War on Gambling, Batam Blues

Jan 10th, 2006, in News, by

Americans are not the only people who conduct wars on social ills. Muslims in Indonesia are right up there in this respect as seen in the recent campaign against gambling dens in Jakarta, and it appears, the island of Batam, off Singapore, as well.

Tourist numbers to the resort island, well known as a place for Malaysian and Singaporean men to come and indulge in various dubious pleasures, dropped off in 2005 to the tune of 500,000 fewer visitors as compared to 2004.

While some attribute blame for this on the incidences of terrorism in the country the chief of the Batam tourism office Arifin Nasir said the crackdown on gambling was the main culprit. Horse’s mouth:

The main reason was the closure of the gambling dens.

An official of the Batam Hotel and Restaurant Association, one Anas, said he had long ago warned the local government to stop relying on gambling and prostitution as the main attractions of the island. He said efforts should be made to promote the culture of the island as a drawcard. The erstwhile visitors, the Malaysian and Singaporean men, are unlikely to be drawn back by this we imagine but a better class of tourist may be. If only the island were to float away from Indonesia it would possibly have more luck in the tourism beauty stakes.

8 Comments on “War on Gambling, Batam Blues”

  1. Felis says:

    “If only the island were to float away from Indonesia it would possibly have more luck in the tourism beauty stakes.”

    What tourists attractions can the island offer (apart form the naughty bit)?

  2. David says:

    To be honest I don’t really know, never been there. It’s known as some kind of free-trade area, there is a lot of foreign investment. With that sort of money sloshing around there you’d think they could manage something. It’s got such as a great location near Singapore and Malaysia.

  3. Purba Negoro says:

    It’s a total dive. So indescribably sleazy, it makes Jalan Jaksa seem squeaky clean and a model of decorum. Blok M would be the Ritz.

    It’s 90%+ Chinese gangster money- there is nothing really there aside from brothels, escorts, more brothels, up-scale brothels, gambling dens, nudey bars, seedy nightclubs which are also gambling dens and brothels, golf clubs which are also hotels and brothels, and some more brothels.
    And that’s the nice part.

    The crappy part is slums, really rough bars, even rougher bars, brothels, very rough brothels and very rough losmen for sailor crew. Many poor Chinese, Philippines, Indian, Indonesia, Russian, Poles, Turks, Ukraine sailors there on furlough or awaiting next crew posting on tanker etc

    A place awash with scum and seaman, indeed it is.

  4. Andy says:

    And how would you know Purba, been a visitor at some of these establishments?

    Seriously, I can’t say i’m an expert on the place but spent an afternoon there once and transitted a few times on the way to Singapore…

    I like the trip from there, nice ferry ride and for those who say Batam is a dive, it is far cleaner and better planned than Jakarta. I saw very few slums, many housing estates and new suburbs being built and the air and sea ports are much nicer than Sukarno-Hatta Airport in Jakarta. A beer in Batam ariport is around 12,000 rp compared to 35,000 rp in Jakarta. The taxis there have set prices (set by the local government)meaning it is harder to rip off bule travelling around town. A tip though- it costs 70,000 rp from the sea port to the airport but if you only cross the road to the big mega mall you save 10,000 rp.

    Main reason I preferred this trip was the immigration staff are much friendlier and it breaks up the trip doing the lovely ferry ride which lands right in the heart of Singapore rather than out in the sticks (where Changi airport is).

  5. Girl Power says:

    Purba is correct. Yes there are a few nice hotels and so on, but Batam is nothing but sleeze. It is and has always been known for this. It’s where men go to buy women because they cant get a woman any other way, or their egos get off on it. Batam is tailored for men (the yuk ones), it’s where there are no boundaries and more importantly no wives.
    The women (involved in the above) all have that same slutty look.
    It’s a shame, it really could have been a great island, if they had of stopped it before it was developed into what it is today.
    I find it amusing that Indonesia can have such strict religous views on one hand, then allow a place like Batam?? Obviously money is the reason.
    In my opinion there are plenty of nicer places to go in Asia.

  6. Andy says:

    Yes girlpower the number one religion in Indonesia is $$$.

    But I still say Batam is not such a bad place and I never saw the seedier side of it. Didn’t go right into the city, most of my time there has been in the seaport on the way to Sing. Definitely cleaner and better maintained than slumsville Jakarta.

  7. teresa goodman says:

    just read about batam island its really helped me understand things…my husband worked there for two years and now has married a muslim girl and has a baby to her, all this without me knowing by the way..14 yrs of marriage down the drain loved the bit about male ego so true!!

  8. The swamp people says:

    Doing business is a nightmare. The police is supposed to protect their workers and keep criminal behind bars.. If everything can be settled using money, I suppose the rich will use money to save the poor from being bullied. Which means the written law is a mockery in itself cos money can used. Correctly or incorrectly. Ultimately the poor loses out.

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