Debt Collection, RCTI Reality TV Style

Jun 3rd, 2009, in Opinion, by

Ross rails against hospital debt collectors on reality television.


Around 5.30pm on Saturday 30th May I was reading an account of the political situation in Bialystok – Polish Byelorussia – during the early 1980s (that’s what passes for fun-reading in the Ross household) when my attention was diverted to a programme on RCTI, called ‘Lunas dibayar’ (‘Paid in full’). I at first assumed it was another of those cinetrons, for it included several staples thereof, a poor widow with unpaid debts and two brutes in black demanding payment. But the quality of acting was superior, and my resident cinetron expert advised that it was the real thing.

I put aside my book and watched in mounting horror and rage as the thugs reduced the woman to tears, threatening to seize not only her meagre belongings but her actual children!

Lunas Dibayar

By that stage I was incensed, using language that would have been over-the-top in my recent insult duel with Achmad. “Who are these @#$@@**, anyway?” I asked, as their victim’s neighbours rallied to her side and were brusquely brushed off by the louts.

There was an unnecessary Indonesian text (everyone was speaking quite normally throughout the progamme) that identified them as ‘debt collectors,’ but given what happened next, I’m honestly not sure if they really were, or just hirelings of RCTI under orders to act like debt collectors, but whatever, they had the widow terrorised and the neighbours visibly alarmed.

Suddenly they broke off their bullying and said they’d be back in half an hour, at which time, if no money were forthcoming, they’d turn the intimidation into reality, and make off with her kiddies and the rest of whatever she possessed.

‘Why don’t they get the police?’ I growled, recognising that while the law might allow confiscation of material goods in a case of over-due debt, kidnapping was still presumably an offence in Indonesia. But my wrath was met with a shake of the head. Although I’ve lived here for years, I guess I haven’t fully adjusted yet to the total injustice which often prevails.

Anyway, being a recorded tv show, we didn’t have to wait 30 minutes for the outcome; next thing we knew, a cutie, clad all in angelic white, came trotting prettily along, and won cheers from the kampung by handing over the exact sum (Rp3,800,000, for those interested) so the debtor could pay off her bill.

Now clearly this whole escapade had been orchestrated. If RCTI knew of her plight before, and how else would said cutie have shown up in the nick of time, why did they choose to let the goons fill this poor lady’s heart with dread?

Reality TV

I think RCTI stinks, and any kudos they might deserve for paying off the bill is more than cancelled out by the way they exploited her tears to boost their viewing figures.

They knew the sum, they knew to whom it was owed, They could have paid it. No terror, no tears. And there was indeed a postscript. We got to see her going to pay the bill. Guess where she went?

A hospital! Unfortunately, the name of the RS concerned was not made plain, otherwise I’d be tempted to go out some night and daub it with protest slogans. These places are meant to be run by caring professionals, no? SO how come they’re collaborating with thugs and showbiz nitwits to harrass and hound a harmless woman?

I’ve had peripheral contact with ‘debt-collectors’ here (being of thrifty Scots ancestry, not for any debts of my own but because we were living in a house previously occupied by a family which had absconded without paying some bills) and I found the experience unpleasant, phone ringing at all hours, arrogant demands to identify myself without the callers being willing to offer the same courtesy.

I have also read in the press that various ‘reputable’ banks etc. employ hired hoods to chase debts.

Perhaps it’s time for some responsible TV company – that lets RCTI out – to name and shame the culprits, not the two-bit hoods but the so-called ‘great and good’ institutions who utilise them.

16 Comments on “Debt Collection, RCTI Reality TV Style”

  1. joao says:

    Now clearly this whole escapade had been orchestrated. If RCTI knew of her plight before, and how else would said cutie have shown up in the nick of time, why did they choose to let the goons fill this poor lady’s heart with dread?

    You know the answer already. Here’s the math: More tears+more drama = better ratings. No drama/ tears= low ratings. More ratings= more bucks. Problem solved. It’s precisely the kind of exploitative mentality which makes this country ‘great’.

