INDONESIAN PARLIAMENT TO DELIBERATE ALCOHOL PROHIBITION BILL CARRYING HEFTY PENALTIES
By Siulan Law Mathews DipWSET
Credit: Denny Aulia/Unsplash
The Indonesian House of Representatives has included the controversial Alcohol Prohibition Bill among a list of prioritised legislative initiatives for next year, public debates on the issue look set to get more intense in the months to come.
Based on the draft released by the House, the bill seeks to criminalise producers, distributors, sellers, buyers and consumers of alcoholic beverages.
People caught consuming alcohol will be subject to a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a fine of Rp50million (USD3,500), more than 4 times Indonesian average monthly salary.
Consumption of alcohol in ritual and religious ceremonies, in certain tourist areas and some entertainment venues will be exempt from punishments.
The Alcohol Prohibition Bill was first introduced in 2015 but was put on hold because of wide criticism. Some Indonesian politicians recently renewed calls for prohibition amid a rise in fatalities due to the consumption of illegal moonshine liquor.
Eighteen lawmakers from three parties - Prosperous Justice Party, Islam-based United Development Party and the nationalist Gerindra Party - pushed for the Alcohol Prohibition Bill to be tabled to the House again.
According to data compiled by Centre for Indonesian Policy Research, 546 people died after consuming bootleg liquor between 2014 to 2018.
In more recent cases this year, three people died in Malang, East Java, in May, and two died in Depok, West Java, in October.
Critics of the draft bill said the government should target the illicit moonshine trade instead of banning alcohol consumption altogether.
They also said alcohol poisoning victims turned to illegal liquor because legal products are beyond their affordability and are rarely available in rural areas in particular.
Indonesia imposes high tax on alcoholic drinks, there is a 150% import duty for products with less than 80% alcohol content.
The sale of alcohol is also limited to selected stores and big supermarkets. Convenience shops are not allowed to sell alcohol across the country with the exception of Bali province.
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