Understanding Bootleg Phenomenon & How To Stop It

It just the 11th day of the month (April) and there have been more than a 100 deaths from drinking toxic bootleg in Indonesia according to The Washington Post. This is a very tragic phenomenon. After knowing this phenomenon, a question keeps buzzing in my mind, how to stop it? So I decided to analyze it, and today I’m gonna share it with you. Initially, here are the drinking habits of Indonesians according to WHO.


These are the liters of pure alcohol that Indonesian consume per capita (that means total pure alcohol consumption divided by Indonesia populations). The numbers are stable and stagnate. We could see that 83% of alcohol consumed by Indonesians are Unrecorded. To benchmark this statistics, we gonna compare the statistics with another country that is similar with Indonesia (culturally, geographically, and economically), which is Malaysia.

As you can see, the alcohol consumption level of Malaysians towering the consumptions of Indonesians. The unrecorded level is also way below Indonesia which is 37.5%. The main reasons for those gaps are because of the strict control that the government of Indonesia applies to Indonesians. Compared to Malaysia which is way less strict. These are the detail.

Indonesia =

Malaysia =

We could see that the strict controls and prohibitions are successful to lowers the alcohol consumption levels. But, to make it relevant to the bootleg phenomenon, we need to know what is the cause of death. According to MedicalNewsToday, one of the most common alcohol-related death is because of liver disease. So let’s analyze the correlation between liver disease and alcohol consumption in both countries, Indonesia and Malaysia. First, let’s analyze Malaysia’s statistic.

So, the ASDR is the number of people who die per 100.000 populations. So it’s mean that 11.1 from 100.000 Male Malaysians die because of liver cirrhosis. AAF is the percentage in which the consumption of alcohol is the main reason for the death. Next, here are the Indonesia stats =

To make it easier to understand, let’s make it into a table comparing both countries.

This shocking for me, because I thought that the law minimizes the number of alcohol-related victims. Because to be honest, if we compare again the stat from WHO, the gap between Malaysia and Indonesia aren’t that far. Let’s have another look.

I need to keep reminding you that there are major differences in the regulations factor. So how this happens? Well, the main possible explanation is because of Bootleg. But what is bootleg anyway?

In Indonesia Bootleg is made with mixing real liquor with soft drinks, but sometimes they mixed it with anti-mosquito spray, methanol, etc. This will give the drinker identical feeling with being drunk. But the difference is that this kind of liquor is lethal and should not be consumed by a human.

According to hipwee.com (Indonesia Media), the main reason why people drink bootleg or “oplosan” in Bahasa Indonesia is because bootleg is way more affordable than legal drinks. The government of Indonesia charges 150% tax on imported liquors. This made any beverages containing alcohol are so expensive. To know Indonesians financial condition, these are the classifications of Indonesians based on income level made by Boston Consulting Group.

In the left side, is the population condition in 2012. As we can see, that the majority of Indonesian are classified as poor, aspirant, and emerging middle. So that means that most of Indonesians can’t really afford liquor with extremely high prices. For example, if an aspirant person wants to buy Smirnoff vodka, then he/ she basically spend about 1/3 of their total income. That’s why they decided to drink a cheaper one which is a bootleg.

Now reaching the final part of the post which is “What should we do?”. We are facing a huge dilemma here. The choice number 1 is to control bootleg consumption as best as we can so we could minimize the number of victims. That’s what the government trying to do currently.

Conversely,  there is a 2nd choice which is to loosen up the control. Now, I’m not a law school or politics student, I’m far from an expert on this subject. But potentially, loosen up the law could reduce the number of people using bootleg which could lead to lower alcohol-related deaths.

Take Turkey as an example.

Primarily, Turkish consumptions are way higher than Indonesia (3,3 times more than Indonesia), and their unrecorded alcohol is pretty low which is 33% compared to Indonesia (83%).

Additionally, their law is way less strict than Indonesia, but a little stricter than Malaysia. As you can see there are a couple of things that are legal in Malaysia but illegal in Turkey. Such as stricter legal limit, etc

Finally, their death rate is way lower than Indonesia and Malaysia. Based on all the statistics and my own analysis, there is a sweet spot where we could minimize the alcohol-related death.

The sweet spot is when the law isn’t that strict but still controlling the amount and the accessibility of alcohol. In that spot, the demand for alcohol is facilitated, so that the demander will not consume bootleg liquor which is very dangerous.But of course, there are a lot of variables that I don’t really analyze in this post. So this idea is untested and still needs a much more deeper analysis.

Thank you very much for reading. If you have any comment, leave it in the comment box below. Thanks!


(n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.greenfacts.org/glossary/abc/alcohol-attributable-fractions.htm

FNP, K. D. (2018, February 19). 10 health risks of chronic heavy drinking: Liver disease, pancreatitis, cancer. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/297734.php

Firger, J. (2014, May 12). Alcohol deaths on the rise worldwide. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/alcohol-deaths-on-the-rise-worldwide/

Global status report on alcohol and health 2014. (2016, October 24). Retrieved from http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/publications/global_alcohol_report/en/

Griffiths, J. (2018, April 13). More than 80 dead from drinking fake alcohol. Retrieved from https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/12/health/indonesia-fake-alcohol-intl/index.html

Indonesia’s Rising Middle-Class and Affluent Consumers: Asia’s Next Big Opportunity. (2013, March 05). Retrieved from https://www.bcg.com/publications/2013/center-consumer-customer-insight-consumer-products-indonesias-rising-middle-class-affluent-consumers.aspx

Jakarta Post. (n.d.). Import tax on alcohol jumps to 150%. Retrieved from http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2015/07/23/import-tax-alcohol-jumps-150.html

Karmini | AP, N. (2018, April 11). Indonesia alcohol deaths exceed 100 as police vow crackdown. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/police-indonesia-bootleg-alcohol-deaths-exceed-100/2018/04/11/48709172-3d49-11e8-955b-7d2e19b79966_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.c96364db643a

Rania, D. (n.d.). 5 Alasan Miris Kenapa Banyak Orang Masih Minum Miras Oplosan. Padahal Korban Terus Berjatuhan. Retrieved from https://www.hipwee.com/feature/5-alasan-miris-kenapa-banyak-orang-masih-minum-miras-oplosan-padahal-korban-terus-berjatuhan/

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