  2. madrotter says:

    i’m not surprised by anything on tv anymore (although i fully agree with you on this one ross) i’m thinking back to the death of that poor dangdutsinger alda and how they put her on tv, or the time when that comedian died in a car accident and they went quickly to his house to film his wife when she got the telephonecall and they kept filming and filming while this poor woman broke down and went hysterical. they came to her house acting like they had an interview with her husband knowing full well what happened… or these horrible police programs where you can see people beaten up horribly being forced to crawl on their knees for stealing a chicken… or how about that reality show where this girl comes home, the whole family taken hostage somebody on the floor knifed and bleeding to death and then when she completely breaks down they inform her that it’s all a joke…

    anybody who saw the famous empat mata show where first that canibal was interviewed and then this harelipped jakartan homeless girl ate these huge live frogs alive and big raw fish? that was pretty entertaining!

  3. Astrajingga says:

    Anyone care to write to KPI, or at least to reader’s letter in national newspaper?

  4. David says:

    There’s a synopsis of that episode here, says the woman’s kid was treated for dengue fever, doesn’t say what hospital though.

  5. Brother Mouzone says:

    @ Joao

    It’s precisely the kind of exploitative mentality which makes this country ‘great’.

    Reality TV is exploitative everywhere, not just here in Indonesia. Whether it’s poking fun at fat people on The Biggest Loser, laughing at mentally ill people on American Idol/The X Factor, or the particularly horrible example from Indonesian TV that Ross has described here. It’s a load of rubbish, barely removed from the Victorian freak shows it is based on.

    It’s also rarely “real”.

  6. a-matter-of-fact says:

    This is to mean that the Indonesian police are doing nothing and I am pretty sure some of them or army personnel could be involve.

    If the police cannot handle such a situation then they might as well scrap whatever your pancasila law.

    As far as credit are concern, it is either they are collaterals or non collateral credit. If it is collateral then the banks could go ahead and proceed to get the person sue or place a lien on the property and g on with the law.

    Otherwise when it is non collateral credit the bank cannotouch them therefore they are using force retrievals.


    The person can go ahead and make a police report that they were beig harassed by these people and hold the banks liable for harassments and intimidation.
    They could go ahead and sue them for the payments but it is no use when tse people have no money to repay the bank.

    Normally banks in other countries sell off their debt to debt collection agency and for them to continue negotiating repayments etc. Even if they have sold the bad debts it does not necessarily man the debtor owes the debt collection agency. Because the debtor did not sign anything or use anything belonging to the det collection agency. Otherwise the bank usually write them off as bad debt.

    This is one thing Indonesia cannot get out of their own financial crisis is because they kept holding to those that are lost and still consider by mountin them onto their assets and considered outstanding.

    And one thing it is what Indonesian academians and economist are good for I suppose.

  7. BacKStbrZ says:

    i think tivi stinks….. but it still has info… its just how you recieve the info…

    I assume that black box is some kinda diamond covered with shit…..


    do you eat all the shit or you filter it for the diamonds before…..

    Internet?? No dif…. 😀

    BTW, if i had a chance to kick all producers of reality shows in Indonesia… I would hapilly aim for the nuts…. FYI… With Major Strength…

  8. retarders says:


    Not only in Indonesia, here in the USA, new reality shows are emerging with similar motives/ scripting. Enter: Operation Repo, a show that was imported from Hispanic television show with the same name and same cast members.

    You will see that clearly what they are doing is simply against the law (or pushing the envelope I should say). It makes me wonder sometimes how can someone just trespass into another’s property and start repo-ing their car/ vehicle.

    All of this translated to more ratings though in the very end, and that is how they played their game.

  9. Ross says:

    Just an extraneous thought.
    In the light of Omni Hospital’s recent behaviour, (and let’s all boycott that place, at least!) can those of us who post on this forum be sure that RCTI and other potentially aggrieved targets won’t have us dragged off to court?

  10. BacKStbrZ says:

    heyy… a matter of fact pancasila is no longer in the hearts of our people… they dont even know the philosophy of pancasila…. its only a line read in front of students at monday now…

  11. BacKStbrZ says:

    I’m sorry i gotta post this to a-matter-of-fact, dont know that he wil ever read it…

    Just calling me a dickhead wont prove a thing…..

