Mon, 12 Jun 2000

Fabrication of traffic violation

Last month I was driving along Jl. Kuningan when I was flagged down by a police officer standing in the road. He told me I had violated the traffic lane markings, crossing a continuous white line. This, he said, was very clearly marked on the road.

It was 20 meters down a busy intersection and too dark for me to verify. The officer also agreed. I was informed there were two choices available for me. Pay a fine in court or pay the policeman on the spot. The on-the-spot "fine" was Rp 200,000 -- a price in which the expat occupants in the vehicle were taken into account. The officer took my driving license and warned me that the police were not liable if I were to be stopped later without my license. The on-the-spot fee came down to Rp 162,200, when I questioned the fee. Despite the intimidation, I opted to be given a ticket and go to court. The officer became very cross while writing out the ticket.

Later, in broad daylight, I returned to the scene of the alleged traffic violation to find no unbroken line where the policeman indicated. Also, I have checked the ticket given to me and it states the fine is Rp 26,500.

This was a shameless fabrication of a traffic violation with extortion. Corruption, collusion and nepotism are alive and well in the day-to-day dealings with the police, the guardians of the citizens and residents of Jakarta. Sadly, I have no reason to believe things are going to change. I plan not to pay as I have not broken the law. I rate my chance of a successful outcome, based on the equally dubious court practices, as zero.