Issue of the day: Bill terrifies alcohol industry
The Jakarta Post
The Jakarta Post
Aug. 31, p2
Publicly listed PT Multi Bintang Indonesia, the country's largest brewery, has put on hold its US$42 million plant expansion projects in East Java after the ban on alcohol sales slapped on minimarts by the Trade Ministry in April slashed its sales by 40 percent and its profits by 47 percent in the first half.
Yet the worst may be yet to befall the alcohol industry as a draft bill initiated by the House of Representatives will completely ban the production, distribution, sale and consumption of alcohol in the Muslim-majority country.
Under the draft bill, anyone found to be distributing or producing alcoholic drinks containing more than 1 percent alcohol could face between two and 10 years in prison, or a fine of up to Rp 1 billion ($77,000). Those caught consuming alcohol could face jail time of between three months and two years or fines of up to Rp 500 million.
Ban it, please. I hate alcoholic.
'And as our economy has become intensively globalized and our country more popular as a tourist destination, we will inevitably be host to an increasingly large number of foreigners.' Not with this bill you won't. Never worked in any other country and yet Indonesian politicians believe they know better. Get ready for a major reality check.
Like it or not, the hangover from this alcohol thing will affect Indonesians the most.
You cannot ban alcohol but if you still insist on giving the freedom to provincial legislative councils and administrations to decide it, you can ban alcohol in West Java and West Sumatra, but not in Bali and North Sumatra. Come on!
How come President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, who received the draft bill in July, instead of turning it down entirely, decided to continue the legislation process? Can anyone explain? Has he joined the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) United Development Party (PPP), Islam Defenders Front (FPI) and Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI)?
He 'hath a lean and hungry look', indicating that he is under severe pressure from those who have influence over him and who hold all the aces. This being so, it's very probable that he cannot say and do what he himself feels he ought to say and do.
Not so good for employment either. Surely the country has actual, real problems to focus on rather than a perceived and almost imaginary problem in beer consumption. By and large, most Indonesians don't really drink, so what are they trying to achieve?
On the one hand, this government desperately wants more foreign tourists to fill its empty coffers.
Conversely, there's a 90 percent chance that beer and other alcoholic drinks will be banned thanks to the draconian draft prohibition bill that was cooked up by narrow-minded politicians. Imagine being thrown into jail for three months to two years and having to pay fines up to Rp 500 million, for drinking a cold beer in public.
If this bill is passed, foreign beer-loving tourists will flock to other ASEAN countries with commonsensical governments and avoid Indonesia like the plague.
At least former president Yudhoyono seemed to want to avoid conflict. Since he is no longer in office, its back to nationalists and religious fundamentalists running amok. The rupiah has tumbled to the unimaginable level of Rp 14,000 and is still likely to slip further.
'I hope Indonesia makes a complete alcohol ban!' says the tourist boards of Vietnam, Burma, Cambodia, Malaysia and Australia.
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