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Jakarta Post

Bali sees rise in illegal foreign workers

  • Desy Nurhayati

    The Jakarta Post

Denpasar   /   Sat, November 29, 2014   /  10:19 am

Bali'€™s popularity as an international tourist destination has enticed more foreigners to try their luck at making money on the island. Unfortunately, many of them choose to take the easy way by misusing their tourist visas.

The Ngurah Rai Immigration Office has found a growing trend of foreigners working on the island under tourist visas. From January to October this year, the office had cracked down on 121 foreigners violating the immigration law and all of them had been deported.

'€œThe number is a significant increase from the 70 people we sanctioned throughout last year,'€ office head Cucu Koswala said on Thursday.

He attributed the increase to the intensive efforts by a special joint team consisting of 40 officers from the Immigration Office and several other related institutions detailed to crack down on illegal foreign workers.

'€œThey take advantage of the weak supervision, thinking that there would be no problem if they work under tourist visas. But they might be unaware that we have been conducting more intense operations,'€ he said.

Earlier this week, on Nov. 25 and 26, the joint team arrested 11 foreigners during a two-day operation carried out in three districts: Kuta, North Kuta and South Kuta. All 11 of them failed to show the required work permits.

The 11 foreigners '€” consisting of two US nationals, three Australians, one Japanese, four Norwegians and one British citizen '€” were arrested in four different workplaces: an English First school, Gateway College, the Blue Point Hotel and the Luna Hotel.

Ten of them will be deported immediately for having misused their visas on arrival by working in the country.

The 11th, an Australian named Jessica Lee Cook, was not deported because she holds a KITAS (Temporary Stay Permit) and is in the process of obtaining an IMTA (expatriate employment permit), although she had already started working as an operations manager at a hotel.

On Nov. 22, the Immigration Office caught five Turkish nationals at three hotels for violating the immigration law. They were working as pre-wedding photographers in the hotels, without possessing official work permits.

'€œOur officers worked undercover by disguising as clients of the photography service. We managed to get their immigration documents, as well as photos and videos related to their activities,'€ Cucu said.

Two of them, Omer Aksoz and Mustafa Mercan, were arrested at the Grand Nikko Hotel and the other two, Salih Gunay and Mehmet Serdar Bayir, at the InterContinental Hotel. Meanwhile, the fifth, Erkan Yildiz, escaped from the Conrad Hotel where the officers had searched for him, but was later caught at a rented house in Jimbaran.

Earlier on Nov. 11, Australian John Peter Domenic Rigano was arrested while he was teaching at an English course in Jimbaran. Further investigation revealed that he had previously been charged in a number of criminal cases, including one involving sexual harassment, in his home country. Officers said he would be deported in Nov. 28.

The chairperson of the Bali Tourism Workers Association, Putu Satyawira Marhaendra, earlier said tight supervision of foreigners working in Bali was of the utmost importance.

He said the presence of illegal foreign workers could harm the chances for locals to thrive in their homeland.

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