Tobacco-control activists in Indonesia have threatened to file a law suit against Social Affairs Minister Khofifah Indar Parawansa for distributing cigarettes to an indigenous tribe in Jambi, according to a story in The Jakarta Globe quoting Merdeka.com.
They have given Khofifah two-weeks to apologize for the action or face legal action.
“We will file a legal suit at the district court because the social affairs minister was deliberately ignoring public health by distributing free cigarettes,” Tulus Abadi, operational manager at the Indonesian Consumers Foundation, said at a press conference on Friday.
Khofifah was criticized after a picture circulated on the internet of her distributing care packages, which included cigarettes, to the indigenous Anak Dalam tribe in Jambi.
The minister was visiting the tribe to express her condolences for the death of 11 people who died of starvation.
Khofifah has dismissed the criticism by saying the free cigarette distribution was just a way to get on the good side of the locals.
“I don’t want to argue but you’d better go there yourself,” she said. “Greet them and ask them about their culture. Do not see things from a Jakarta-centric perspective.”