The alcohol industry has called on the House of Representatives to draft a bill that would become the legal basis to regulate the distribution of alcoholic beverages in society.
If such a bill was passed into law, it would allow regulators to control and monitor the distribution of such beverages, rather than totally banning the commodity, said Indonesian Malt Beverage Producers Association (GIMMI) executive committee member Bambang Britono on Wednesday as quoted by kompas.com.
What Indonesia needed was comprehensive regulations on the chain of production and the marketing of alcoholic beverages instead of total prohibition because there was no reason to completely ban liquor, Bambang added.
"Research findings from the Health Ministry's research and the development agency as well as the WHO have indicated that there is no alcohol emergency issue in Indonesia," Bambang said on Wednesday as quoted on kompas.com, adding that the results had shown low levels of alcoholic consumption in the country.
Indonesia Spirit and Wine Alliance (ISWA) spokesman Ipung Nimpuno made a similar statement, saying that the US National Prohibition Act, commonly known as the Volstead Act, which prohibited the production, importation, distribution and sale of alcohol between 1920 and 1933 was an example of how such a law failed to reduce alcohol consumption.
"What actually happened was a rise in crime and the growth of mafia organisations who smuggled alcoholic drinks," Ipung said.
Ipung said proper control and monitoring would provide greater certainty in regulating the alcoholic drinks sector in Indonesia.
Indonesian Alcoholic Beverage Entrepreneurs Association (APMBI) spokesman Stevanus voiced his concern about the public perception of oplosan (bootleg liquor), which could become an alternative to properly made alcoholic drinks.
"For us, oplosan is not alcohol but poison. Oplosan is not a beverage because the ingredients are not for consumption, unlike an alcoholic drink," he said.
The APMBI has conducted a number of campaigns to raise public awareness of the dangers of bootleg liquor in several areas including Bali and Surabaya. The organisation is aiming to collaborate with the government to educate the public and reach a wider audience.
House of Representatives' inquiry committee (Pansus) member Abdul Fikri, who is a Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) lawmaker, said the committee would take into consideration all the input from the alcohol industry.
He said the alcohol prohibition bill was still very simple and needed further contributions from various parties. "The point is how can we organise, provide security and save the younger generation. That is our objective," he said.