Saturday, May 14, 2011

In And Out Of The Immigration

Police at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport are investigating an Airport Immigration Official over an alleged extortion attempt and physical assault.
Police are trying to find out when and why he was beaten up.

Sr. Comr. Reynhard Silitonga, the head of the airport police, on Sunday identified the victim as 57-year old Chinese national Cheung Ho Chung..
The Jakarta Police said Cheung arrived from Hong Kong on a China Airlines flight at 2:53 p.m. on Friday.
He was waiting to get his passport stamped when an officer in charge asked him and other passengers for money.

“Seeing that the officer wanted arriving passengers to pay a bribe, Cheung set aside HK$20. But the officer refused and wanted him to pay HK$100. The officer said it was money for tea,” police said in statement issued Sunday.

He refused to give two officers from the airport’s Immigration Office the HK$100 that they demanded.
The officers attempted to take him away to a private room.
He refused to follow the officers who began to attack him.

“Two immigration officers ganged up on him, hit him in the face and choked him. He had a cut lip and a bruise on the neck,” police said.

The Pancoran Mas, Depok resident suffered cuts and bruises to his neck and face.

“When he refused to hand over the money, the immigration official took him to a separate room where he was ordered to sit before being assaulted,” police said, citing the victim’s complaint.

But the Immigration office has a different account of the scuffle.

Bambang Catur Puspitowarno, spokesman for the Directorate General of Immigration, said he refused to accept allegations made by the 57-year old man.

Upon arrival from Hong Kong at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport last Friday, Cheung was in the immigration line but he had not filled his immigration card out when he stood in line at the arrival desk.
He was asked to leave the line and fill out his card so he could get his passport stamped.

Bambang added that the officer asked him to fill out the arrival form in another room to stop holding up the long line at the immigration counter.
However, he did not go to the room downstairs but headed instead for the exit.

Immigration officers stopped him and asked him again to complete his form.

“The immigration officer also spotted the HK$20 enclosed in Cheung’s passport. He returned it and asked him to complete his arrival form,” Bambang told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

“He came back to the line. We thought he had finished filling out the form, but he had not,” Bambang said.

Cheung asked the officers to fill it out the form for him and slipped in HK$20.
The officers were insulted.
They pushed the money back to Cheung and asked him to go and fill out the form himself.

Cheung began to get angry, screaming at officers, insulting them by saying that HK$20 was apparently not enough.
Cheung was then being isolated him to calm him down.
He became abusive after the officers refused to accept an unasked-for bribe to fill out his immigration card for him.

He then began screaming at immigration officers, and they secured him.
It was only after he was secured that he filled out the form.

After his passport was stamped, as he was walking out of the airport, he was screaming and using abusive language.
Once again, he was secured by the immigration officers as he was attracting attention.
He was again released after he was talked to.

Upon his release, he suddenly got his camera out and started to take pictures.
Again, he was secured, as it is forbidden to take pictures at immigration.
A tussle ensued, but Bambang said Cheung was never hit him.

“He was trying to take photos, which is strictly prohibited. The officers grabbed him to stop him, maybe the camera hit his face,” Bambang said.
He was finally released after he was calmed.

Bambang Catur Puspitowarno, spokesman for the Directorate General of Immigration also denied the police statement that immigration officers attempted to seek a bribe.

The immigration office is perceived as one of the most corrupt government institution in the country, with numerous officials implicated in graft cases.
It was seen as a traditional safe haven for corrupt officials.

In January, Law and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar suspended 27 immigration officers following revelations that they issued a passport to graft convict Gayus H. Tambunan under an assumed name.

A new director general of immigration, Bambang Irawan, was appointed later that month with a mandate to combat corruption in the institution.


Gayus The Person Of The Year 
Putera Satria Sambijantoro

The American magazine TIME recently chose Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as its 2010 Person of the Year — an award designated for the person the magazine perceives as delivering the biggest impact on world society throughout 2010.
Some identify the award as simply America’s Person of the Year, as the magazine shrugged off its own online poll and chose a less popular American (Zuckerberg) over Australian whistleblower Julian Assange, who shocked world leaders with secrets leaked — and won 20 times more votes than Zuckerberg on the official TIME website.
If we are looking for Indonesia’s Person of the Year, former tax official Gayus H. Tambunan, who reportedly possesses bank accounts and assets worth Rp 100 billion (US$11 million) — stacked in various forms from cash to posh houses to his wife’s luxurious jewelry — would definitely stand a chance.
Sometimes crisis drives significant changes and improvements, and on very rare occasions, we should thank the person who brings the crisis to us in the first place.
Scoundrels give birth to heroes, and crises pave the path toward improvement. With his acts, Gayus obliquely fingered Indonesia’s notoriously corrupt administrators by exposing the weakness of Indonesia’s law and judicial system, leaving red-faced many top government officials at the Finance Ministry, Justice and Human Rights Ministry, the National Police and even the President himself.
While The Beatles once said that money can’t buy love, in 2010 Gayus proved the opposite, as the power of his money won the hearts and minds of officials from his detention center, as well as from the immigration office that help him evade the law.
If the National Police and Justice and Human Rights Ministry officials could turn back the time, perhaps they would not choose to arrest Gayus when he fled to Singapore in March, allowing him to stay at large instead. The arrest of Gayus marked the beginning of what would lead to incriminating exposures that slapped those organizations right in their faces, in turn pushing them harder to work on reform programs that they have always so half-heartedly implemented.
For government officials whose departments are embroiled in Gayus’s play, it has been a fast-paced, intrigue-plagued drama. Had Gayus not been born in this world to become a tax office hitman playing mockery on Indonesia’s system of law, Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar would not be forced to make any effort to reform his severely corrupt and dilapidated departments, whose performance he frequently boasts are “successful”.
Had Gayus not bribed the prison guards and police officers in charge at his detention center (and got busted later), the hidden and long-concealed defects of law enforcement in Indonesia would not be exposed before the national and international community alike. It is now proven more clearly than ever that rich and high-profile criminals in Indonesia have always had the ability to disregard justice and buy themselves out of prison, if the price is right
Finally, had Gayus not disguised himself for outings to Bali, Macau and Kuala Lumpur in 2010, the systems at Indonesia’s prisons and immigration bureau would not have been implicated and forced to transform, as we are observing right now.
It’s true that the government’s efforts to uphold equal justice for all Indonesians are still in progress following Gayus’s case, and the outcome is still far from perfect.
But thanks to Gayus, some minor progress in Indonesia’s law enforcement is beginning to materialize. If wealthy outlaws want to use the “temporary release service” for their holidays, for example, at least they will have to pay a much higher price as detention center officials are now facing higher risks of getting caught because the public’s scrutiny of the issue is far higher than before.
To be our Person of the Year, Gayus has no reason to feel inferior to a smart, Harvard-educated person like Zuckerberg. According to inside sources at the tax office interviewed by The Jakarta Post, Gayus is indeed a genius himself and reportedly boasts an extraordinarily high IQ of 147.
While his acts look both clever and dull at the same time, and hence may not necessarily reflect his IQ, they are indeed improving this country in many aspects — both in the short-term and for the long-run
For leaking to the public truths that have long been shrouded, for forcing disgraced government officials to implement a larger scope of bureaucratic reform, and for giving the media and public entertainment to savor, Mr. Gayus Halomoan Partahanan Tambunan is an obvious choice for Indonesia’s Person of the Year 2010.

The writer is a student at the University of Indonesia’s School of Economics. 

Source: The Jakarta Post - January 10, 2011


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