Mafia Hukum For Expats

Mafia Hukum for Expats


Even though the Task Force for Eradication of the Law Mafia has now been dismantled, we bring it up here for a reason: many expatriates, even those who have lived in Indonesia for years, have never heard the term Mafia Hukum or Law Mafia. But clearly it is real, it is crippling to the Indonesian legal system, and it arouses anger, frustration, and fear in the Indonesian public.

The two main sources of legal information for most expatriates in Indonesia are law firms and real estate offices. Reputable businesses inform their clients fully about the Indonesian legal environment. But sometimes, reading some promotional websites, you might receive the impression that a little care in choosing your lawyer and researching laws about land ownership, business establishment, or marriage will overcome any possible difficulties in the law. When advisors fail to explain fully the situation, and especially fail to explain the Law Mafia, expatriates can be left with unrealistic expectations.

In later chapters we will explore law and real estate businesses in more detail. But it is worth a note here that these businesses sell products—land or services—which some might feel would have weaker markets if expatriate customers doubted their competence. Some villa developers, for instance, might fear that they would have fewer sales if they could not assure their buyers that their real estate titles and the legal advice behind them were secure.

The result is that expatriates often feel that corruption is a distant problem, an inconvenience or expense which may affect them by requiring a small extra payment at immigration or customs.

The reality is they could lose everything—villa, business, land, children—and end up fleeing Indonesia for their lives.

There are good reasons to buy land, start business, or marry in Indonesia. But secure investment or safety under law are definitely not among them.