KUCHING, Sept 22: Three young Dayak political leaders from both sides of the political fence are appealing to young Dayaks to eschew cheap liquor, especially those from unknown sources.
PKR Mambong chairman Willie Mongin warned that there were now “fake liquor” in the market, while Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Youth chief Datuk Snowdan Lawan said drinks with high alcoholic content was bad for health. PBB Youth deputy chief Miro Simuh, meanwhile, noted that many `brands’ of contraband liquor were available in the rural areas.
These three young leaders are sounding the alarm bell following reports that so far, over 25 people have died and dozens hospitalised with methanol poisoning (some in critical condition) after consuming cheap liquor.
Police said the victims are believed to have consumed two brands of whiskey and a brand of beer bought from various shops in the Klang Valley. These brands have been identified as Mandalay Whiskey, Kingfisher Beer and Grand Royal Whiskey.
Mongin said Dayak youths should stay away from liquor of unknown sources as “we don’t know what substance or ingredient it contains”. As for “fake liquor” in the market, he observed it was sometimes difficult to tell them apart from genuine ones.
“My advice is to drink moderately, responsibly and be alert of what you are consuming,” said Mongin, who is Puncak Borneo MP, to DayakDaily.
Snowdan, who is also Balai Ringin assemblyman and Assistant Sports Minister, revealed that many people in remote villages opted for cheap liquor as they could not afford expensive ones.
“But to me, the question is not about whether it is expensive or cheap. It is the fact that drinking hard liquor constantly will damage our health. They are also many cases where people did not die from drinking the alcohol, but they die from road accidents after drinking. So to me, if possible, avoid drinking totally,” advised Snowdan.
In Sarawak, locally produced hard liquor are priced between RM8 and RM10 for 500ml.
Miro, who is Serembu assemblyman, lamented that contraband liquor was readily available in rural grocery stores, and the origin of these products was unknown.
He agreed that Dayak youths should not drink contraband liquor as they might damage their health due to its unknown content.
Apart from cheap liquor, Miro is also concern about synthetic drug abuse among Dayak youths, which he described as a “big problem” in the rural areas.
“In Bau, there are even cases where drug pushers are caught in schools,” he disclosed.
Meanwhile, former state Health director Dr Zulkifli Jantan, when contacted, said during his 35 years of medical service in Sarawak — six of which was as health director — he had witnessed at least one death caused by drinking cheap liquor.
“I don’t have the record with me, but I can tell you there was definitely at least one case that involved death caused by drinking cheap liquor,” he said.
Methanol, an alcohol compound used in making spurious liquor, is harmless in tiny amounts but can be lethal in larger concentrations. — DayakDaily