Proposed alcohol ban covering Bali could land Aussies in prison

Indonesia’s House of Representatives will resume debate on a controversial bill that would see consumption and distribution of alcohol banned across the country, including in the tourist mecca Bali.

Politicians linked to the Islam-based United Development Party have filed a request with parliament to resume deliberation on the Prohibition of Alcoholic Drinks Bill which was first introduced in 2015 but has stalled.

One of the Bill’s proponents, Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, wants alcohol banned because it harms public health, according to the Jakarta Post.

“This bill aims to keep the public from harm, create order, protect the public from alcoholics and create awareness about the dangers of alcohol consumption,” she said last week.

But others within the country’s parliament say the bill will crush an entire industry and is far too broad in its approach.

Very cheap drinks have been part of the attraction for school-leavers to Kuta. Picture: Nathan EdwardsSource:News Corp Australia

“This bill prohibits the production, distribution, storage, and consumption of alcohol. It will kill a lot of businesses and lead to thousands of people without jobs,” said Christina Aryani of the Golkar party.

“It’s not in line with the government’s goal to create as many jobs as possible.”

AA Ngurah Adi Ardhana, chairman of Bali’s regional Legislative Council, came out strongly against the Bill.

“It is too superficial; Bali will definitely reject it,” he said.

“We are a unitary state built on diversity, and the potential economic impact involved is unacceptable.”

Under the proposed new laws, alcohol would be banned across the country. It would mean distributing alcohol is punishable with 10 years in prison and consuming alcohol is punishable with three years in prison, according to the Post.

Bali would be further decimated by the ban on alcohol. In a pre-COVID world, it was among the most popular destinations for Australian school-leavers who flocked to the island to celebrate and let their hair down.

Australians account for more than a quarter of Bali’s one million annual visitors.

The Herald Sun reports that 21 politicians from the conservative Islamic parties quoted verses from the Koran that argue Muslims must be prohibited from imbibing alcohol because it makes disciples stray from Allah.

Twice Bar in Kuta before COVID-19. Picture: Nathan EdwardsSource:News Corp Australia

West Australian man Jack Ahearn lives in Bali and has been documenting the bleak downfall of the once-thriving tourist haven.

He wrote on Facebook in late October that Kuta was a ghost town and that “videos and pictures I post don’t do justice to the feeling this place gives off now”.

“I drive through Kuta most days to go surf,” he wrote.

“Every week there are more for sale signs, for rent signs, empty businesses and buildings – it’s nuts. The videos and pictures I post don’t do justice to the feeling this place gives off now. The only time I’ve seen it ‘busy’ since February is when there is a food hand out and family’s are lined up by the 100s.

“If you have the means, reach out to your holiday driver you use or any Balinese you know and love. I’m sure they could use a $1 or $2. It’s a long long long way away for places like Kuta to recover.”

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