Posted on 24 April 2012.
By: Kenneth Yeung
The Indonesian government claims that its high taxes on alcoholic beverages discourage heavy drinking but the reality is that many people are turning to illicitly produced liquor, sometimes with deadly consequences.
Every year, dozens of people across the archipelago are killed by consuming drinks adulterated with toxic substances, especially methyl alcohol, which is normally used as an industrial solvent and antifreeze, and sometimes as a racing car fuel. In the first 15 weeks of this year, the Indonesian media has reported more than 50 deaths from tainted alcohol.
Drinking as little as 5ml of methanol can destroy the optic nerve, hence the term ‘blind drunk’, while 30ml can be lethal, although some people have survived ingestion of 100ml.
Methanol occurs naturally in humans, animals and plants, so the body can cope with miniscule quantities. The liver converts methanol into formaldehyde, which is then oxidised into formic acid and either eliminated in urine or broken down to carbon dioxide. But if an excessive amount is consumed, the resulting formaldehyde build-up will be toxic. It can take up to 30 hours after drinking methanol-tainted alcohol to experience the full symptoms of poisoning. If ethyl alcohol (beverage alcohol) is present in the mix, it slows the entrance of methanol into the metabolism. After the initial period of inebriation, symptoms include blurred and painful vision, headache, nausea, dizziness, muscular pain, respiratory difficulties and convulsions. Within a few more hours, the results can be coma, organ failure, blindness, brain damage or death.
These dangers are well known, but many of Indonesia’s relatively low number of alcohol drinkers and some impecunious expats cannot afford heavily taxed liquor. Instead, they opt for the traditional brews that various regions have been making for centuries, or they may unwittingly buy a toxically tainted cocktail or counterfeit spirit.
Local concoctions come under a variety of names, a few of which are interchangeable. The best known drinks are: cap tikus (literally ‘rat brand’, a distilled fermented sago wine – a North Sulawesi specialty) brem (fermented glutinous rice wine), tuak (usually palm wine, but also refers to a fermented rice and sugar drink), arak (distilled fermented red rice, or distilled palm sap), ciu (distilled fermented sugarcane molasses – a Javanese specialty), lapen (a contraction of ‘langsung pening’ or ‘instantly dizzy’, this brew from Yogyakarta is a palm-sugar wine, and also refers to high-strength alcohol mixed with water and syrup) and sopi (distilled Koli palm-sugar wine – a Maluku specialty).
These cheap drinks are for sale at roadside stalls, mostly unregulated and unmonitored by the Health Ministry’s Drug and Food Control Agency. They are usually safe to drink in moderation, with alcoholic content ranging from 5% to 70%, and at worst will cause only a hangover. Problems start when unscrupulous distillers, resellers or imbeciles decide to increase alcoholic content by adding either ‘rubbing alcohol’ or methanol. Rubbing alcohol, which contains approximately 70% pure, concentrated ethanol, is primarily used as a disinfectant and surface cleaner, and can be bought cheaply at any pharmacy. Methanol can be bought from chemical suppliers for Rp.15,000 per litre. Bleach can be used to remove dye from methylated spirits. Some stallholders market their moonshine as jamu (traditional herbal remedies) in order to avoid upsetting religious groups or local authorities opposed to alcohol.
Health and trade authorities in Bali have regulated the traditional liquor industry in order to collect taxes, but there remains the risk of getting a drink from a tainted batch. In April, a Japanese man living in Jimbaran died after drinking methanol-laced arak. One of the worst cases occurred in June 2009, when 25 people, including foreign tourists, died after drinking toxic arak in Bali and Lombok. In September 2010, three Russian technicians working on Indonesia’s Sukhoi fighter jets in South Sulawesi died after drinking methanol-adulterated drinks. In June 2011, four Russian sailors died after consuming alcohol bought in South Kalimantan. Some countries have travel advisories warning of the potential dangers of Indonesia’s local spirits and suggest that tourists stick to bottled beer.
While the deaths of foreigners usually make the news, the vast majority of fatalities are young Indonesian men, often keen to prove their masculinity by downing dangerously strong drink at parties where hosts cannot afford expensive spirits. Victims tend to be from a low socio-economic background, generally pooling money to buy ingredients for a lethal cocktail to alleviate despondency. Yet alcoholism is not a huge problem in Indonesia, the chief exception being Papua province, where unfortunately there is a dearth of data on alcohol abuse. According to World Health Organization data, only 0.6% of Indonesian adults are high risk drinkers, which is defined as consumption of five or more standard drinks for males and three or more standard drinks for females on a typical drinking day. This data might not account for people drinking methylated spirits mixed with condensed milk. The government doesn’t provide statistics on alcohol consumption in rural communities, where some people engage in binge drinking at festivals and wedding parties.
