The Jakarta Globe, February 13, 2013,
Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara. Authorities in North Lombok district have launched a campaign to stop sales of methanol-tainted drinks on the popular holiday island of Gili Trawangan following the death of an Australian teenager last month from consuming such a beverage.
Jumarep, a spokesman for the district administration, which oversees the Gili islands, said on Monday that local officials were concerned that a travel advisory issued by Australia in the wake of the death of 19-year-old Liam Davies would affect the flow of tourists to the area.
He said that in response, authorities including the local Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) would go around to bars in Gili Trawangan to discourage bar owners from selling traditional spirits, often spiked with methanol.
“This is our first step toward cleaning up our image in the wake of the death of the foreign tourist,” Jumarep said.
“We’re trying to prevent sales of alcoholic drinks that are not registered with the BPOM.”
However, the campaign does not address the issue of brand-name liquor adulterated with methanol, reportedly a common practice in the Gili Trawangan bars.
Davies died on Jan. 6 after drinking a vodka lime spiked with methanol during a New Year’s Eve party at the popular Rudy’s Bar. However, Riza Lorien, a bartender at the establishment, claimed that none of the drinks sold there were tainted.
He also suggested that Davies may have drunk a methanol-laced beverage at another bar before coming to Rudy’s.
“None of our other customers have ever had problems or complaints after drinking here,” he said.
Police are investigating the death but have not named any suspects in the case.
In September 2011, an Australian woman suffered brain damage and kidney failure after drinking at a Lombok bar, while an Australian man died days later in Bali from drinking traditional spirits.