Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Coincidence? Not really

On the same day that the results were released of an international survey that ranks the level of corruption in nations around the world, placing Indonesia 137th out of 158 nations (equal with Iraq), I had a friendly visit from some government officials on a fishing expedition.

Three uniformed officials from the Manpower Ministry (Dept of Labour) arrived unannounced at the office today and began by nosing around to find out the names of any expats on site. Given the amount of paperwork we expats have to fill in when we arrive here, I would have assumed that these guys would already know everything there is to know about us, and would have our birthdays on their desk calendar, but I may be wrong.

As soon as one of our staff gave them my name (the other two expats at our company were out of town today), they proceeded to make their way to my office and make themselves at home. Based on their line of questioning and the fact that all three had completely blank notebooks, but only one had a pen, I soon realised this was a pre-Lebaran (the annual festival that concludes the fasting month - an expensive holiday season for Muslims, just as Christmas is in western countries) shakedown to come up with some way to get money out of me or the company.

After writing down the names and job titles of our expats discussion turned to less formal matters, and in conversation the lead guy mentioned that his oldest child is studying in the US, and his second (of four) is studying in Australia. Given that public servants earn around $100 a month, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to work out how a guy like this manages to afford to put his kids through university overseas.

So, if you come across an Indonesian student at a university in Australia or the US, you can safely assume that one or another well known multinational company is funding that kid via an informal "scholarship".


Blogger Cullinary Palace said...

ozzie how are you mate

12:14 PM  
Anonymous Nick said...

Wow that's quite a judgement....

12:37 AM  

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