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Be good, lawful guests

Jakarta Post Editorial - March 25, 2023

Jakarta – Authorities of Bali are cracking down on delinquent behaviors of foreign nationals, launching a special police operation last week. While we support the measures, we are calling the local administration to go beyond ad hoc means.

March marks one year since one of the world's most popular tourist destinations reopened to foreign visitors after two years of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the coronavirus seems to be at bay now, another virus has begun plaguing the island, known by many as a safe haven for those seeking fun and lately income.

On March 17, the Bali Police launched an operation targeting foreign nationals who committed crimes or violated the law and order, amid an increasing number of foreigners showing bad behavior while in Bali.

So far this year, at least 45 foreigners have been deported from the island for various violations, including overstaying their visa and working illegally.

The operation involved the police, immigration office, tourism agency, tax office, transportation agency, manpower agency, public order police, tourism association and customary security guards.

Foreign visitors of Bali with notorious behavior have made the headlines lately, with reports of them working without permit, overstaying their visa and causing social disturbances. Apparently, the violations have been so rampant that the Bali administration felt necessary to take tough actions through the five-day raid.

Three units were deployed in the operation. The first targeted traffic rules violations, the second focused on breaches of the labor law, and the third set sight on illegal possession of drugs and weapons and other crimes.

As if to justify the law enforcement measures, the Indonesian social media has been flooded with videos of tourists acting unbecoming on the island.

Earlier this month, Bali Governor Wayan Koster proposed to the Foreign Ministry and the Law and Human Rights Ministry to end the visa-on-arrival facility for visitors from Russia and Ukraine, citing reports of bad behavior and possible acts of crime allegedly committed by tourists from the two warring countries.

Koster then announced a regulation banning foreign tourists from renting motorbikes to travel in Bali and only allowing them to use cars operated by local tour agents.

We commend the Bali administration for the firm policies. It is just the common rule that foreign visitors are obliged to behave, respect and obey the local laws and norms.

If other countries can force visitors to adhere to their rules, then Bali should be able to do the same.

We believe those rascals are a few bad apples spoiling the bunch. But we need to keep in mind that with a total of 331,912 foreign visitors recorded coming into the island in January alone, a fraction of that group is already too many.

To friends from abroad, please do not mistake Bali people's hospitality and tolerance as an invitation to spend your time on the beautiful island with reckless abandon.

That being said, delinquent behavior and criminal acts by foreign nationals should not be solely blamed on the visitors.

Tourists see, tourists do. As we point a finger to the visitors, there are three fingers pointing back at us. Lest we forget, opportunity makes the thief.

We are calling Bali and the Indonesian administrations, as well as Bali residents and Indonesian citizens to play the part of good and lawful hosts.

As an example, a Syrian and a Ukrainian man were apprehended last month for allegedly illegally obtaining Indonesian identity cards and family cards in Bali. But at least four Indonesians are also implicated in the case, including two administrative officers in Denpasar and an Indonesian Military (TNI) officer. There have also been reports of police officers extorting foreigners who broke traffic regulations.

If Bali is to become a wholesome place for both the local residents and the visitors, then the government needs to improve services to foreign visitors and seriously uphold the law, or else Bali's reputation will be at risk.

We stick to the belief that every host gets the guests they deserve.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/opinion/2023/03/24/be-good-lawful-guests.htm