Police and Customs officers occasionally raid producers and vendors of illicit spirits, especially ahead of Ramadhan, seizing thousands of bottles, which are sometimes steamrolled for the TV cameras. Some school students caught with alcohol earlier this year claimed to have bought it from police.
Aside from tainted local drinks, another problem is the counterfeiting of imported brands of spirits, as well as local brands such as Mansion House. Jakarta Police last year raided six illegal liquor factories that were producing thousands of bottles of spirits being sold as the real thing. The bogus brands included Chivas Regal, Johnnie Walker Gold Label, Martell VSOP, Hennessy VSOP, St-Rémy Authentic, Jim Beam, Jack Daniel’s, Pepe Lopez Tequila, Smirnoff No.21, Absolut Vodka, Bols Amsterdam 1575 and Gordon’s London Dry Gin. The operators mixed 90% strength industrial alcohol with bottled water and a variety of ingredients, including syrup, energy drinks, colouring agents and alcohol flavouring essences. The counterfeit liquor cost about Rp.40,000 per bottle to produce and was then sold to small cafes, bars and stores for Rp.70,000 to Rp.200,000 per bottle, whereas the genuine stuff would retail for about Rp.500,000 or more. Getting hold of the right empty bottles accounted for at least half of the production costs. These were bought from staff of nightclubs and restaurants for Rp.20,000 to Rp.30,000 each. The message for bar owners is simple: supervise the smashing of your empty spirits bottles lest they end up being refilled with counterfeit liquor. In China, many distributors and manufacturers of foreign liquor require the return of their bottles.
Some fakes can be spotted by printing errors on labels, plastic seals over bottle tops, blemished or chipped bottles, cloudy content, and most revealingly, by taste. One Central Jakarta cafe used to host a regular quiz night, with the winning team receiving a bottle of ‘imported’ spirits, but the usual victors complained it was definitely fake and made them ill. Police encourage the public to report any vendors selling extremely cheap spirits because it could contain lethal ingredients; however, it could simply be genuine stuff smuggled in with the complicity of crooked officials.
Workers in Jakarta’s counterfeit liquor factories are often part of syndicates but police seem to have trouble arresting ringleaders. Officers are more adept at nabbing small-time liquor vendors lacking a permit. In January a 72-year-old man living in a shack by the railway in Tanah Abang was arrested for selling vodka and wine. By comparison, when police in Palembang, South Sumatra, in April found a warehouse stocked with 3,000 bottles of illicitly produced liquor, the owner of the operation was let off with merely a warning.
There’s no easy solution to Indonesia’s problem of methanol poisoning. Alcohol taxes could be lowered and traditional liquor regulations tightened, but some people will likely continue to tempt fate with potentially lethal booze. Banning alcohol would only perpetuate the black market’s dominance and lead to more methanol use.
Kenneth Yeung enjoys an occasional drink.
Cebuano / Tagalog Tutor Wanted in Yogya. Hi. Kumusta ka? My name is Don. I’m seeking a tutor to help me with Visayan- Cebuano and/or Tagalog, in the Yogyakarta area. Sa una, nituon ko og binisaya og gamai sa Sugbo. I am currently working as an English teacher here. Selamat po. Contact me Don H [...]
Experience staying at a beautiful original antique Javanese Joglo villa in the foothills of Mount Merapi. Joglo Ago is a three double bedroom villa with gardens perfect for a weekend retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. In close proximity to Mount Merapi and Borobudur Temple. Visit www.jogloago.com for more information, or call [...]
UKAWATI UBUD. Unique Resto site overlooking a river from a 200msq Lantai. In the centre is 10 x10 m ancient 3 tier Joglo with huge teak pillars waiting for full development by ambitious entrepreneur, with IMB and loads of land to build villas, total 21,7 are prime position. Call Wally +6281999571288. e)firstname.lastname@example.org or Jeff +6282237099969. [...]
Offering these two fine pieces of exercise equipment, Golds Gym weight station and an elliptical trainer for sale. Rp 1.5 juta for the Golds Gym Set and Rp 500,000 for the elliptical trainer. Photos available at the Flickr link below. I live in Pondok Indah. Call me at 081881380078 if interested
RENTAL APARTMENT KUNINGAN CITY – KINTAMANI SUIT EMBASSY OR TOP MANAGEMENT Brand New, Fully Furnished, Top Floor (39), 300 M2 +/-, Huge Living Room, 3 Bedrooms, Fully Equipped Kitchen, Studio, Maid’s Room, Security, Parking. US$4,500 per month nego, Min 12 months. Call owner 0818 699424 NO AGENTS.
