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Note of Editor: This news has been updated with more background details today (Oct 29, 2021) at 12 noon
KUCHING, Oct 28: Instead of focusing on the name of a brand of whiskey, Malaysia should focus on addressing the core issue of excessive drinking.
To Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii, whatever the brand name, alcohol is forbidden in Islam, but the rights of non-Muslims to drink should be respected.
“We cannot allow ourselves to give into such extreme rhetoric and allow a ‘non-issue’ like a whiskey’s name to be blown out of proportion, when Malaysia takes pride in moderation, as well as multiracial and multicultural harmony,” said Dr Yii in a press statement today.
He expressed disappointment that the Federal government chose to give into “extreme rhetoric and sentiments” perpetrated by certain quarters, especially PAS and UMNO, over a non-issue of merely a “product’s name”, when there are many other things they should be focusing on, including the rising prices of goods and materials right now in the country.
“This is in view of the recent statement by the Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs YB Alexander Nanta Linggi who said that the company manufacturing the homegrown whiskey Timah has agreed to consider changing the name and image on the label of their award-winning product after an engagement with his Ministry.
“It is also disappointing that this came from a Sarawakian GPS (Gabungan Parti Sarawak) minister,” said Dr Yii.
He held that this issue was suddenly and senselessly been blown out of proportion.
“An issue that is supposed to be a matter on ‘trade description and trademarks’ should not be blown up to provoke a religious or racial controversy by any party.
“This basically sets a dangerous precedent in our country where mere product names can be said to confuse any segment of the community and thus must be changed. This will make us a laughingstock of the international community,” said Dr Yii.
On Oct 18, PAS Dewan Ulama (DUPP) expressed concern over the use of the name “Timah” as a whisky brand. It called for a stop to the promotion and sale of the liquor, to prevent any negative impact on society.
Its manufacturer Winepak had recently found itself at the center of a controversy after certain quarters took offence at the name of the product, claiming that it sounded like a shortened version of the Arabic name “Fatimah”.
Furthermore, the label on the bottle features a bearded man wearing what appears to be a skullcap.
Winepak had previously issued a statement on its social media explaining that Timah actually refers to tin, to honour the role the metal played in the country’s development when Malaya was the world’s largest tin producer.
It also pointed out that the man depicted on the bottle was Captain Tristram Charles Sawyer Speedy, who introduced whiskey culture back then.
Meanwhile, yesterday at Parliament, Pakatan Harapan Tangga Batu MP Rusnah Aluai likened drinking Timah Whisky to “drinking a Malay woman”.
She said the imagery was confusing and should be changed, saying that the brand name is not good for women because “Timah is imagined as a Malay woman, Kak Timah, Mak Timah, Mak Cik Timah, so when we drink the whisky, its as tough we are drinking a Malay woman”. — DayakDaily