By Mariam Mokhtar
Is the suggestion about banning the production and sale of alcohol, another of PAS’ knee-jerk reactions, or is it a carefully choreographed attempt to introduce syariah law by the back door?
Are we finally seeing the true colours of PAS?
A religious fool is more dangerous than an ignorant fool; so when PAS’ information chief Kamaruzaman Mohamad suggested a ban on alcohol sales until the issue of drink driving was resolved, many of us wonder what they will decide to ban next.
Thirty years ago, they banned cinemas in Kelantan to stop “social ills” in the darkened room, but this has not stopped enterprising and determined couples from meeting on the beaches, in bushes and in the back seats of cars for a bit of fun.
An alcohol ban will drive the trade underground, a bit like the multi-million ringgit trade in smuggled cigarettes, and deprive the Treasury of several billion ringgits in tax revenue. More alcohol was drunk during the prohibition, than before, and Al Capone gained vast wealth.
An alcohol ban will prompt vigilante squads to emulate the infamous Manjoi incident in Ipoh, when a group of people demanded the removal of alcoholic beverages from the shelves of a grocery store. Mentri Besar Ahmad Faizal Azumu failed to punish these bullies, and he did not restore the confidence of the shopkeepers in Perak, who feared similar attacks.
There are more important things than banning alcohol. So, does PAS have a different set of principles than the rest of the country?
The alcohol ban is nothing more than PAS dipping their toes in the water. They want to gauge our reaction, before they fully introduce syariah laws.
Bad drivers who kill, are not necessarily drunk. Some are on drugs, and others have been distracted when using a mobile phone.
What are the statistics for drink-and-drive-related accidents? How many drivers are there in Malaysia and of these, how many are kopi-o licence holders, with no knowledge of the highway code or how to be responsible drivers? What is this figure, per capita of the population? How many drink-drive related accidents have caused deaths?
How many successful convictions have there been for drink-driving related deaths? Has the number of incidents increased or decreased?
Since February, there were at least five reported cases of accidents caused by drink-driving. In one, a car rammed into a Movement Control Order (MCO) roadblock and killed a policeman. A few days ago, in Kuantan, a man on his way to work, was killed in an accident with a drunk driver.
In some of these reports, the police said that they “believed” the man who caused the crash had been drunk. Aren’t roadside breathalyser tests made? Aren’t blood and urine samples taken at a hospital for traces of alcohol or drugs? Is this sloppy reporting or sloppy policing, where the word “believe” is used to introduce an element of culpability, or to influence public opinion.
Have there been more drink-driving accidents during the movement control order (MCO)? Are people consuming more drinks, during the lockdown, to relieve their boredom, or because they are drinking on their own?
Perhaps the government is focusing on accidents that are caused by drunks to appease PAS?
We have enough laws in this country. Our problem is that the laws are not properly enforced. More can be done. Health warnings should accompany alcohol advertisements. Pubs and restaurants should liaise with taxi companies to offer discounted rides to customers who are over the limit.
PAS needs to curb its knee-jerk tendencies. Will it propose a ban on lorries, because road hauliers overload their vehicles and turn a blind eye to drivers who have been charged with traffic violations, speeding and driving under the influence of drugs? More deaths are caused by speeding lorries, lorries with dodgy brakes, lorries with lights that do not work, or lorry drivers who weave in and out of traffic and are a menace to other road users.
Perhaps, PAS should punish the officers of the Road Transport Department (RTD) for encouraging the breaking of the law, by accepting bribes for lorries which fail the various RTD tests?
PAS politicians are quick to point the blame at others. In 2014, Nik Abduh Nik Aziz (above) blamed Thailand for the high rates of HIV/AIDs infections in Kelantan, because cheap sex and drugs were easily available across the border.
Why can’t the PAS administration of Kelantan educate its menfolk? Should every male who comes of age be castrated to prevent him from impregnating young girls? Should a girl who reaches puberty, be forced to wear a chastity belt, to stop the high incidence of teenage pregnancies? Education, especially sex education, is not a priority for PAS policymakers.
If women were in charge of Kelantan (and Putrajaya), the nation would be free of oppression, teem with activity and thrive from increased trade.
This piece first appeared in Malaysiakini. The views here do not necessarily represent those of this portal.