Lim Hong Siang, Executive Director of socio-cultural and religious studies research center Saudara, in Malaysiakini (October 23, 2021)
Summary by Made Ayu Mariska (Photo credit: Jeremy Eades)
Although the issue of alcohol has been around for a long time, the decision by the leaders of the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS, or Malaysian Islamic Party) to harp on the subject before joining the ruling coalition worsened the political climate. PAS took a rather extreme stance, demanding that alcohol be banned, regardless of the fact that the country is a multiracial and multireligious society with different perceptions of the drink they call the "devil's urine".
They must be prepared to take responsibility for their statements and behavior. Either they keep their promises or admit their mistake, apologize and call for everyone to move forward.
Since the 2008 political tsunami (when the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition suffered its worst general elections till then), "Malay grievances" have been touted in an atmosphere of racist and narrow religious politics. Malays are upset with the "Chinese uprising", worried because "Islam is threatened", and afraid that one day "the earth will be trampled on by others". This anxiety was successfully triggered, even though the national machinery was controlled almost entirely by Muslim Malays.
As citizens, non-Muslim Malays pay taxes, keep their money in homeland banks, and defend their country as Malaysians. But when there is a political power struggle, their rights are at stake without a shred of sensitivity to their sentiments.
Every day, Malaysians are plagued by crime and various social problems that demand policy changes so that the people are protected. It seems, however, that some people are more invested in discussing an alcohol ban than in dealing with the real problems in society.