Security in Indonesia

### Home Security ###

When you arrive in Indonesia, Security is not something you notice immediately. The airport is just like any other, except maybe a little more old-fashioned and less orderly than I am used to. My hosts immediately warned me to guard my bags, as it was dark – and crowded. I am always a little paranoid about my things, but of course I heeded their advice.

171However, once I got to drive through the city (again courtesy of my hosts) I saw what they meant. A picture speaks more than a thousand words, after all. I already mentioned that some of the housing we passed by was little more than shacks patched together from bits of discarded materials. With poverty that rampart, one would also expect crime to be rather high. And what I saw of the more permanent houses seems to confirm this.

Many buildings have high fences, often with pointy ends on top, most of the time also topped with lines of barbed wire. Balconies are usually guarded against people climbing over from neighboring balconies – which is also not too uncommon in some neighborhoods in Germany. What is uncommon in Germany are fences on the roof, or balconies which are completely covered by an iron fence.

### Hotel and Mall Security ###

Hotels and shopping malls have their own additional security policies. This was implemented after the bombing attacks, and is supposed to stop any would-be terrorist in its track. As a car arrives, it is stopped by security guards. The trunk is opened, and guards look under the vehicle by means of a mirror. Sometimes the guards also hold what looks like a portable metal detector against any suspiciously-looking pieces of luggage. Drivers are also handed a slip of paper that must be returned when leaving; this seems to be happening also when you don’t have to pay for the privilege of parking.

Entering my hotel, I also have to let a guard check my luggage. Of course sometimes the security guard wasn’t around and people just walked in. And when his metal detector sensed something he simply felt my beg without opening it. I may not be an expert at preventing bob attacks, but I seriously doubt a bomb could be “felt”.

The car-checks similarly seem rather ineffective. If I really wanted to smuggle a bomb in, I could easily do so, simply by stowing it under a seat. I realize of course that – especially with the car-checks – a compromise has to be made between security and inconvenience to the passengers and drivers. And it does have the advantage of having security right on site. However it does feel very silly. It doesn’t really raise the bar for attacks, however – and it may provide a false sense of security to the people on location.

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