KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 — Veterans’ group Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot) has condemned the recent decision by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to ban the sale of liquor in sundry shops, grocery stores and convenience stores, calling it “unnecessary and ridiculous”.
Its president Brigadier General Datuk Mohamed Arshad Raji (Rtd) also took Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Ahmad Marzuk Shaary to task, after the latter said yesterday that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government has not ruled out extending the ban to other states.
“The public could see through that it was a tactic of testing for height all the way since last June when Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa made the call to the government to stop issuing liquor licenses,” he said in a statement.
Arshad urged Ahmad Shaary and his fellow leaders in PAS to not make a mockery of their earlier promises that non-Muslims would not be subjected to regulations pertaining to Islam and Islamic affairs, and that they could consume non-halal food so long as their religion permits it.
“Otherwise public perception of their hypocrisy will only worsen. If curbing of liquor sale is because of drink-driving, there are better ways to tackle the problem.
“The approach must be an all-inclusive consultation including the business community, not merely with a show-making select group,” he said.
Arshad further argued that if matters of health are the issue in question, the authorities should know there are many other food and beverages that are worse for health compared to beer and mild liquor.
“It is not Patriot’s business to promote any alcoholic drink. But upholding social justice and the value of righteousness, encouraging fair business practices, and voicing up against bullying tactic; are within the bounds of our business.
“Our Malaysian society had existed for generations. We have been a multi-racial and a multi-religious nation living in tolerance, understanding and mutual respect among the three major races,” he said.
The retired brigadier-general also said that politicians must be reminded of the ramifications of their decision to curb liquor sales and not issuing licenses.
“These include jobs, small businesses, transport, restaurants, hotels, tourism, and our national income. Also, others might see our leaders as Taliban-like.
“We would like to ask the pious Ahmad Shaary to tell us which is more evil — drinking liquor or corruption. Which is more damaging to our society and nation? Which evil attracts the Malay most?” he questioned.
Similarly, Arshad also extended the question to Annuar, asking both leaders to decide whether banning liquor or eradicating the scourge of corruption among Malay-Muslims is more important.
DBKL’s decision, announced on Tuesday, is set to come into force on October 1 next year. The ban also applies to traditional Chinese medicine halls or herbalist stores, with an exemption on pure or mixed liquor products which are used and sold for medicinal purposes.
Ahmad Shaary’s remarks also saw him defending DBKL’s decision by citing the positive feedback from civil society, including Muslims and non-Muslims, on implementing the ban.