Home Affairs Ministry Questions Alcohol Ban Plan

By webadmin on 04:22 pm Feb 19, 2012
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Dessy Sagita

Calls to ban liquor sales in Indonesia may hurt the nation’s tourism industry, an official at the Home Affairs Ministry said on Saturday, commenting on the draft bill proposed by the Islamic-based United Development Party (PPP).

Ministry spokesman Reydonnyzar Moenoek said there were considerations to be studied before deciding whether to back the call for a complete ban.

“We should look at the problem thoroughly. Among other things, we must consider the impact of a liquor ban on our tourism industry. Besides, Indonesia is not only inhabited by Muslims,” he told the Jakarta Globe.

Reydonnyzar, better known as Donny, cited Bali as region that heavily relied on tourism, particularly foreign tourists. He said any ban would cause more trouble than benefit if it was imposed there. 

He added that the 1997 presidential decree regulating the sale and distribution of liquor was more than adequate, and if it was implemented properly it would prevent uncontrolled liquor sales. “The decree is a very detailed regulation. But we have to admit that law enforcement has not yet fully enforced measures against those who are not supposed to consume alcohol,” he said.

Alcohol is classified into three categories: A (with an alcohol content of 5 percent or less), B (above 5 percent to 20 percent) and C (above 20 percent to 55 percent).

National regulations state that the sale of alcohol classified as B and C should be controlled and limited to places such as hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and duty-free shops. Alcohol classified in the A group, such as beer, can be sold anywhere.

Donny said he could understand the PPP’s demand for a ban. “As an aspiration, of course, it will be seriously considered and we respect that.”

The party announced its desire to propose a new draft bill on the sale of liquor at a recent seminar in Jakarta.

Faith-based groups have previously demanded a complete ban on alcohol sales in Indonesia, saying that alcohol is haram, or forbidden, in Islamic teaching.

A standoff between the ministry and some Islamic groups occurred in mid-January when Minister of Home Affairs Gamawan Fauzi asked regions to revise bylaws that limit or ban the sale of alcohol. The groups, however, alleged Gamawan was siding with alcohol producers.

The PPP joined the protests and pledged to draft a bill banning alcohol in retaliation to the ministry’s requests to review the regional bylaws.