Call on the PAS Terengganu State Government to drop the ban on drinking alcohol in public

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): DAP calls on the PAS Terengganu State Government to drop the ban on drinking alcohol in public.  Towards this end, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Kerk Kim Hock had discussed this question with the Terengganu Mentri Besar, Haji Hadi Awang in Parliament yesterday.

Any move to impose a total ban on drinking of alcohol in public places, including coffeeshops where non-Muslims have been  allowed up to now, would be regarded as the first step to change the ways of life  of non-Muslims and insensitive to their  feelings.

It would be most detrimental to efforts by the Barisan Alternative  to secure greater popular support to bring about political and economic reforms, restore democracy, human rights,  the just  rule of law and a truly  independent  judiciary in the pursuit of the Barisan Alternative goal of “A Just Malaysia” which can  unite Malaysians regardless of race, religion or political beliefs.

On 15th December 1999, at the meeting between DAP leaders and the Terengganu State Government, Hadi had given an assurance that the Terengganu state government would fully respect the rights and sensitivities of non-Muslims and that there would be the  fullest public consultation and that there would no imposition against the wishes of non-Muslims on matters which could  be perceived as affecting the rights and sensitivities of other races and religions.

In keeping with this assurance, the Terengganu state government should initiate the fullest consultation not only with the non-Muslims in the state but also with the other Barisan Alternative parties on the question of a total ban on the drinking of alcohol in public places.

Malaysia is a multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-cultural nation and all the Barisan Alternative component parties must be more responsive to the sensitivities of all races, religions, languages and cultures in the country than the Barisan Nasional parties.

In the 21st century, there is need for greater and not lesser sensitivities in a multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-cultural Malaysia.

An example of the lack of such sensitivity is the talk to be held at the International Islamic University at the Malik Faisal Hall, UIA Matriculation Centre, Section 16, Petaling Jaya on Friday, 13th April 2001 at 8 p.m. by Abdal Hakam Murad on “Was Jesus Muslim?”.  The insensitivity is compounded by the talk being held on Good Friday.

Muslims would regard any public talk in Malaysia on “Was Prophet Mohamad Christian” as most insensitive and I would agree with them.

Another example of such insensitivity is the decision by the Selangor Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Dr. Mohamad Khir Toyo on December 20 last year to withdraw the Selangor State Government’s approval for the construction of the Shah Alam Catholic Church at the site near Montfort’s Boys Town.

The Selangor State Government’s decision had been most insensitive to the legitimate aspirations and constitutional right  of the Catholic community in Shah Alam who had been waiting for more than 10 years for their own place of worship.

An application to build the Catholic Church in Shah Alam was first made in 1977 when the Mentri Besar was Datuk Hormat Rafei.

Numerous decisions offering various lots of land in Shah Alam were made, culminating in the offer of 0.42 ha Lot 1204 in Jalan U1/79 opposite Montfort Boys Town.  The Shah Alam Catcholic Church Building Committee obtained all the necessary approvals, carried out preliminary works, opened tenders and incurred expenses amounting to RM53,782.

It is most unreasonable and insensitive for the Selangor Mentri Besar to revoke the approval on Dec. 20 last year, offering an alternative site in U1/13A about 2 km away which the building committee found unacceptable.

DAP calls on the Selangor State Exco to fully respect Malaysia’s plural society and be sensitive to the rights of non-Muslims to their places of worship and to restore  the status quo to allow the construction of the  Shah Alam Catholic Church Building near Montfort Boys Town to proceed without any more obstacles.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman