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Aussies warned of toxic drink dangers in Bali as teenager di

Indonesia Institute
Indonesia Institute Inc.
(The Indonesia Institute is a Western Australia-based and internationally recognized non-government organization established to represent Australian and Indonesian social, cultural, political and community interests.
It acts as an effective and responsible lobby group to government and facilitates networking opportunities for those interested in Indonesia-Australia affairs.

MEDIA RELEASE

Aussies warned of toxic drink dangers in Bali as teenager dies

A WA teenager has died after being poisoned by a methanol-based drink in the Indonesian Island of Lombok three days ago.

Australians have been warned about the dangers of 'toxic' drinks, including 'Arak' wine, that are now making their way onto the market in Bali and the nearby islands.

Mr. Ross Taylor, Chairman of the WA-based Indonesia Institute said that whilst the latest methanol-poisoning incident was 'a tragedy' and extremely worrying, it was not overly surprising that these incidents were on the increase.

"Arak wine is the drink of poor people in Indonesia and the Middle East", said Mr. Taylor. "It is traditionally produced in remote villages where there are no laws or restrictions on what ingredients are used, including the use of methanol and other sometimes lethal spirits and chemicals".

But with the dramatic rise in tourists visiting Bali and neighboring islands, and in particular the increase in really naive young travelers, it has been a 'natural' progression that this stuff makes its way into bars and nightclubs".

Mr. Taylor said these drinks can be made for under 30c per litre, yet can be sold in Kuta and Legian for twenty times that amount.

"Its easy business, but it can kill you", said Mr. Taylor adding that Indonesian laws covering the production of such drinks were 'very weak'.

Mr Taylor said that it was a shocking tragedy that a young boy would die whilst holidaying in Bali and it was even more disturbing that on this occasion his death appears not to have been caused by 'misbehaviour' of 'binge drinking' as is often the case amongst Australians in Bali and Lombok.

"The danger of cosuming spirit-based drinks from small and less reputable bars is that you can die from just one glass of spirits that has come from the 'wrong' supplier and the 'wrong' bottle. The truth is, locally-based spirit drinks such as ARAK, can contain varied amounts of methanol; no one really knows as it is produced by 'backyard' operators.

"Indonesia's problem with Arak is not dis-similar to our problem with ICE in that it is produced in an uncontrolled environment by inexperienced people using crude and cheap equipment. It is very dangerous", said Mr Taylor.

"Unfortunately too many Australians are treating Bali and Lombok as if these places were their own back yard", he said. "These islands are a wonderful place for a holiday but they are still part of a third-world country that is a long way behind places like Australia in terms of legal and medical protections that we take for granted".

Mr. Taylor said holiday makers wanting alchol-based drinks should consume Bintang beer which is cheap and safe in moderation, or wine from authorized producers. He urged particularly young people to avoid spirit-based drinks and to also to be extremely careful of having their drinks 'spiked' at nightclubs and bars.

ENDS

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