With conservative lawmakers in Indonesia this week making another push to ban alcohol with a controversial bill, some are arguing against the potential harm of such a law, especially in a popular tourist destination like Bali.
According to AA Ngurah Adi Ardhana, who is a member of the Regional Legislative Council (DPRD) in Bali, the studies from which the bill is based on are "too shallow."
"If we are to take a look at the bill it doesn't look at the practices on the field and merely took into account the wishes of a select few, so it is very unfair to members of the public who are traditionally and culturally accepting of alcoholic beverages, which is also something guaranteed by the 1945 Constitution," Ngurah said.
Twenty-one lawmakers from staunchly conservative Islamic parties, the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and National Development Party (PPP), as well as one from Gerindra Party, re-initiated their argument at the House Legislation Body (Baleg) to have the Bill on the Prohibition of Alcoholic Drinks (RUU Larangan Minol) passed into law. The bill has stalled in parliament ever since it was initiated by the same group in 2015.
Ngurah's remark makes note of Indonesia's official recognition of six religions, five of which – including Hinduism, the majority religion in Bali province – do not explicitly forbid alcohol consumption.
Many have voiced concerns over the potential passing of such a bill, which would have a disastrous impact on the whole country in terms of the economy, tourism, and public health. A draft of the bill says those caught consuming alcoholic beverages may be imprisoned between three months and two years.
Nyoman Sugawa Korry, Deputy Chairman of DPRD Bali, said the bill could negatively impact businesses and increase unemployment.
"With Bali as a tourist destination, the need and consumption of alcoholic beverages are not something you can avoid. The bill must not inflict harm on regions that are dependent on tourism," Sugawa said.
It's no secret that tourists visiting Bali love to get their drink on, and it's worth noting that it was only earlier this year that Bali's own traditional liquor called arak was legalized. Bali Governor Wayan Koster envisioned the arak legalization as a first step towards making it a great contributor to the regional economy.
While there's still a long way to go on discussions of the bill, as noted by Baleg Deputy Chairman Willy Aditya, it's in parliament's list of priority bills in 2020 and may make the same list next year.