Hampton’s Park Apartment, For rent by owner 16th FLOOR, 3 – BEDROOM, FULLY FURNISHED APARTMENT. 104 sq.m. Golf view. Third bedroom suitable for office. Two bathrooms, one ‘en-suite’ with bathtub. Large fitted cupboards in main bedroom. Washer in Maid’s area with bathroom. Fully equipped kitchen, fridge, gas cooker with oven, microwave, small appliances and fitted [...]
For RENT: Exclusive and spacious unit in Hamptons Park Apartments, Pondok Indah. 164m2, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, maid’s bedroom and bathroom. Large living and dining room. Fully furnished, secure access card, low floor, perfect for family. Strategic location. Call/sms Melly 08121110668.
Learn Italian the proper way from an Italian from Firenze. My teaching method is perfect for who approaches the study of Italian for the first time. I also provide lessons of advanced italian for who has already some knowledge of the language and italian for business and for travelers. Learn how to interact with native [...]
Looking for an experienced Bahasa Indonesian teacher. I am looking for an experienced Bahasa Indonesia teacher that can come to my home in Setiabudi for some private classes 2-4 hours week. Immediate start required. Please contact Renee on email@example.com or SMS/whatsapp on 0811 125 2934.
I am Farzanah Aumeer. I have a BSc(hons) in Marine Science and Technology and an MSc in Environmental Management Technology. I am a native English and French speaker. I also speak other languages like Japanese, Hindi and Urdu. I am IT literate. I can teach any subjects that I studied and also do consultancy jobs. [...]
Hi, I’m Ricky. I am offering Indonesian language lesson. I use well structured books, lesson plans & modules with 2 years active teaching experience. The cost is Rp 200.000 per meeting for 90 minutes. Yes, it is negotiable depends on the numbers of students and meetings within a week. We can schedule the meeting based [...]
Expat Superiors, do you work with staff that need to improve their English? A trustworthy female who grew up in the U.S. and has been teaching in International companies for years can provide excellent various programs. Informal environment is also welcome. Have been teaching in a Multinational company. Call 0815 8410 9845.
Learn French the easy way – with a native speaker. Private lessons, tutorial & remedial, For people of all ages. Modem teaching method from an experienced, dedicated instructor. Available at : JI. RS. Fatmawati No. 52 Wisma Subud No. 22B Cilandak Barat Jakarta Selatan 12430. Please contact: 021-7690216
A very trustworthy, hardworking, responsible, polite and mature driver with great skills in English is looking for work around the Jakarta area. Have worked with expats for 16 years. Have experience with Oil and Multinational Companies. Able to adapt to various situations. A person that really loves to work. Contact 0857 8116 9110.
Beautiful Beachfront Land for Sale in Lux (Gangga) North West Lombok. 4822 sq. metres. Approx 48 Are. Certificate Hak Milik. The land is in corner of bay. Is presently being used as a coconut plantation. Price is 75,000,000 RP (neg) for 1 Are. Contact Adrian on 0816 187 6460.
A Nice Unit Apartment available for rent in Beverly Tower 9th Floor, TB. Simatupang, Jakarta Selatan. 85 sqm, 2 Bedrooms, 2 Bathrooms, large Living room connected to Balcony, Dining room and Pantry. Service area include 1 Maid room, 1 Bathroom. Fully furnished condition. The Beverly Tower is located next door to the Jakarta International School, [...]
A Nice Tropical House available for Rent at Jl. Laksana III, Blok S, Kebayoran Baru. Land area 320 sqm, 2 storey Building ± 350 sqm with marble tiles. Downstairs: Master Bedroom with attached bathroom, Guest room, Powder room, large Living room, Dining room, Pantry and wet Kitchen, Garage for 2 cars. Terrace and small garden [...]
A nice house available for Rent at Jl. Puri Mutiara VII, Kemang Selatan. Land area 600 sqm, building size 350 sqm. Downstairs: Master Bedroom complete with a large changing room and Bathroom, 1 family Bedroom/Study room, large Living room, Dining room with large Pantry. Service area includes Wet Kitchen, 2 Maid rooms, Laundry room, Garage [...]
