Bali, Sep. 12, 2016
There’s been a flurry of reignited interest in the potty proposal of certain hardline Muslim legislators in Jakarta to place a blanket ban on alcohol throughout their prospective Indonesia Raya. The only thing new about the proposal is that it has just surfaced in a story in the UK Daily Telegraph. The draft laws have been in the legislature for a while. It’s moot whether they will eventually emerge from that palace of frequently nightmarish dreams with their working bits intact, or even attached.
It goes without saying that such a ban applied to Bali, which is largely Hindu and liberal, at least in archipelagic terms, would be disastrous. President Joko Widodo must know that there’s rather more to diversity than just turning up in locally traditional rig for a visiting fireman speech or some event or other. He must know too that turning Bali officially dry would wreck the tourist trade.
To the extent that rationality governs politics – and that quantum is arguable everywhere; it’s not just in Indonesia that the doh factor dumbfounds – it would seem, even in the face of unconstitutional zealotry, that someone sensible should speak up. In this instance, alcohol and sex are certainly congruous. Neither drinking nor naughty nooky will ever be abolished by legislation. Each practice may offend some, be against the religious strictures of others, or may indeed be bloody silly especially if taken to excess. But driving things underground has never done anything but make them worse, and turn whole populations into even more people whom the police can arrest as lawbreakers.
Even in Aceh, whose autonomy has given it Sharia law, people drink. Some of them are said to add the rather nice locally grown pot to their coffee to give it extra pizazz. Here in Bali, locus of a definably non-Arabian religion, strictures that are the equivalents of haram in Islam are differently focused and decidedly more liberal. In other parts of the country there are substantial indigenous Christian communities. The archipelago is a rainbow nation.
The mullahs and other Muslim proselytisers need to understand that. That is, of course, unless their purpose is to wreck the joint.