Alcohol consumption: Sapa tells Pas to respect people’s private affairs

Peter John Jaban (file photo)

KUCHING, May 28: Protecting public safety can be achieved without impinging on people’s private affairs and if Pas cannot respect that, then perhaps they have no business in the government, opines Sapa.

According to Sarawak Aspiration for People’s Aspirations (Sapa) information and publicity chief Peter John Jaban, many Malaysians, especially Sarawakians, are up in arms at Parti Islam Se-Malaysia or Pas’ ‘thinly veiled’ attempt to impose Islamic beliefs and practices on the whole country under the guise of public safety in their call to ban alcohol consumption to prevent drunk driving.

“As Pas embed themselves in government, Solidariti Anak Sarawak (SAS) and Sapa is calling on all elected representatives, especially those from Sarawak, to reject this and any future attempts to pass Islamic legislation ‘through the backdoor’,” Peter John asserted in a statement today.

He pointed out that these were the very reasons why Sarawakians have been gravely concerned that Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) is in coalition with Pas, a party whose stated goals go contrary to the collective culture, racial harmony and freedom of choice in Sarawak.

“They only make decisions based on their own narrow world view and expect everyone else to simply submit.

“Frankly, Pas is insulting our intelligence. Anyone with half a brain can see that this has little to do with preventing drunk driving and instead is more about banning alcohol consumption following Pas’ openly Islamist agenda.

“In this announcement, Pas is treating the people of Malaysia like children and completely ignoring our rights to determine the course of our own lives as voting adults,” he asserted in response to Pas information chief Kamaruzaman Mohamad’s call on the government to immediately suspsend alcohol sales and production to prevent drunk driving in Malaysia.

Malaysia, Peter John noted, is a multi-cultural nation where the vast majority of the population choose to responsibly consume alcohol in moderation, as do billions of people around the world.

On drunk driving, he emphasised that the only appropriate response was to target the wrongdoers as bans on alcohol around the world have rarely been successful but instead lead to widespread underground activity and a significant loss of taxation revenue for governments.

“This is why the Malaysian government must remain secular and abstain from interfering in the personal lives of citizens where they have no remit, especially in Sarawak.

“Sarawak has a unique cultural and social mix and has a non-Muslim majority. We also welcome visitors from around the world with respect for their lifestyles and personal choices.

“A ban on alcohol will put us in a small minority of nations who choose to implement one and label Malaysians as Islamic extremists. Even Dubai has not taken this step,” he claimed.

Peter John added that Pas’ suggestion will drive every single bar and entertainment outlet in Malaysia, already suffering from the Movement Control Order (MCO), out of business and completely kill the tourism industry which also teetering on the brink of destruction.

“For us in Sarawak, alcohol is an integral part of our legendary social life and welcoming nature.

“Kamaruzaman should visit a longhouse during Gawai before he makes his pronouncements to curtail the cultural life of our state. Then perhaps he can report back to (Pas president) Abdul Hadi Awang on the proper use of ‘cawat’!

“Personally, I do not even believe they speak for the majority of Muslims in Malaysia who are perfectly happy to allow the rest of the population to make their own choices. This first salvo is potentially just the beginning. First it will be alcohol, then sales of non-halal products, then Hudud law.

“Perhaps they are seeking to shut down Genting Highlands next because of the dangerous road on the way,” he claimed.

This agenda, Peter John emphasised, will damage the economy irreparably, not to mention the unique culture of Sarawak and Malaysia where many traditional practices could suddenly be outlawed.

“Sarawak’s Muslims have always had close cooperation with citizens professing other religions.

“Sas and Sapa are calling on all GPS representatives to guard this long history of mutual respect. Policies must be focused on the greater good and should actually have a good chance of solving the problem,” he added. — DayakDaily