Balinese Oppose Efforts to Ban Alcohol in Indonesia

Balinese society are voicing their opposition to a draft law being considered in Jakarta to outlaw alcoholic beverages.

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A village leader from Kuta, Wayan Suarsa, said on December 7, 2015, that if national legislators try to push a national prohibition on alcohol he is concerned that public unrest in Bali would be the result.

Suarsa said: “I appreciate the House of Representatives’ (DPR) desire to control those negative aspects of public behavior linked to alcohol consumption, but at the same time it must be understood the diversity of beliefs that exist nationally.” The Bendesa Adat suggested that lawmakers must focus their efforts on the percentage of alcoholic content permissible.

“If alcohol is completely banned, this will have an extraordinary effect on Bali as a tourism destination,” he warned. Pointing to Bali as a positive example, Suarsa said it is now possible to travel the entire length of Kuta beach without encountering drunken behavior due to the control introduced by local law enforcement and community watch participants.

“The main point is not to only see the negative aspects, but to acknowledge that alcohol can also ignite artistic inspiration,” said Suarsa.

Separately, the chairman of the Association of Alcoholic Beverage Distributors (ADMA), Frendy Karmana, said he hoped the legislators considering the proposed legislation will send a team to Bali to consider local cultural and community aspects of the proposed ban. “Don’t rush to create a law that will outlaw (alcoholic drink) everywhere. There are civil rights and the diversity of the natural culture that must be considered in any discussion of a new law that will make the law clear and certain for all concerned,” he said.

Meanwhile the leader of a working group from the DPR to examine the impact of any prohibition on alcoholic beverage, I Gusti Agung Rai Wirajaya, said that the discussion and consideration of any change in the law is still ongoing with a decision on the new law scheduled for June 2016.

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