It was Friday, December 5. 2008. The King Bhumibol’s Birthday.
It was shortly after lunch when I wanted to have some singha, Thailand local beer. So I went to the a supermarket near to the place where we were staying, the Crystal Spring House, owned by Payap University, Chiangmay.

I was happy to see singha, in both cans and bottles, were on the display. So immediately I took couples of bottles and brought to the cashier. “Thanks goodness, there was nobody in the line” I said to myself.

But, what happened was, the cashier waved his hand, and told me something in Thai. (nothing surprising about this since I can be a Thai in Thailand, a Filipina in the Philipines, or a Malaysian in Malaysia, or Singaporean in Singapore or… you can make the list longer…). Anyway, it took us sometimes to understand be able to communicate. Finally he understood that I am not a Thai. So he simply said: BEER NO SELL. (This I easily understood what he’s trying to say because I have visited Thailand for quite a view times).

“Why?” I asked.
“Beer no sell” was again his answer.
“But you have it in the display???” I tried to argue
“Beer no sell, police!”
“Why” I simply repeated it. I thought with this language barrier I couldn’t ask him long question.
“beer no sell, today” was his answer.
“Really? Okay…., sorry” I guess I had no chance.
“solly, thank you…” He was trying to be kind, still.

So I left, more puzzled than disappointed.

Driven by curiosity, I tried to find somebody to explain to me.

Later in the day, I brought the issue to Beng Seng and Hope, friends, a couple who happened to be staying in Chiangmai as they are working for CCA.

From them I learned that in Thailand, alcoholic drinks are easy to find in the market, sold for free, is legal. But the law strictly prohibits selling and buying alcoholic drinks during working hours. And the people are very observant, that’s why I found my singha on the display but could not the cashier refused to sell it to me because it was working hr. The idea is not to encourage people from taking alcohol during working hours. The law also restricts person under 18 to buy an alcoholic drink.

Wow… although I have been traveling back and forth to Thailand since 2000, only now I realized the legal system in the country regarding alcoholic drinks. And I was so impressed by it.

My mind was immediately flew back to my home country.
In Indonesia, alcoholic drinks are rated in different categories, and not just any store is permited to sell it except the lowest category only (bearing alcohol less than 12%??). Sounds good too, ha?
But there is no restriction of time and age. So you can easily find people are buying alcoholic drinks during working hours and get drunk… including those under 18!

This is not to mention how bad the law enforcement on this issue: It is not surprising to find teenagers buying alcoholic drinks, and the seller will never say no, but just sell it to them.

In the name of protecting the moral lives of the people, alcoholic drinks are sold at hight price due to high tax. But as law enforcement is so bad, as a result, black market on alcoholic drinks is mushrooming.

Then, in the name of religion, many hardline groups often seem to be more powerful than the police, they can anytime destroy your store and even your private house, once they do sweeping and find one in your store/house. This of course should be considered violent crime, but what do you say, this is Indonesia Bung! Semua bisa diatur!

Solo is the place where such incidence often takes place. I hope jogja is still sterilized from such stupid, short minded, action.

Nias, 19 December 2008


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