Between 1967 and 1998, Indonesia was ruled by the dictator Suharto (not to be confused with, whose main motive was to drain as much wealth out of the country as he possibly could while staying in power. Suharto was a military man, and consequently, he found his largest support base in the armed forces. The logical next step was to reduce the police to a second rate institution, underfunded, barely functional and most importantly, no threat to the army. Today, the effects of the Suharto legacy persist in corruption and impressive levels of incompetence. One telling incident involved my friend having her blackberry stolen through a con. She was scammed by a team, a guy and his 'fiance'. Claiming to want English lessons for their whole company, the guy then asked for my co-workers phone so he could direct his 'boss' to the place. Feigning low battery and poor reception, he walked out of the resto they were in ostensibly looking for better signal. With that, he was gone, leaving his 'fiance' behind. So, this was my co-workers course of action. She called out every friend she had, she escorted the captured fiance to the police station, and the only thing they would do without a bribe was let us, the citizens, rifle through the belongings of the fiance. I asked if they had any record on her (she clearly seemed to be an experienced con artist) and was told that the police in Indonesia don't have a database! In the end we didn't get the phone back. Another incident, which I only heard of, involved my friend's brother. Driving through a village, he hit a local on a motorbike. A very large group of villagers gathered around him and told him that if he didn't pay up $2000 (a fortune here) he wouldn't be leaving the village any time soon. Take into account, the victim did need hospital treatment, but he wasn't dead or crippled for life. Without having recourse to law, the villagers took it into their own hands.
FOLLOW UP: The other night, I got stopped in a police check and the police tried to get a bribe out of me. As they pulled over our taxi, I could hear them both saying "bule, bule". Clearly they thought they were in for a pay day. Luckily I was with my friend Tasha who gave them a successful fuck you look as she told them that my documents were in order so they'd better hand them back. The jr. officer still tried to press his claim saying "money, money" but the sr. officer shooed him away and despondently handed back all my id.