'Alcohol sales ban against Sabah, Sarawak rights'
Published on: Wednesday, June 03, 2020
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Kota Kinabalu: The call for a total ban of alcohol production and consumption will amount to an infringement of the cultural rights of Sabah and Sarawak’s indigenous community.

Sabah DAP secretary, Chan Foong Hin (pic) said the production of alcohol based brew and its consumption was part of the indigenous cultures in the two East Malaysian states, especially during cultural celebrations such as Kaamatan and Gawai.

“The art of fermenting rice, coconut, or other plants to be made into wine is an intangible heritage recognised by the United Nations and has been passed down for generations all over the world, not just in Sabah and Sarawak.

“For Perikatan Nasional (PN) to take easy way out by imposing a ‘freeze’ in the issuance of alcohol licence, it did not consider the local culture of Borneo,” said Chan in a statement Tuesday.

The Kota Kinabalu Member of Parliament said the PN federal government’s behaviour has demonstrated that they have no respect for Sabahan and Sarawakian’s local culture and heritage.

He was commenting on Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin’s remarks earlier that the Ministry would consider reviewing laws on the sale of alcoholic beverages in view of the increasing road accident cases involving drunk drivers.

Chan said drunk driving has been a long-standing problem, saying the root of the problem lies with those who drink irresponsibly.

“Banning the sale of alcohol whether temporary or permanent will not address the issue but instead lead to other problems, such as black market booze and sales of fake alcohol, and more importantly, infringement of cultural rights of Sabah and Sarawak indigenous.

“The government should look at other more equitable solutions that resolve the issue of drunk driving whilst not infringing or taking away the rights of others to consume alcohol reasonably, especially in a multiracial and multicultural country like Malaysia,” he said.

Chan said Zuraida’s response on the matter contrasted with that of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan.

On May 30, Takiyuddin had said while government was firm in enforcing laws against drink driving and was pushing for heavier penalty, nevertheless it should not deny the rights of non-Muslims to drink in a responsible manner.

Chan added the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) government was ready to increase imprisonment penalty and even permanently suspending the driving licence of those who cause death due to drunk driving.



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