Parti Sarawak Bersatu chief accuses PAS of hidden agenda in proposal to suspend booze trade

A Jaya Grocer staff arranging cans of beer in Ipoh. — Picture by Farhan Najib
A Jaya Grocer staff arranging cans of beer in Ipoh. — Picture by Farhan Najib

KUCHING, May 29 — Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) today accused PAS of having a hidden religious agenda when it called for the suspension on the production and businesses related to alcohol in the name of protecting public safety against drunk driving.

PSB president Datuk Sri Wong Soon Koh claimed such an agenda is tantamount to imposing the party’s religious values without due regard to the cultural and religious sensitivities of all non-Muslims.

He added it is bound to generate adverse, hostile, and even violent consequences that do not augur well for national peace and unity.

“Using religion as an instrument for restriction, coercion or domination against believers of other religions is inimical to the concept of cultural and ethnic pluralism which is the foundation of our society,” he said.

Wong, who is also a former state second minister of finance, was commenting on PAS information chief Kamaruzaman Mohamad’s call for the federal government to immediately suspension on all productions, businesses, and sales of alcoholic beverages as new measures could be taken to prevent drunk driving.

He, however, agreed with Kamaruzaman’s concern for the safety of the people brought about by incidents of drunk driving, adding that there are sufficient measures implemented in the law to solve the problems.

“If such measures were to be strictly enforced, the issue of drunk driving can be prevented much like what is being widely and effectively carried out in countries such as Australia and Ireland,” he said.

Wong, however, stated that Kamaruzaman’s call for the suspension of the sale of alcohol, or worse still, an immediate suspension of production and businesses related to that including the sale of alcoholic beverages, has some serious religious undertones.

“In a democracy such as ours, the right to religious beliefs and freedom of practices are enshrined in the Federal Constitution,” he said, pointing out that the government, in accordance with the principle of just and fairness, must take care of the interests of all communities, not just one.

“We must understand the realities of the demands of a multiracial, multireligious and multicultural society like ours,” he said.

Wong stressed official policy should not dictate or encourage forced-assimilation, adding that a policy of unity in diversity must be actively promoted through mutual respect and tolerance.

“PSB will not stand for any extremist ideology and urges all Sarawakians to reject PAS from afflicting their radicalism and racism to our multiracial and harmonious state,” he said.


 

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