Whiskey maker mulls name change


KUALA LUMPUR: On the same day that the Timah whiskey controversy was raised in Parliament with a PKR MP saying it is like “drinking Malay women”, the government also announced that the manufacturer is mulling a name and image change on the label of its homegrown product.

“There is some good news with regard to the controversial local whiskey Timah after a meeting between the ministry and the manufacturer.

“The manufacturer has agreed to carry out a review based on the uneasiness and worries of some among the Muslim community.

“This shows that Keluarga Malaysia (Malaysian Family) is concerned about religion, race and beliefs,” Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Rosol Wahid said when replying on the issue while tabling the Trade Descriptions (Amendment) Act 2021 in Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

He, however, agreed with several MPs that the matter was a non-issue, which had been used by some quarters to raise sensitivity among the Muslim community.

The whiskey had courted flak from PAS and other Islamic groups in the nation due to its Bahasa Malaysia name, which critics have said alludes to the name of Prophet Muhammad’s daughter, Fatimah.

They had also argued that the portrait on the bottle label resembled a man wearing a kopiah (Muslim skullcap).

The manufacturer had explained that the name Timah referred to tin-mining in colonial Malaya while the man in question is Captain Tristram Speedy, an English officer during that era.

Earlier, during debate in Parliament, Rusnah Aluai (PH-Tangga Batu) said drinking the whiskey was akin to “drinking Malay women”.

“On the brand name Timah, can’t it be called ‘The Mines’, for example?

“It also does not represent a good picture of women as it gives the impression that Timah is a Malay woman such as Kak Timah, Mak Timah or Mak Cik Timah.

“It is as though when we drink the whiskey, we are drinking Malay women,” she said.

She added that the confusion over the whiskey brand also extended to the picture.

“It is truly confusing as the brand includes a picture of Captain Speedy wearing a kopiah. Isn’t there any other photograph of him in a different hat that they (manufacturer) can use?” she asked.

Rusnah’s remarks later drew much ire online from multiracial users, who said there were many more pressing issues to tackle than an “irrelevant” one.

Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (BN-Pengerang) said the product name was not an issue.

“Long ago, when we were young, there were the A&W hot dogs and coney dogs.

“My child loves to eat hot dogs, so do I tell her not to eat anjing panas (literal translation of ‘hot dog’)?

“I think what’s more important here is to educate our society on being able to think more logically,” she said.

Khalid Samad (PH-Shah Alam), while acknowledging the sensitivity of the Muslim community, said the issue was played up by certain quarters for their own political agenda.Meanwhile, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi said in a statement yesterday that Winepak Corporation (M) Sdn Bhd had agreed to consider the change following a discussion held with the government on Wednesday.

The company, he said, had asked for a week to discuss with its stakeholders and board of directors on changing the name and image on the label of the alcoholic beverage, which has been a hot topic on social and electronic media since early this month.

“The hybrid meeting was conducted in a harmonious environment within the concept of Keluarga Malaysia to reach a consensus for the good of the nation,” Nanta said.

The meeting on Wednesday followed the first discussion held between Winepak and the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) on Monday, he added.

He also said the ministry, through MyIPO, would improve the procedure, which involved multiple ministries and relevant agencies, to prevent a similar issue from recurring.

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