    So you are a Nobleman? a people’s person? a warrior of pancasila?


    Yes it is… ask 1 million students do they know its philosophy? ask them what “padi kapas” stands for???


    you calling me disloyal? hahahah, the one’s disloyal is who cant see his own country “truth perspective”

    We are not living in a world of dreams!! be moderate… see with the eyes, think for GOD SAKES….

    Btw where’s your post? Thats what anger gives you….. nothing.

  12. Montana says:

    I don’t even watch reality tv anymore, most of it is just banking on people’s misery, i saw one on Discovery channel where they pretended to steal a crippled man’s truck and overhauled it. Of course, they made him happy in the end, but why did they have to put him through a week of misery?

  13. Merah says:

    For what it’s worth, it appears more than a few people have made formal complaints about “Dibaya Lunas” to KPI. RCTI has at least had their wrists slapped, and publically.

    On 10 Juni 2009 KPI posted to their website the following public announcement as regards “Dibayar Lunas” on 10 Juni 2009. (For those who aren’t conversant with Bahasa Indonesia, essentially KPI condemned the show’s content as inhumane- specifically June 6th’s program; apologized to those who had complained (especially to the exploited poor), assured the public they (KPI) were in solidarity with the masyarakat and orang miskin, and also “called upon” RCTI to clean up their act in the future.)

    It doesn’t appear from the following announcement that KPI has moved to sanction RCTI in any legal sense. (I have no idea if they have the authority to do so)

    Rabu, 10 Juni 2009
    “Dibayar Lunas” RCTI Juga Kena Semprit

    Selain menghentikan program Bukan Empat Mata Trans 7, Komisi Penyiaran Indonesia (KPI) Pusat, kemarin, (10/6) juga menghimbau program reality show “Dibayar Lunas” yang ditayangkan pada Sabtu, 6 Juni 2009 pukul 17.30 WIB di RCTI.

    Himbauan diberikan karena program ini dinilai mengeksploitasi orang miskin, tidak mendidik dan tidak manusiawi. Selain itu, KPI Pusat juga banyak menerima aduan dari masyarakat yang mengeluhkan acara ini.

    Ternyata, himbauan ini tidak hanya ditujukan untuk program dibayar lunas, dalam surat tersebut disebutkan, KPI Pusat juga meminta agar RCTI lebih berhati-hati untuk menampilkan tayangan kehidupan rakyat miskin dalam reality show sejenis tayang di stasiunnya.

  14. Brother Mouzone says:


    There’s a synopsis of that episode here, says the woman’s kid was treated for dengue fever.

    I heard that too – turned out after treatment that it wasn’t dengue but it was actually the mumps – I think the hospital involved was (Censored – Brother Mouzone’s Lawyer)

  15. Rob says:

    The debt collectors are outrageous in Indonesia. It is the only place I have lived where the solution is you pay or we destroy your house, your office, we beat you to within an inch of your life, we beat your family members to within an inch of their lives, we will kill your pets. And, there is just no escaping it. It does not matter if the debt is not yours as you are supposed to know where the person with the debt is…

    Banks are notorious for using hired thugs (AKA debt collectors), which is stupid as most people would be willing to pay but just need to work out a structured payment plan in order to do so.

    However, on the reality TV front, others have already made the comment that most applies here; the more sensational or dramatic, the better the ratings.

  16. Ross says:

    Thanks, Merah, good to know that some justice is visible, and yes, Rob, I’ve heard of these thugs. They should be beaten – bring back the birch!

    In fact, after a press report a year or two back, I contacted the head office of the ‘reputable’ bank involved (begins with an H) and asked them to fire the scummy admin creeps who hired the preman. No anwer, so as usual my view is that a Prita-style campaign by bloggers et. might do the trick.

    Unfortunately, as with my proposed boycott of Trans TV’s pro-terrorist freak Dorce, unless lots of people care enough to send an email, nothing will happen.

    I gather Fifi, the murder victim in Tangerang, has elicited zero support from all the goody-two-shoes who (quite rightly) supported Prita.

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