KUALA Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) latest ruling to curb the sale of liquor and the subsequent announcement by a deputy minister that the curb might extend to the rest of the country is unnecessary.
On Nov 16, DBKL announced that, starting in October next year, sundry shops, grocery stores, convenience stores and Chinese medicine shops can no longer sell liquor (“DBKL imposes hard liquor sales restrictions on shops from next year”, StarMetro, Nov 16; online at bit.ly/star_stop). On Nov 21, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Ahmad Marzuk Shaary was reported as saying that the government has not ruled out expanding the ban to other states (“Liquor sale ban may be expanded”, Sunday Star, Nov 22; online at bit.ly/star_extended).
This is a tactic to test the waters, and something that began in June with Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa calling on the government to stop issuing liquor licence (“FT Minister: Stop issuing liquor licences until new guidelines in place, laws revised”, The Star, June 1; online at bit.ly/star_issue). Ahmad Marzuk’s latest suggestion is like allowing a part of the camel into the tent.
The public, especially non-Muslims, are mindful of what has been previously said by leaders of PAS. Non-Muslims have been frequently assured they would not be subjected to regulations pertaining to Islam and Islamic affairs, including in the hudud issue. Non-Muslims have been told that they can consume non-halal food so long as their religions permit it. As such, Patriot (Persatuan Patriot Kebang-saan) would like to remind Ahmad Marzuk and PAS leaders not to make a mockery of their own words.
If curbing liquor sales is related to drink-driving, there are better ways to tackle the problem. The approach must be an all-inclusive consultation that includes the business community not merely with a select group. If health is the issue, there are numerous other foods and beverages that are worse for health compared with beer and mild liquor.
It is not Patriot’s business to promote alcohol. But upholding social justice and the value of righteousness, encouraging fair business practices and speaking up against bullying tactics are within the bounds of our business.
For generations, we have existed as a multiracial and multireligious nation living with tolerance, understanding and mutual respect among the three major races. It was based on this understanding, among others, that we gained our independence on a platter in 1957.
Politicians need to be reminded of the ramifications of their decision to curb liquor sales and to not issue licences. These extend to jobs, small businesses, transport, restaurants, hotels, tourism and our national income.
Which is more evil: drinking liquor or corruption? Which is more damaging to our society and nation? Also, consider the number of politicians currently facing corruption charges.
What action should be prioritised: banning liquor or eradicating the scourge of corruption?
BRIG-GEN DATUK MOHAMED ARSHAD RAJI (Rtd)
President, Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot)
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