MIRI: Many people here are up in arms against Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) suggestion to ban production and sale of alcoholic drinks to prevent drunk driving and road accidents in the country.
A spokesman of Association of Bistros, Cafes, Pubs and Karaokes Miri (ABCOM), Captain Kenneth Khoo said the ban was not the ultimate solution to the problem as social drinking within limit has its own purpose, provided one’s religion does not prohibit it.
“As an outlet owner serving alcohol, we are well aware of the effects of driving under the influence of alcohol. However, banning the production and sale of the items, as suggested by PAS, is not the ultimate solution.
“Social drinking within limits has its purpose and that is why we always hear the phrase ‘drink responsibly’.
“Therefore, we should look at pro-active ways of minimising the risk of someone driving while under the heavy influence of alcohol,” he said.
Khoo was asked to comment on media reports on Tuesday quoting PAS Information chief Kamaruzaman Mohamad calling on the government to immediately suspend all production, businesses, and sales of alcoholic beverages as a new measure to prevent drunk driving.
Kamaruzaman said the party viewed seriously the fatal accident cases involving drunk drivers that has become so rampant lately. During the suspension period, the government should also set up a special cabinet committee involving several ministries to take immediate action to resolve the cases
Khoo said ABCOM members had the social responsibility towards their clients, adding that besides putting posters on drinking responsibly they have other initiatives like ‘Don’t Drink and Drive’ posters in outlets, ensuring that staff are trained to identify guests who may have exceeded their tolerance limit and for outlet management to have contact details of ‘designated drivers’ for situations where they may not be able to drive themselves home.
He said during the Covid-19 pandemic they also abide by the standard operating procedures (SOP) including social distancing.
Vice president of Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB), Bruce Chai and Consumers Association of Miri (CAM) president, George Bennett Francis, too concurred with Khoo.
“PAS is using drunk driving accident, the sale and trading of alcoholic drink, a disguise which we can’t ignore from a multi-racial, multi religious, and multi ethnic Malaysia, especially in Sarawak.
“I liken PAS’ analogy that there are so many accidents on the road that maybe Malaysia should ban the sales of cars, does not make sense, and of course not, it looks ridiculous,” Chai said
Instead, Chai said PAS should see, study or implement policies that discourage drinking and driving under the influence of alcohol, which is the core problem, not alcohol.
“PAS suggestion is very obvious a disguise for something greater – religious belief – and we cannot, no matter what religions we have we cannot impose it on other people.
“We are a multi-racial community and the alcohol issue is politics we don’t want in Sarawak. Unfortunately, the Sarawak government is working hands and toes with PAS and I hope we continue to stand our ground to protect the multi-racial and multi-ethnic tolerance that we have here in Sarawak,” Chai said.
George also emphasised that the government cannot ban the sale and consumption of alcohol beverages in a multi-racial, multi-religious Malaysia.
“If drunk driving is caused by sale of alcohol, the government can pass a bylaw on drinking alcohol besides sale of alcoholic beverages.
“But first, the government must make a study to frame the liquor law. Like during Gawai, tuak is part and parcel of the festival. We can provide suggestive evidence that alcohol prohibition law is effective in certain states of Malaysia,” said George.