A new regulation which bans beers and pre-mixed drinks from being sold in the country’s ubiquitous minimarts will be enforced from mid-April. The government will ban the sale of beverages with an alcohol content up to 5 percent level, including beers and pre-mixed drinks, in mini-markets, such as Indomaret, Alfamart, Circle K and 7-11.
The mini-marts have been given a grace period of three months from when the regulation was signed, effectively outlawing the sales from April 16.
According to data from the ministry for trade, Indonesia has about 23,000 mini-markets, some of which are close to schools and residential ares for customer convenience. The government has stated that the sale of liquor close to schools is a danger to the morals of school-children and had to be banned.
What the government didn’t say, of course, is that only one of Indonesia’s 5 official religions bans alcohol, and that is Islam, the most common religion. Freedom of religion is supposedly enforced by the Indonesian Constitution but moves such as these are part of a wave of Islamist-inspired by-laws which force Muslim morality on all ethnic and religious groups. This is a devious and sly attempt to enforce the Islamization of public life and spaces, without admitting what is really going on. Child protection is used as an excuse to force Islamic culture on all Indonesians, irrespective of their beliefs. Understandably, criticism from Hindu Bali has been particularly loud.
Furthermore, Indonesia has already been experiencing a string of mass-poisonings from young people consuming methanol-based home-made alcohol. Just a couple of months ago 25 youths died in a single night from consuming miras oplosan, a type of toxic illegal booze. If young people cannot get access to beer from mini-marts on their night out, even more will turn to miras oplosan, which is made from medical-grade methanol. Far from being moral crusaders, this by-law will cost many young people their lives.