Indonesian lawmakers propose bill to ban alcohol consumption-report

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 13, 2015 10:30 PM

By Eveline Danubrata and Michael Taylor

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Two Islamic parties have proposed legislation that would ban all consumption of alcoholic drinks and bring jail terms of up to two years for offenders in Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population, the Jakarta Post said on Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear how much support there would be for the bill put to parliament, although previous moves to crack down on alcohol consumption have been seen as posturing to appeal to voters before the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

"Under the bill, consuming alcoholic beverages could land a person in jail as it will be treated similarly to drug trafficking," the daily quoted Muhammad Arwani Thomafi, a member of one of the two parties, as saying.

The bill seeks to ban the sale, production, distribution and consumption of all beverages containing more than one percent of alcohol, according to the national newspaper.

The parties behind the bill and government officials were not immediately available to comment on the report.

Indonesia, which has a population of around 250 million, has seen fast-growing sales of alcoholic drinks such as the Bintang beer brand brewed by PT Multi Bintang Indonesia Tbk, which is majority owned by Heineken.

Other alcoholic drinks makers with a footprint in Indonesia include Diageo and Carlsberg.

Indonesia is the tenth-largest beer consumer in Asia and has the most Guinness stout drinkers in the region. Beer sales have climbed 54 percent over the past decade.

"Of course I don't agree with it, why would you prohibit someone's hobby to drink? So after banning drinks, what else would they ban? Smoking?" said Diponagara, a 28-year-old worker at a non-government organisation in Jakarta.

However, a survey by market researcher Nielsen found that, in 2014, only 2.2 percent of Indonesians over the age of 20 had consumed alcohol in the previous 12 months.

Alcohol consumption is frowned upon by many Muslims in Indonesia and, during Ramadan in particular, bars are sometimes attacked by vigilante groups.

A regulation banning the sale of alcoholic drinks at mini-markets will come into force on Thursday, although they will still be sold at supermarkets, hotels, bars and restaurants.

The Jakarta Post said the proposed legislation banning all consumption would exempt some locations to protect tourism, including five-star hotels and the resort island of Bali.

(Additional reporting by Gayatri Suroyo and Charlotte Greenfield in Jakarta; Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by Paul Tait)