PETALING JAYA: Former Armed Forces chief General (Rtd) Tan Sri Dr Hashim Mohd Ali voiced his opposition to the ban on the sale of hard liquor at sundry and grocery shops, as well as convenience stores and Chinese medicine shops in Kuala Lumpur.
Hashim, who is also president of a group made up of retired armed forces chiefs known as the Chiefs Circle, said the Armed Forces is made up of both Muslims and non-Muslims and the open purchase and drinking of liquor for non-Muslim officers from the Malaysian Armed Forces Trading Corp (Pernama) stores has never been a problem.
"In fact, it allowed senior officers to monitor the purchase and drinking behaviour of non-Muslim armed forces personnel under their watch," he said.
Hashim, who is also a former Pernama chairman, was echoing the views of Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan president Datuk Brig-General (Rtd) Mohamed Arshad Raji who on Monday (Nov 23) also opposed the move by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).
Hashim said he shared Arshad's view that the rights of the non-Muslims must be respected.
"While it is not my business to promote alcohol consumption, we must respect the rights of non-Muslims, as we live in a multi-religious country and for many generations, there have been no problems on the sale of liquor at these outlets," he said.
He added that there are also no local studies and evidence to link the sale of liquor from such outlets to drink driving or health problems.
"There are far more harmful things such as cigarettes that are being sold from these outlets and there must be no double standards involved in coming out with such a policy to curb the sale of liquor.
"Furthermore, the last thing that our economy needs in this Covid-19 pandemic and after is further curbs to legitimate business activities," he said.
Hashim also found it alarming that Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Ahmad Marzuk Shaary would suggest that the ban may be extended to other states.
Marzuk made the statement on Saturday (Nov 21), saying that he did not rule out the possibility of the rule being extended outside Kuala Lumpur.
Hashim also called for the ban to be rescinded otherwise it could undermine the spirit of Rukun Negara, national unity and cultural harmony, as well as the diversity enjoyed by both Muslims and non-Muslims.
"I would like to remind ministerial newbies not to be blindly overzealous in enforcing their religious beliefs on Malaysians of other faiths. That in itself is against the fundamental tenets of Islam, which commands Muslims in authority to protect the rights and liberties of non-Muslims under their care," he said.
On Nov 16, DBKL announced that starting Oct 1 next year, sundry and grocery shops, convenience stores as well as Chinese medicine shops in Kuala Lumpur will not be allowed to sell hard liquor.
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