Rental Apartment Kuningan City – Kintamani Suit Embassy or Top Management. Brand New, Fully Furnished, Top Floor (39), 300 M2 +/-, Huge Living Room, 3 Bedrooms, Fully Equipped Kitchen, Studio, Maid’s Room, Security Parking. US$4,500 per month nego, min.12 Months. Call owner 0818 699424. No Agents.
Senopati Townhouse B. Walking distance to Senopati’s restaurants. Minutes away from SCBD, Senayan, Kuningan & Kemang. High quality finishes & environmentally sustainable systems. Land: 84.8 m² Townhouse: 169.5 m². 3 levels, 4 bedrooms, 1 living, 1 dining, 1 kitchen, 1 laundry, 4 bathrooms, 1 maid room, balcony, outdoor area, carport, vertical gardens. Contact 08818179121 firstname.lastname@example.org
Senopati Townhouse A. Walking distance to Senopati’s restaurants. Minutes away from SCBD, Senayan, Kuningan & Kemang. High quality finishes & environmentally sustainable systems. Land: 126.5m² Townhouse: 190²m. 3 levels, 3 bedrooms, 2 living, 1 dining, 1 study, 1 kitchen, 1 laundry, 4 bathrooms, 1 maid room, balcony, outdoor area, 2+carport, vertical gardens. Contact 08818179121 email@example.com.
16th FLOOR, 3-BED FULLY FURNISHED APARTMENT. 104 sq.m. Golf view. Third bedroom suitable for office. Two bathrooms, one en-suite with bathtub. Large fitted cupboards in main bedroom. Washer in Maid’s area with bathroom. Fully equipped kitchen, fridge, gas cooker with oven, microwave, small appliances and fitted cupboards. Crockery, cutlery and utensils. Secure basement parking. Facilities [...]
For Rent: Sudirman Tower Condominium (Aryaduta Suites Semanggi) 100sqm, 2+1 bedroom, 2+1 bathroom, fully furnished, located in Sudirman Area, surrounded by Kembang Goela restaurant, MRCCC hospital, Plaza Semanggi, SCBD, etc. Price is USD18,000/year. Further information contact Yun (owner) in 0818122933/2756D41F, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Painting, ceramic chinese jars, and a home for sale. Paintings by Hendra Gunawan. 2m-tall pair of china jars, following the minimalist house 2 floor, classic. House in east Bekasi, good investment, near highway. Below the market price, fast contact: 082111071447.
Indonesian Luwak Coffee, Perfect for Drink & Gift! We provide 100% Authentic Luwak (Civet) Coffee Original from Sumatra Non-Blending; Roasted Bean or Powder. $15 for 5 sachets of 10gr $24 for 100 grams $70 for 300 grams Shipment available. We provide also Bird Nest for health start from $120. Contact me: Laurencia 081 7699 7899.
A very trustworthy, hardworking, responsible, polite and mature driver with great skills in English is looking for work around the Jakarta area. Worked with expats for 16 years. Experience with Oil and Multinational Companies. Able to adapt to various situations. A person that really loves to work. Contact 0857 8116 9110.
Expat Superiors, do you work with staff that need to improve their English? A trustworthy female who grew up in the U.S. and has been teaching in International companies for years can provide excellent various programs. Informal environment is also welcome. Have been teaching in a multinational company. Call 081584109845.
Bahasa Indonesia for Foreigners: home-tuition in Lippo Cikarang. Experienced tutor, communicative activity using handouts and flash cards combined with grammar and practice using text books. Well-structured syllabus that can be tailored based on the learner’s needs. Tuition fee Rp.250,000 per hour for one learner. Contact me for available days and times on 085280561247.
Hi I am TheDy. I am an Indonesian teacher at one of the International schools in South Jakarta. If you need to learn Indonesian just contact me at 081808383342 or email me at email@example.com. I will give you Indonesian lessons based on your needs. Thank you and see you.
Private Classical Piano Lesson for Children and Adults. Teacher willing to come to your place for the lesson (for South Jakarta area). Well experienced in teaching Piano for children, adults and music theory as well, also provides the ABRSM Examination which is Internationally certified. If you are interested, please contact 081317810789.
Hello everyone! If you’re looking for a private Bahasa Indonesia tutor in Jakarta/Bekasi, please feel free to contact me! I am a third year English literature student who currently teaches Indonesian for expats. I could help you in learning and improving Indonesian. I will teach you Indonesian based on your needs. The material for the [...]
