February 19, 2009 - Thousands of farmers joined a rally Monday, February 16, 2009 at a public park in Temanggung regency, Central Java, to protest a bill on the health impacts of tobacco products. Wisnubrata, secretary-general of the Indonesian Tobacco Farmers Association's Temanggung branch: "If it's passed, the bill will result in huge losses for tobacco farmers. We will set up a team and send it to Jakarta to express our rejection of the bill."
Indonesian tobacco farmers are opposed to an edict issued by the Council of Indonesias Ulema (MUI) (a quasi-government council of Muslim scholar - give guidance on many issues including smoking for Moslems) forbidding Muslims in Indonesia to smoke although the country earns tens of trillions of rupiah of its revenues from cigarette taxes. Abdurrahman, chairman of the Tobacco Farmers Association in Jember which has 6,000 hectares of tobacco plantations in East Java.: “The edict will affect the income of tobacco growers and indirectly impact on people who want to smoke.” He expressed regret about the MUI edict which banned children, expecting mothers and people in public places from smoking, saying tobacco growers would not obey it and continue to plant tobacco to support their families. Mubaroq, MUI's Temanggung chairman, claimed the edict was just a good call for people to avoid the habit.
Temanggung Regent Hasyim Affandi supported the farmers. "Go ahead to Jakarta. I've read the bill, it doesn't accommodate the farmers' interests. But the team should bring a proposal to counter the bill," he said.
House of Representatives member Suswono, who attended the rally, said the bill had actually been proposed by an NGO (non-government organizations). The bill is not prioritized for deliberation. When it gets discussed, we will ask for input from various parties," he said.
Reference: Thousands of farmers protest bill on control of tobacco, Suherdjoko , The Jakarta Post, 2/19/2009.
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Click on image to enlarge.. The debate over smoking revealed a split between those wanting to make it "haram" (forbidden), or not allowed, and others who favored "makruh" (objectionable), an Arabic term whereby it would only be advised that smoking is bad and it is better to drop it. The fatwa is the decision issued by the Council of Moslem scholars - MUI.