Indonesia considers total alcohol ban

JAKARTA – Indonesian lawmakers are pushing for a ban on all alcoholic beverages throughout the archipelago that would see drinkers punished with up to two years in jail.

The Islamic-based United Development Party, a member of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's governing coalition, has drafted and submitted its Bill for a Ban on Alcoholic Drinks to parliament, which has included it on the republic’s national legislation programme for 2013.

"It is the mandate of our constitution, it's about character building," United Development Party MP Ahmad Kurdi Moekri, told Australia’s Fairfax Media.

Mr Ahmad said alcoholic drinks "have a greater negative impact on the nation than positive, and anything negative to the nation is the nation's enemy".

He denied that the legislation was founded in religious extremism.

"We should not take the stance … that, since the bill was proposed by a party of certain religious background, that it might lead to turning the country into a religious-based state," he said.

"It's such a small-minded approach."

The bill proposes penalties of up to 10 years jail and 10 billion rupiah (31.7 million baht) in fines for those who produce alcoholic drinks; 16.7 million baht and five years in prison for those who distribute them, and two years' imprisonment and a 667,000 baht penalty for drinkers.

Indonesia is a Muslim majority country, although alcohol is freely available in nightclubs, bars and convenience stores.

The Age

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