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article imageNew York diplomatic parking fine scandal embarrasses Indonesia

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By Katerina Nikolas     Sep 28, 2011 in World
Jakarta - Indonesia has run up parking fines to the tune of $725,000 in New York, causing a national scandal. Whilst many are embarrassed by the way this affects the nation's image, others are quick to blame New York for not providing adequate parking facilities.
There are many perks to a life in the diplomatic service, particularly for those with an evil bent. Diplomatic immunity grants them licence to spy, murder, drive whilst under the influence, and engage in deviant sexual practices. However it does not afford them the right to leave their parking tickets unpaid in New York, though evidence would point otherwise.
The annual naming and shaming of foreign diplomats who are tardy in paying their New York parking fines revealed that this year’s worst culprit is Egypt, with a massive $1.9 million of unpaid tickets. Nigeria has made it into second place with a cool $1 million, whilst Indonesia trials with the bronze, owing a paltry $725,000. According to Beatmag, diplomatic missions in New York owe a staggering total of $16.7 million which authorities have tried in vain to collect.
The Jakarta Globe reveals that the Indonesian government is suffering embarrassment by the amount of money their diplomatic staff has run up in parking fines. Anis Matta of the Prosperous Justice Party said that the unpaid fines were an “embarrassment.” Pramono Anung of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle agreed, saying the tickets must be paid to “salvage” Indonesia’s image.
However some members of the government turned the issue on its head and blamed New York for the problem. Deputy foreign minister Triyono Wibowo, complained that only one parking space was issued to 35 embassy staff. According to the Jakarta Post he is of the opinion that it is up to New York to provide adequate parking facilities for all Indonesian diplomats. Priyo Budi Santoso of the Golkar Party remarked “It is customary that diplomats from closely related countries get special treatment.”There should certainly be no special treatment in the eyes of US Congressman Michael Grimm, who reportedly said “There’s no such thing as ‘diplomatic immunity’ from paying parking tickets. If you get a ticket in NYC, you have to pay it. No exceptions. New York City’s budget is tight enough as it is, and foreign diplomats do not deserve a free pass at the expense of New York City taxpayers” Beatmag. Grimm, together with other lawmakers, is proposing legislation for stiffer penalties for diplomats and their staff. The bill proposes revoking diplomatic license plates for offenders, and reducing foreign aid by the amount outstanding. Indonesia may find it easier and less expensive to purchase bicycles for its diplomatic staff or encourage more walking.
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