Thu, 27 Apr 2000

Observations and suggestions

I have had the privilege of residing in Indonesia for over a year. This is a great country, especially its vast and rich culture. The following personal observations seem rather "unique" and I wish to share them with fellow readers.

First, the use of the entry immigration card when a foreigner issued with a residential permit of six months is leaving Indonesia; if I am not mistaken, it also applies to Indonesian citizens. If indeed such a card is required for immigration control purposes, shouldn't a new card, appropriately named an "exit" card, be used instead?

Second, the acceptance of U.S. dollar bills. Why is it that these notes which are legal tender are only accepted if they are crisp, of newer release, free from markings, etc.?

Third, the rule barring ownership of vehicles by foreigners. Why is it that they are prohibited from owning one? Such a policy does not make economic sense. At the end of the day, it is not difficult to imagine how this problem could be easily circumvented, i.e. by registering under an Indonesian's name, thereby making the process a cumbersome one.

Fourth, the billing of telephone charges in Bandung. It seems rather strange that if one were to pay telephone bills by transfer, the telephone company need only liaise with the user's bank, which in turn would deduct the necessary charges incurred. Doesn't it make sense that while the telephone company deals directly with the bank concerned, this process is transparent to the user.

On the other hand, in the name of quality service, shouldn't the user be sent the telephone bill by the telephone company as well? The user should not be inconvenienced in his request from his bank or to refer to his banking statement. Aren't they two different issues?

Fifth, the payment of bills at shopping centers, eateries, etc. It is not uncommon for certain counters within the shopping centers to issue bills and the customers must pay at the cashier first, before returning to the counters to pick up their items. Doesn't such a system breed inefficiency and perhaps also discourage potential customers, especially if the queues are long? Perhaps such counters should be given more autonomy or flexibility.

Sixth, timing for purchasing movie theater tickets. In Jakarta (perhaps other places too), it is not uncommon for movie theaters to open their ticketing booths only half an hour before the movie's screening time. Doesn't such a practice go against economic sense? Assuming the movie is a hot release, it is not difficult to imagine the long queues that would have been formed.

Would all the seats be sold out within half an hour? Wouldn't potential customers be discouraged from viewing as a result of the dauntingly long queues? For shows which are less popular, doesn't this reduce the profit margin as opposed to a system where the tickets could be purchased any time rather than within a space of half an hour, or better still via telephone and Internet bookings?

The above observations are purely based on my personal experience and are not meant to be in any way negative.