Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly, who oversees matters related to immigration in the country, has something to say about the increasing number of foreign nationals riding motorbikes on the streets of Bali without helmets: they simply copy what locals do.
Speaking at a work meeting with members of House of Representatives (DPR) Commission III overseeing law, security, and human rights in Jakarta, Yasonna touched upon the subject of an increasing number of reports about unruly Russian tourists caught violating local laws, such as traffic regulations.
Yasonna said that many tourists have been living in Bali for too long and have adapted to the ways of the locals.
"Some of the behaviors of our people have been adapted by them, [such as] riding motorbikes without wearing helmets," he said on Wednesday.
According to the Denpasar Police, between March 19 and 25 in Denpasar alone, 43 out of 365 people who were caught by the police for not wearing basic safety gear were foreigners. Indeed, 17 amongst them were Russians.
Yasonna said Bali has been especially popular among Russians after Indonesia last year reopened its borders to international tourists in order to heal a tourism sector battered by the pandemic.
However, Yasonna also said that as of March 27, the number of Russian nationals in Bali had decreased by 30 percent from 29,617 people to 19,530 people. Only 57 of them were deported and 259 were slapped by administrative sanctions.
Bali Governor Wayan Koster recently announced that he had sent an official letter to the Ministry of Law and Human Rights asking for Russia and Ukraine to be removed from the list of countries eligible for visas on arrival (VOA) when visiting Indonesia.
Yasonna confirmed in the work meeting that he had received the letter, acknowledging that a similar request from several hotel businesses has also been received. However, the minister has not stated whether the central government would follow through with the request.