Tuesday, 25 April 2017

INDONESIA: Singaporeans Arrested In Police Swwops In Batam Nightspots

A group of six Singaporeans were among 35 foreigners rounded up by the Indonesian authorities during random raids on nightspots in Batam over the weekend.

A group of six Singaporeans were among 35 foreigners rounded up by the Indonesian authorities during random raids on nightspots in Batam over the weekend.

The operation, which started last Saturday and ended in the early hours of Sunday, was led by the local immigration authorities and supported by navy personnel.

The Singaporeans included a 16-year-old student and at least three youths, who were on holiday in Batam.

They were among a total of 27 men and eight women,all foreign nationals - who were detained because they could not produce their passports during the raid at Kampung Bule, an entertainment area in Batam which foreigners are known to frequent.

Most of the revellers were released after they were able to get their travel documents from their hotels for verification. A few remain in custody as investigations continue.

Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it "understands that four Singaporean tourists in Batam were initially unable to produce their passports during a check by the local authorities on April 22 as they had left their passports in the hotel".

"They were allowed to return to Singapore with no charges pressed after they produced their passports. The Singapore Consulate in Batam provided the necessary consular assistance to the Singaporeans," said a ministry spokesman.

Video footage of the operation, captured by local news station Gurindam TV, showed an altercation between a naval officer and a group of Caucasian women outside a nightclub.

Meanwhile, As many people from the countryside move to Vientiane seeking more opportunity in their work and hoping to improve their living standards, On Phimphisone’s family are attempting to live in a different way.

Ms On was born and grew up in Nongping village, Chanthabouly district, Vientiane until she was married.

Her relative, a member of the police force on Don Thao Island, then suggested for her to buy handicrafts such as sticky rice baskets, bamboo rice platters, wooden pestles, rattan stools, and other items from wrong-doers on Don Thao and Don Nang islands in Nam Ngum dam reservoir and sell them in a shop in Vientiane.

Don Thao is an island in Nam Ngum, Keo-oudom district, Vientiane province which used to imprison males while women were sent to another island nearby call Don Nang. On the islands, police taught the prisoners some technical job skills such as those of a carpenter or in handicraft making.

Revenue from selling the handicrafts to shops in Vientiane was not good first because of the competition from other handicraft sources which made prices too low, Ms On explained.

However, she continued her job of selling the wares even though she didn’t earn much money from it - she felt she had no choice.

That is until five years ago when relatives auctioned a spot on Xong Khap Island - one of the many others islands in Nam Ngum – after which her family moved to the island to sell handicrafts, she says.

Now, there are many kinds of handicrafts being sold at her shop where the price starts from 10,000 kip all the way up to 300,000 kip, depending on size, materials, and patterns.

There are five shops on the island, where handicrafts are sold in three. The others consist of a local fish product shop, selling dry and pickled sour fish, and a small drink stall which provides some kinds of bottled drinks, snacks, and sometimes locally found wild fruit like somfod.

Although the total sales at each shop are kept separate, sales will be divided and an equal amount of those sales given to each shop at the end of the year, Ms On explains.

Since Nam Ngum dam reservoir has become a popular tourism site in recent years the total amount of her sales at her shop has been increasing.

There are many ferry boats that moor off her island everyday and the number only increases on weekends.

She says she can sell about one million kip in a working day or five million kip on the weekend or sometimes more than twelve million kip on national holidays.

The profits from her total sales can feed her family well, while her husband is busy fishing to sell his catch directly to tourists which increases the revenue of the family as well.

Unfortunately when thunderstorms happen in the Nam Ngum I cannot sell any products because most of the customers travel by ferry boat and are aware of the safety risks, she said.

The bulk of her products are from Don Thao and Don Nang Islands but she does also order some rattan baskets from Vangmon village, in the same district and province which she hopes will offer more choice and attract more tourists to her shop in the long run.

Tourists usually call Nam Ngum the “Lao Sea” because of its size and how the water will turn to green or blue when taking a photo.

Tourists are mainly from Laos, China, Vietnam and South Korea while some are from Europe countries.

The Xong Khap Island is the biggest spot in the area for handicraft products, Ms On notes.

I love living here because of the good-natured atmosphere and because it’s not too crowded like my home town while the temperature is usually not too hot.

In the future, she will continue running her shop as long as she can continue the shared revenue with the other shops on the island and the tourists are still visiting this lovely destination.
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