I LOVE my alcohol fix as much as any other social drinker. But why are we behaving like drunkards
in a bar brawl over the government’s latest decision to rescind the exemptions for two breweries to operate with limited capacity during the movement control order (MCO) period?The way some of us took to social media over the government’s U-turn is how a drunkard speaks; filled with prejudices, laced with half-truths and lots of imaginary ideas.
And true to the Malaysian DNA, issues out in the public sphere need to have a racial-religious dimension. We blamed the government for buckling to right-wing leaders like Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa, whose portfolio has nothing to do with industries.
We also blamed PAS and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia leaders for piling the pressure on Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who chaired the Cabinet meeting that decided to revoke the leeway.
But aren’t the MCO guidelines clear that only essential businesses and services are allowed to operate? If we decide to give leeway for breweries to operate, what then of cottage industries producing kerepek in Tanjung Malim or frozen otak-otak manufacturers in Muar?
At the heart of this controversy is policy, not political posturing. If a business or service is deemed “essential”, then it should be allowed to operate.
So what if the breweries generate millions of ringgit in tax revenue for the government, not to mention economic spin-offs from its production? Other industries are equally important, if not more.
The Malaysian latex gloves industry has also faced a substantial shrink in production due to the MCO despite the global surge in demand following the Covid-19 pandemic. Even Malaysian condom makers are slashing production, creating a global shortage in the birth control device that may have far-reaching consequences in African countries.
There is a need for consistency in implementing the MCO. The government can ill afford to be seen as biased or lopsided in rolling out policies. Doing so will send jitters to investors at a time when we need more foreign direct investments to prop up an economy hit hard by the MCO.
And the last thing we need is to politicise this issue. Let’s be sober over this and not throw drunken punches because we might just end up with our own blows.
TOH CHENG KHIM
Tanjung Malim, Perak
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