I spotted a nice little article in Kompas by a guest blogger named Budiman Hakim. Here’s a quick translation:
After having lunch at a restaurant in Sudirman (the main business district of Jakarta), a friend and I waked toward our office chatting. Suddenly, however, our conversion was interrupted by the sound of motorcyclists honking their horns behind us.
“Oi!!!! Get out the way asshole! Wanna die?,” screeched the motorcyclist.
It seems that because the traffic was so bad, many motorcyclists had taken to the sidewalk to quicken their journey. Because we felt we were doing nothing wrong, we ignored them. But then what happened?
Wack! A motorcyclist suddenly smashed his helmet against my back. Naturally I was mad and confronted him. But things rapidly got out of hand and we were soon embroiled in a fist fight.
Fortunately, however, a ******man quickly stepped in and broke up the fight.
A few minutes later - after we had calmed down and a small crowd had gathered - the ******man asked (to noone in particular) why the fight had erupted.
He was drawn to the errant motorcyclist and screeched at him. “You were wrong! You know that the sidewalk is for pedestrians and not motorcycles! I should fine you!”
(here is when the story takes a turn into some other world where normal logic does not apply)
Yet the motorcyclist was completely unfazed.
“Go ahead then. Fine me. But if you do, then you must fine all the other people here as well!”
He continued, “I warn you! Don’t fuck with me. I am a lawyer!!!”
So, did the ******man fine the motorcyclist? No, of course he did not. But he DID approach me.
“YOU are wrong! Why didn’t you let this motorcyclist go past freely?” “After all, if you had let him go past, this incident would not have happened. Please come with me!!!”
Although a simple story, it is a perfect example of how justice works (sic) in this part of the world and how it differs from what is known as justice in the “west” (however imperfect it may be there).
The facts of the case - although not entirely irrelevant - are also not the overriding concern when it comes to meting out “justice”.
What really matters is the power and status of the disputing parties.
This can explain many things. From relatively trivial matters – like when a negligent car driver knocked over my PARKED motorcycle (and I was told I was wrong because I was a foreigner and the driver of the car was not) to much more serious matters like when my friend’s girlfriend was mu*****ed at a university in Surabaya and the guilty party “let off” for having a ******* as a father.
And it can also explain why corrupters walk free and chicken thieves do not and also why junkie kids of politicians get rehab while foreign dope heads get the slammer.
And even why gun totting businessmen can sneak weapons into shopping malls and threaten to blast away disrespectful waiters!