Last Orders! Indonesia's New Bill To Ban Alcohol Consumption

Indonesia’s House of Representatives have proposed a bill that would ban the consumption of all alcoholic beverages. Being caught drinking a single Bintang could land you in prison for 3 months - 2 years... Talk about a night you don’t remember, that’s one you’ll never forget!

If the bill on the prohibition of alcoholic beverages passes, there would be a ban on the sale, production, distribution and consumption of all beverages containing more than 1 percent alcohol. 

Casual drinkers and Partygoers (and we know there’s a few of you) across Indonesia will be affected. But the question is, how exactly?

An opinion piece submitted by Jimmy Thoriq

“Under the bill, consuming alcoholic beverages could land a person in jail as it will be treated similarly to drug trafficking,” says Baleg member Muhammad Arwani Thomafi of the National Development Party 

This shows how completely out of touch policy makers, like Arwani, are to the average drinker. To group all people who drink into the same group as illicit drug users is to outcast a large and innocent portion of the population overnight. 

Despite the fact that it has been initiated by the PPP and fellow Muslim-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), Arwani insisted the bill was not merely about complying with religious norms. 

“The health issue is equally important. The bill will enable the state to guarantee the health and safety of its citizens because the bill will not only target producers and distributors but also consumers,” he said. 

As we looked at in our article about drug use, Indonesian authorities are unable (and unwilling) to deal with the roots of addiction - the real “health issue” of substance abuse. Cutting off the source will not cure people’s health. The only thing it will guarantee is that people will go underground to buy alcohol, thus doing it illegally. 

The Indonesian Food and Beverage Association (Gapmmi) is already aware of the deliberation and has voiced concern as it says the impact would be enormous in terms of health issues.

“There will be a proliferation of bootleg liquor production. This is more alarming as there won’t be any health and safety standards put in place. How can the government control that?” Gapmmi deputy chairman Sribugo Suratmo said.

According to the bill, a person under the influence of alcohol will face one to five years in jail for disturbing public order or for threatening the safety of others. 

So why do it now? As an explanation, the bill argues that 58 percent of criminal activities are due to the influence of alcohol. Of course, no scientific studies were provided to back up the claim. 

The bill, however, includes a clause enabling exemptions for certain provinces and locations for tourism purposes. 

“Five-star hotels, Bali and North Sulawesi might be examples of places to be exempted,” said Arwani. 

So the only people affected will be the ordinary Indonesian, while tourists and the rich can still have access drinking establishments... does that sound fair? 

Surely the Trade Ministry’s regulation to prohibit minimarts selling alcohol, that takes affect today, April 16, is enough intrusion into the decisions that Indonesians make on what they consume? 

In any case, Indonesia has a long and proud history of producing quality alcohol - despite being the world's largest Muslim country - and we boast a wonderful selection;

Bintang is known the world over;

 traditional home brew liqour like Arak puts hairs on your chest;

while Angur Merah might well be the most unique red wine on the planet.

Perhaps it’s not the most elegant way to have fun with friends, but the reality of drinking alcohol is not as bad as the likes of Arwani would like you to think.

Instead, the wide acceptance of alcohol consumption in Indonesia is a testament to the diversity in thoughts, habits and actions the country tolerates. That is something Indonesia should be really proud of, and we wouldn’t like to change a thing.


What do you think of the proposal to end alcohol in Indonesia? 

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