We are currently looking for a HSE Officer for a project in Batam, Indonesia. Candidate must have at least 5 years in experience in Oil and Gas Industry and be WSHO-registered. Interested candidates, kindly send your updated CV with salary details, expectation and notice/availability to firstname.lastname@example.org
Young growing Café/Restaurant/Villas in Ubud, already ranked by Tripadvisor in the top 10% of 417 in Ubud, seeks an experienced Chef/Cook to control our kitchen. Our menu is both Indonesian and Western Cuisine. We can offer a very good contract for the right person. Must be an Indonesian Citizen. To arrange an interview, please call [...]
General Manager Role for Expatriates – attractive package Our client, multinational steel pipes and tubes trading company, is currently seeking General Manager to be placed in Indonesia Office. The company has more than 50 branches around the world, with its headquarter in Netherlands. The company will give an attractive package and benefit. Should you be [...]
Sutera Harbour Resort is accepting applications from qualified applicants specialising in hospitality/catering, management, accounting, health, HR, driving, spa management, project development and others. If you possess an excellent qualification and skills in the above, forward your detailed and updated resume to the email address, email@example.com for evaluation. All employment enquiries and advice should be directed [...]
A very trustworthy, hardworking, responsible, polite and mature driver with great skills in English is looking for work around Jakarta area. Has worked with expats for 16 years. Has experience with Oil and Multinational Companies. Able to adapt to various situations. A person that really loves to work. Contact 0857 8116 9110.
Experienced Writer & Marketing Man Kick off 2015 with a sharper message to sell your product/service and shake up your competitors, permanently. Copywriting: Company profiles, Annual reports, Corporate videos, Bio’s, Press releases, etc. Marketing Strategy, Branding, Social media planning & storytelling. Market research. Competitive rates. Excellent references. Tel: 0812 1070 111. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Sale! Beautiful and peaceful house located in Goa Gajah area, Gianyar(2KM from central Ubud). 2.530 m2 land. 4bdrms, 3 bthrms, living room, dining room, kitchen, big aula, 2 storeys art shop, 2 storeys studio, and wide yard. PDAM, electricity 4400W, phone line. Suitable for living & business. Good investment. Price negotiable.Contact: Ms. Arliss 0815-193-68686 [...]
For Rent: Sudirman Tower Condominium (Aryaduta Suites Semanggi) 100sqm, 2+1 bedroom, 2+1 bathroom, fully furnished, located in Sudirman Area, surrounded by Kembang Goela restaurant, MRCCC hospital, Plaza Semanggi, SCBD, etc. Price is USD18,000 / year. Further information contact Yun (owner) in 0818122933/ 2756D41F/ email@example.com.
For RENT: Exclusive Apartment in Hamptons Park Apartments, Pondok Indah. Great location. 100m2. Second floor. Pool view. Two bedrooms. Two bathrooms (one ensuite with bathtub). Office area. Bedroom + bathroom for household staff. Semi-furnished: includes kitchen set, fridge, oven, stove, microwave, dispenser, two built in bed frames, one tv + open cabinet, built in closet, [...]
Newly Renovated House for Rent. Semi Furnished 4 Bedrooms – Swimming Pool – Study / Home Office Room in The Quiet Area Of Kemang, Safe And Secure. Just Behind Australia International School – AIS. Jl. Kemang Timur XVI No. 17. Price is negotiable, start as low as USD 3.450/month for a 3-year contract. Please Contact: [...]
For Rent: A three bedroom house located in prime location in Menteng area. Two storey house with olympic size swimming pool with bigger space for garage. Minimum one year rental. It is close to SCBD area, kuningan, and only minutes to Plaza Indonesia, Grand Indonesia, and Monas. Please call me/ text me @ 0811 929 [...]
For Sale; Belkin USB multi power adapter for iPods. Perfect for travelling. Very Good condition. Rp.100K. Transcend ultra speed 512MB USB2.0 flash drive. Mac & Windows comp. incld. software. Rp.100K. D-Link bluetooth adapter for PC or Mac Rp.100K. USB compact flash card reader. Incld. Software Rp.50K. Contact 081 116 8805 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Intensive Bahasa Indonesia Course For Expatriates in Yogyakarta. Available for beginners until advanced level. For more information, please contact us at 082145017033 / 087838800353 Jl. Wirajaya NO.316B, Gejayan, RT01/RW29, Condong Catur, Depok, Sleman, Yogyakarta.
Indonesian Visa and Company Formation Services (South Jakarta) Hello, I would like to inform you about our services for: Indonesian Visa and Immigration (for example KITAS, Multi-Entry Visa). PT and PMA, Indonesian company formation. Licences and Permits for Indonesia (ex. Import Licences). You can contact us here: +6281310881157 (Whatsapp) PIN BB 7E8BA637 http://www.izinindonesia.com/. We speak [...]