The Jakarta Post
In a bid to increase restrictions on the distribution of alcoholic beverages, the Surabaya municipal administration is set to impose a ban that will prohibit the sale of beverages containing over 0.5 percent alcohol at supermarkets and minimarts.
The chairman of the municipal legislative council's special committee for the bylaw on alcoholic beverages, Blegur Prijanggono, said that the bylaw had been endorsed and would be implemented by the end of March.
'We will give supermarkets and minimarkets three months to remove all products containing more than 0.5 percent alcohol from their shelves,' Blegur told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
'The bylaw is necessary considering that numerous people have died after drinking oplosan [bootleg liquor],' Blegur said.
In January, 14 people died and 11 others were taken to the hospital due to alcohol poisoning after consuming oplosan in Surabaya. In addition, a study conducted by the National Movement Against Alcoholic Beverages found an average of 18,000 deaths annually caused by oplosan consumption.
Under the bylaw, according to Blegur, only a handful of star-rated hotels, night entertainment spots and bars would be permitted to sell alcohol in Surabaya.
As such, he said, foreign tourists visiting Surabaya could feel at ease knowing that the alcoholic beverages they were consuming were safe.
'This way we won't see cases of foreign tourists dying here due to consuming oplosan like in Lombok,' he said.
He was referring to foreign tourist Liam Davies who died at Sir Charles Gardner Hospital in Perth, Australia, after drinking arak oplosan while celebrating New Year's Eve in Lombok last year.
Earlier that year, an Australian teenager suffered temporary blindness after drinking a cocktail mixed with methanol at a party in Bali. In June 2012, Swedish backpacker Johan Lundin died after a similar incident in Lombok, which followed the death of Australian rugby player Michael Denton because of methanol poisoning in Bali.
Blegur said that the bylaw on alcoholic beverages was in line with Presidential Regulation (Perpres) No. 74/2013 on the control of alcoholic beverages in Indonesia.
Separately, Alfamart minimart management company PT Sumber Alfaria Trijaya spokesperson Mochammad Faruq said that all Alfamarts across Indonesia only sold drinks that contained less than 5 percent alcohol.
'We do not sell alcoholic drinks near schools or places of worship,' he said.
Responding to the planned implementation of the Surabaya bylaw on alcoholic beverages, Faruq said that his side respected the prevailing laws.
'We ask the administration to guarantee that the new regulation provides legal and business protection,' he said.
Separately, Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) secretary Mohammad Yunus said that the government was not firm in dealing with problems caused by alcohol consumption, and referred to the fact that supermarkets were still allowed to sell drinks containing 0.5 percent alcohol.
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