Do not let the ultra-conservative faction take away your right to enjoy a tipple

Letter to editor

THE proverb one man’s meat is another man’s poison is applicable with PAS having reacted negatively to the lifting of ban on sale of alcohol at convenience stores, sundry shops and Chinese medicine halls.

In a statement, Federal Territories PAS Youth information chief Abdul Razak Ramli said the decision was regrettable and disappointing because it would allegedly lead to more social problems.

“Muslims must rise up against the lackadaisical attitude of the government which has taken a back step on the issue of alcohol sale in Malaysia,” he rallied in a Facebook post.

But “rise up”? Why is everything couched in such aggressive language? Why must PAS make everything sound like a call to arms?

Aside from Abdul Razak, his comrade Tan Sri Annuar Musa who is now PAS central committee member also hit out at the unity government for lifting the alcohol sale ban which had been tightened during his tenure as the federal territories’ minister.

“When the government made that decision at the end of 2021, it held intensive negotiations with various stakeholders. We also studied the controls imposed by other countries including Singapore and the UK,” the PAS deputy elections chief penned on his Facebook page.

Tan Sri Annuar Musa

“There is no good reason to relax the control of the sale of alcohol except for the constant insistence of those who want to make a good profit from the sale of alcohol.”

Social problems?

Interestingly, smoking which has been declared haram is not perceived in the same manner by PAS.

Recall that Malaysia’s National Fatwa Council first issued a fatwa against smoking in 1996 when it declared smoking haram because of its detrimental health effects. In 2015, the National Fatwa Council followed-up by issuing a fatwa declaring e-cigarettes a.k.a. vaping haram because of their harmful health effects and bad smell.

Would Abdul Razak care to explain why PAS hasn’t asked Muslims to “rise up” against those who peddle tobacco and vape products?

Is it because this would have significant economic impact on its demographic of supporters? If that is the case, it has to be borne in mind that the economic cost of the initial alcohol ban is huge as well.

Recall that all sundry shops, convenience stores and Chinese medicine shops were banned from selling liquor under the guidelines enforced on Nov 1, 2021 which prompted the local Chinese community and outlets selling liquor to react strongly against the guidelines.

This has prompted the authorities to adopt a different tact. As earlier reported, liqour sale in Kuala Lumpur will not be subject to any future blanket ban – or uncertainties for that matter – as the new committee members of the Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) Excise Licensing Board has renewed a total of 1,519 applications for liquor licenses in its first meeting held on Nov 23.

This is not the first-time politicians have tried to get on their moral high horse. Former disgraced Selangor Chief Minister Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo dropped the bombshell that the state was not renewing liquor licenses early on his tenure in January 2003.

He also took issue with coffee shops displaying billboards and posters with logo of breweries. U-turns had to be made when there was significant protest from non-Muslim communities on both occasions.

This encroachment into the way other communities lead their lives or conduct business is unwelcome. Even if one does not partake in the consumption of alcohol, non-Muslims should stand up against such drastic rulings that seek to curb freedom of choice.

Be forewarned, let the ultra-conservatives have their way, and it will not stop there. – Dec 1, 2023


Teetotal Citizen
Phileo Damansara

 The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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