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Note of editor: This news has been updated at 12 noon today (Oct 29, 2021) with more background details
KUCHING, Oct 29: Describing Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii as “scraping the bottom of the barrel”, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Lingga holds that the latter is politicising the Timah whiskey issue as much as those who he had criticised.
In a statement yesterday, Nanta said Dr Yii was also quick to take advantage of religious and racial issues to gain political mileage.
“Dr Kelvin Yii is politicising the Timah whiskey issue just like those ‘certain quarters’ that he criticised.
“It is no longer any surprise that DAP (Democratic Action Party) is always thinking and acting just like PAS and Umno; always very quick to try to gain a political advantage out of religious and racial sentiments and issues, like what Dr Kelvin Yii is doing right now,” said Nanta.
Nanta, who is also Kapit MP, said that Dr Yii was also trying to run down Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) as the Sarawak Election is around the corner.
He pointed out that the agency that approved the brand name of the whiskey, Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO), is under the purview of his ministry.
As the minister of KPDNHEP, he said, it is only right for him to organise a discussion where the wine manufacturer, Winepak Sdn Bhd was given the opportunity to explain, clarify and defend their position.
He said the discussion ended amicably, where after listening to each others’ viewpoints, the manufacturer agreed to come back to KPDNHEP in a week’s time, hopefully with a mutually acceptable solution to the controversy.
“Unlike Dr Kelvin Yii and DAP, I do not need to rely and capitalise on racial and religious issues least of all, cunningly instigate dangerous sentiments amongst our multi-religious, multi-racial and muliti-cultural society for my political mission and success.
“Dr Kelvin Yii is fast showing his true colours, a budding politician who is ever ready and trigger happy shooting from the hip to capitalise and sensationalise racial and religious sentiments hoping to garner support and gain popularity among his like-minded followers.
“Like scraping the bottom of the barrel,” said Nanta in response to Dr Yii’s statement yesterday (Oct 28).
Instead of focusing on the name of a brand of whiskey, Dr Yii said Malaysia should focus on addressing the core issue of excessive drinking.
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.
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 Whiskey 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 whiskey, its as tough we are drinking a Malay woman”. — DayakDaily