Closing down alcohol industry means chipping away at Dayak culture

Darwin Boy Sxander / Flickr

By Emma Victoria

PAS has been told to consider public opinions and culture of other races and religions before suggesting Malaysia get rid of the alcohol industry.

DAP Kuching Branch Publicity Secretary Bernard Chin Wui Shin said Malaysia is a diverse country containing many different ethnicity, culture and religions.

“In fact, in Sarawak, as part of the culture, alcoholic drinks commonly known as tuak (rice wine) is reserved exclusively for the special festivity or served to guests at a longhouse as a welcome drink among the Dayak community. Ceasing the alcohol industry would mean taking away the uniqueness of a culture,” he said.

Pas Pasir Mas MP Ahmad Fadhli Shaari said that he hopes that one day there will be no more alcohol industry in Malaysia during a Parliamentary debate that alcohol industry in the country should cease to exist.

Chin said although alcohol is considered haram by the Muslims, even United Arab Emirates (UAE) being an Islamic country, dominates other countries with per capita alcohol consumption of 3.8 litres (1 gallon) per person per year.

Apart from that, Malaysia has the 10th largest population of alcohol users worldwide, with an annual spending of RM2 billion on alcoholic drinks. Alcohol industry has been generating a huge amount of profit for the nation in tax revenue, he said in a statement.

In 2019, the brewery industry brought in some RM2.27 billion in tax revenue to the public coffers. Chin also claimed that Heineken and Carlsberg employ more than 61,000 people directly and indirectly with annual salaries in excess of RM752 million, while total trade partners number around 35,000, including supermarkets, convenience stores, coffee shops, restaurants, pubs and hotels.

“Ceasing the alcohol industry will not only reduce the profits generated for the nation but also cause job losses which is undesirable and should be taken into consideration.

“Additionally, alcohol industry is also heavily invested foreign investors. Ceasing alcohol industry would also mean prevention of foreign investors to invest in Malaysia,” he said.

“I hope that more factors can be considered when it comes to lawmaking, not coming from personal or religion perspectives only,” he added.

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