet, but Ive seen many photo’s of the Banyaks and Simeulue, Indah sekali dan ombak bagus juga!

(Edited) Posted @ 21-12-2006 07:08

Maybe it’s a good idea to have some small souvenirs ready from your home-country for those policemen, just in case.
As for my experiences on Nias, this was only at the well known Lagundri surf bay, Sorake beach and the nearby villages. Places already used to tourism.
Those Batak policemen were maybe used to tourism already if they came from the Toba area. But still, that’s no exuse for such behaviour. With a few exeptions I found Indonesian policemen very correct and friendly.
This year I was even welcome to join the Polair (waterpolice) on their patrols through the Banggai islands (Sulteng). Another extremely beautifull area almost unknow to travellers. In such places you will be treated as the most important member of their own family.

Posted @ 21-12-2006 12:53

I never carried my passport unless I knew I needed it for travel/official/banking matters – for the reasons mentioned (pickpockets, loss, giving to corrupt officials and never getting it back). They get your passport, they have you in their pocket! I did make a complete photocopy including visa stamp though, just in case.

Smiling, looking confused, looking anxious to help clear up the ‘misunderstanding’, keeping money in different pockets to show them in case they are ‘looking’ for how much they can get – these all worked. Worst times I had were at the airport in Medan and once, incredibly, at Soekarno-Hatta leaving for Singapore. In both cases they had the passport & KIM/S, but gave them back when the arrangement was made … coincidentally (?) just in time for the plane to leave

Posted @ 21-12-2006 15:03

Dear Sebastian
I don’t if you need special paper or permit where you went.
But in general a copy from you pasport and a copy from your entry stamp should be enough already.In Europe country its different that’s what i know.
Here on Java its working,a Immigration officer ever told me”” Never ever give
your real pasport to a police officer.

Merry christmas

Mboh Banget

Posted @ 22-12-2006 09:43

Outside the mainstream touristplaces it’s quite normal that you have to report to the local police. In most cases the owner of the guesthouse needs a copy of ur passport and you have to fill in a paper which he will bring to the nearest police.
To my experiences they are more strict about this today, then 10-15 years ago.
On our way to the Banyak’s our public boat made a short stop at a floating policepost in the river from Singkil to the open sea, where me and my then gf had to show our passports and fill in a form.
Quite unusual for those day’s in my experience, nowaday’s it seems to be more of a common rule.
Best to bring a stock of copies of ur passport for smoother handling. On one occasion this year an apparently lazy owner of a hotel I stayed in Luwuk told me to go to to the copyshop myself, where I had to wait for over an hour before it was my turn.

Posted @ 22-12-2006 13:13

You are supposed to have some ID on you when you leave home. All Indonesian are required to carry their KTP for example, so why should it be any different for bule? I used to carry my passport, KITAS, and SIM with me whereever I went and didn’t really encounter many problems. You could try saying that the passport is the property of your government and if they take it and don’t return it you have to report it to the embassy. Then get the name and number of the police. Always ask the police for their ID and carry some paper and a pen and write it down so that they know that you have them on record. Try not to be scared when dealing with officials in uniform. Fear is the one thing that they can use to intimidate. Bad publicity can be used as a threat, as well as what your father-in-law did Sebastian, which is use any connections however tenuous to call their bluff. I lived in Indonesia for five years and had many encounters with corrupt officials who saw me as an ATM for free money. But I also met many Indonesian who were trying to do their jobs in the face of this corruption and their low salaries. The main thing is not to lose your cool, don’t give in to fear and go straight for the reason they want to cause trouble. Let them know that you know your rights and will not back down. If you have all the necessary documents you don’t have any reason to fear. You could also say that your embassy is expecting you to return at a certain time and if you don’t it could lead to bad publicity!!

Posted @ 24-12-2006 14:06


My former employer was situated in a military komplek. Therefore every company car had a sticker to allow them to access and exit the gates. I’ve never ever been stopped at a checkpoint when travelling with a company car. As soon as the policeman saw the sticker, he’d let us go through undisturbed.

It just goes to show: It counts who you know. Bringing a list of phonenumbers of friend in high places, is a good idea. “Accidentaly” show a businesscard of such a person as you are looking for you ID. When it’s clear to the official that you have the proper friends… make sure to get the name of the official. He will be very helpfull.

“Niets zo zinvol als nutteloosheid” – H.F.V.M. Finkers

(Edited) Posted @ 29-12-2006 12:25


Dear Pak Ronald,

These are all very good ideas, but it makes a big difference if you are travelling alone, or with (female) Indonesian company. In situations like this, my wife always gets the “you are with a bule, so you must be a hooker”-routine.

I always handle trouble like this myself to prevent my wife becoming malu and vulnerable. Their trouble is with me, so they should deal with me, no matter how bad my indonesian is…

“Niets zo zinvol als nutteloosheid” – H.F.V.M. Finkers

Posted @ 29-12-2006 12:29

Ah what a relief to read reactions like these 3 above. Still some common sense on this forum.
Happy 2007.

Posted @ 31-12-2006 00:51

Its great to get all these reactions actually.

All the replys have just confirmed my initial thoughts.

Dammed if you do dammed if you dont.

Take your passport as you should, risk paying to get it back or lossing it or stolen.

Dont take your passport and risk paying to get out of doing something that really is breaking the law(not having ID).

All the same next time I will take my passport.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: