27 March 2007

Exasperation in obtaining passports in Indonesia

Yulius Nurendra Efendi

MY EXPERIENCE in obtaining passports in Indonesia at the Surakarta immigration office has made me aware of how shoddy and corrupt this country is. It started when an overseas friend invited me to attend a meeting that later pushed me to have a passport document.

On October 18, 2006 I reached the Surakarta immigration office. I brought with me all required documents. In the front wall it was clearly mentioned the conditions, procedures, costs and fees required for having diverse migration-related documents. But you expected things would be clear and quick, certainly.

As I entered into the office, many brokers have already crowded the room. They offered service that promises to finish the passport making quicker. Of course this was not a free service but one would have to pay more to those brokers. Those brokers asked fees that were two times higher than normal, official one that was only Rp200.000. But because I wanted to do it myself since the beginning, I did not care about them. In fact if I take their service, they could help process only in one day. Yet, the official stipulation as mentioned in that front wall it needed two days to finish the passport.

First, I took the passport application form that cost me Rp10,000. I did not get any receipt for this payment. This is the first irregularity that I found.

After I completed the form, I submitted form including other required documents. In the further process, the officials verified the documents. Another irregularity soon took place. Although my documents were complete, it seemed to me the official would like to show me a loophole. I did not understand what he meant, actually. My birth certificate that I included as required was questioned. The official asked me to include my last education certificate. This meant that I had to get back to that office the day after because I did not bring with me that certificate. In fact as written in the announcement wall, birth and education certificates were only optional requirement. I should only submit either one.

The day after when I brought already my education certificate, the official even ignored that paper just like that. Not even once that certificate was asked. I felt a bit harassed. I became a bit nervous at the next step all my documents were almost lost as they were among other submitted applications. The official only started processing after I urged him, although for that I had to wait longer.

The next step concerned about the passport photo that I had to pay Rp55,000. Now I got a receipt for it. But I realized a weird thing happened as I saw another applicants who came much later than me yet he was given quicker turn to take picture. I realized then that the victims of brokerage were not only those who took the broker’s service but also other applicants who took normal procedure. We were put at farther turn at the back than those who paid more to the brokers.

After the picture was taken, the officials again seemed wanting to prolong time. With the pretext that the next step was to wait for the approval of the central immigration office in Jakarta, the officials asked me to wait for another week. At the time I fully understood as we, Indonesians, were approaching the high season of Idul Fitri.

I ponder upon what happened to me. My ignorance of the procedural process had pushed me to just say yes to what the officials asked. Many applicants must have endured bad experience like this. Because applicants could not monitor what happened to the submitted documents had turned them into a lame duck.

On October 30, 2006, as the officials had earlier promised, I went back to the office. Indeed the service flow was very slow. Now they gave an excuse that it had to be processed in several administration desks, I had to wait and wait again. It was an urge within me to ask them again and again while protesting the sluggish bureaucratic practice. How far my documents had been processed?

I think this is an institutional corruption. (comments from --ambar--)

I had to wait for four hours before the passport was completed. We had to pay Rp205,000 consisting of Rp200,000 for the cost of the passport document and Rp5,000 for the fingers print fee. If you count right from the beginning to the end, the total sum of fee required was Rp270,000. In fact the announcement says only Rp200,000. Only through normal, official procedures, you will have to pay more than actually required. What if you take the service of those brokers? I overheard them saying they paid from Rp500,000 to Rp600,000 to get the passport in one or two days. Is this my Indonesia?**

1 comment:

--ambar-- said...

I have to admit that obtaining a passport in Indonesia indeed a picture of low level corruption in this country. I had to go everyday, arguing with officer even have to make sure they give me the correct fee. I think this is an institutional corruption.

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