A lot of bloggers like to come up with lists, so I thought I’d give it a go and try and come up with something myself. The topic? Indonesia’s most absurd draft laws.

So here’s my top five:

1. The draft law on citizenship which requires foreigners to pay a Rp500 million ”bond” to marry an Indonesian women. And the government thought it was onto a good thing! Well at least until some bright spark told them mixed couples would either live in sin or simply go to Singapore and get married there instead!

2. The draft law on manpower which requires expats to take a TOEFL proficiency test in the Indonesian language. I’m quite confident that I’d pass though. Berapa saya harus.....?

3. The draft law on pornografi and ponoaksi which would make sunbathing in Bali illegal and even criminalize national dress such as the Javanese kebaya. Not to mention magazines like FHM which is a thousand times more racy than Playboy, but which up to now has faced no problems in publishing unlike its main competitor.

4. This one’s from the Suharto days: the draft law that banned the use of written English in public places. All signs, advertising and shop names had to use Indonesian. Indonesia grammar also had to be adopted rather than English grammar. The law, which was actually passed, cost Lippo Bank a small fortune as the bank had to rename itself Bank Lippo, thus requiring all its branch signs to be changed!!

5. The draft law making it a crime not to use the rupiah in transactions in Indonesia!!!

The director general for law and legislation at the Human Rights and Justice Ministry, A.A. Oka Mahendra, said that those who refused to use the local currency when conducting transactions within the country would be subject to legal proceedings under the provisions of the bill:

"There will be sanctions and penalties for those who refuse to use the rupiah in Indonesia," Mahendra said during a seminar on the bill on Monday.

He said that the requirement to use rupiah would help strengthen the value of the local unit against other currencies.

"So, if people, including foreigners, wish to conduct transactions in Indonesia, they will have to change their hard currency first into rupiah," Mahendra said.

Hahaha! Can you think of anything more wacky?

Just picture this: a Japanese tourist in Bali sees a really nice painting he wants to buy, so he agrees to a price of US$500. He then hands over the dosh, but unknown to him he’s being watched by a plainclothes policeman who arrests him for conducting a transaction in a foreign currency. Charges are pressed and he faces the next three years of his life with Corby in Kerobokan prison….


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