How I love the police

OK so I love the band the Police, but this was going to be yet another test of my nerves on this 100th world record attempt, meeting the Indonesian police force – with all the rumours around brutality and bad treatment by them, I was in some trepidation over what may happen.

After another bouncy, high-speed journey in another people mover, crossing deforested patches, passing through lean-to villages and dodging a wide variety of both living and non-living “traffic”, we entered Singkawang. Again, it was night. I had nowhere to stay so I asked for directions to the police station. That’s when the interrogations began.

If ever I’d feared the Indonesian Police, it was nowI was made to stand at attention, show my passport which was passed from officer to officer, was questioned about the usual things, and had a total of 14 photos taken of me as identifying evidence by 6 police officers. My passport was photographed on mobile phones, I was asked about my intentions and what was in my bag, why I wasn’t staying in hotels where other white men stayed overnight, and why I had come to Indonesia. The questions seemed to go on for a good hour.

To lighten the mood (and because periodically I’d twitched and grimaced in pain as the fishing line constricted around some flesh), I decided to share news of my world record attempt. Was that a mistake! He questioning intensified, and now I had all 11 police officers in the room frowning, staring nowhere else than at my privates. I felt a wee bit intimidated, to be honest.

A quiet officer, I was sure was the senior private investigator, held his mobile to my face and snapped a shot with the flash on. He was holding a file that had been opened on me, bearing photocopies of my identity and with hand-written notes being added every few minutes. I was tired, still dizzy, hungry and I really wanted to lie down. I shuffled on my feet, hoping the hint would be noticed, but it wasn’t.

A stream of policemen came to see me, and finally one said I was to follow him to my sleeping place. At last! I was ushered to the on-site mosque and told to sleep on the mat on the floor. I knew this was a privilege, since I am not Muslim. I felt honoured. In fact, I was surprised I was allowed to set foot into the mosque, but found it amusing when a toad came hopping along the inside wall while 3 officers watched me brush my teeth. I bet that amphibian wasn’t Muslim either.

I was told what to do, when and how. I obeyed since I’d heard vicious stories about the Indonesian Police. I was watched carefully every minute. It made me fear I had walked myself into a den of bribery and horror. Nevertheless, I drifted off to sleep on the thin mat after another 30-minute series of questions I had to answer very carefully to avoid trapping myself with words somehow.

I was woken early, still tired, and told the police chief was waiting for me and his support staff had left meetings of their own to witness the meeting. A bolt of fear began to swell in my stomach and I wanted to call for help. But nobody would hear. I tried not to show my worry and walked gingerly in between my 2 police escorts; one was armed. If ever I’d feared the Indonesian Police, it was now: I’d slept there and now they could use that favour as a leverage advantage from me. I clutched my mobile phone, my only means of contact with the Indonesian Police headquarters in Jakarta, where I had an emergency contact arranged.

1 Comment

  1. am

    good luck with yoir journey in brunei al..i hope you stay well for your journey and stay safe..i welvome you to brunei and have a good day in brunei..

    am..friend from brunei..


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