By Emma Victoria
SARAWAK Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing has doubts about PAS’ sincerity in wanting to suspend the sales of alcohol to prevent drunk driving.
The Parti Rakyat Sarawak president said PAS’ suggestion looks honourable at a glance and that he appreciated their concern for the safety of the people, the Borneo Post reported.
“But, (I doubt about their concern) when they wanted to revoke all sales licences of alcohol beverages in conveniences stores. It infringes on the rights of people of different beliefs and their right to trade on items which don’t encroach on their religious tenets and beliefs,” he said in a statement.
Masing said PAS must not impose their religious prohibitions on alcohol to those of other religions who have no prohibitions on alcohol.
“Nor should PAS disguise their motives by using other excuses. Malaysia is a multi-religious nation and we must keep it that way,” Masing added.
Meanwhile, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said resolving the problem of drunk driving required a combination of proper education, incentives, social messaging, and engagement besides stiffer punishments.
“PAS’ call on the government to suspend production and sales of alcohol to resolve drunk driving is not only absurd, but also defies common logic.
“Based on the same logic, we may as well ban cars since they are the main cause of road accidents.
“Does it also mean we should stop selling motorcycles because of Mat Rempits, bicycles because of basikal lajak, cigarettes until we cure cancer, sugar until we can control diabetes, suspend marriage until we can deal with divorce, among others.
“While it may defy logic, but their calls must not be taken lightly as they are part of the Federal Government and form the biggest bloc under Muafakat Nasional,” he said.
Under the previous Pakatan Harapan government, the former Transport Minister Anthony Loke has proposed that fine for dangerous driving under the influence of alcohol to increase to RM100,000 under the Road Transport Act and an increase in the jail sentence for such offenders to a maximum of 20 instead of the current 10 years.
Although this was agreed by the Cabinet and the former minister (Loke) was schedule to present the amendments to Parliament in the first quarter of the year, the current Perikatan Nasional government has not shown urgency in addressing the issue and even avoided Parliament all together, he said.
Dr Yii also said laws concerning dangerous driving under the influence of alcohol, or any other type of substance, ought to be strengthened and greater empowerment given for enforcement purposes, but banning it outright is not a comprehensive approach to the matter.
“It is missing the forest from the trees or administering the wrong treatment for the disease. Greater emphasis ought to be given towards educating the public on the dangers of drunk driving and alcohol abuse in general to avoid more incidents of alcohol-related accidents on the road.
“All this can be done without infringing the rights of others. This issue must be dealt with holistically and should be be tainted through any divisive racial or even religious sentiments,” he added.
The Malaysia-Singapore Coffee Shop Proprietors’ General Association said stricter law enforcement was needed to curb drunk driving.
Its president Ho Su Mong, said the problem was less severe in neighbouring countries due to stricter enforcement there, FMT reported.