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Muslims serving alcohol: Ban or no ban?

“Anyone who manufactures, sells, offers to sell, displays for sale, stores, or purchases any alcoholic beverage is committing an offence and is subject to a fine of not more than RM5,000 or a jail term of not more than three years or both.”

Section 18 (2) of the Syariah Criminal Enactment of Selangor, enacted in 1995 under Barisan Nasional state rule and amended in 2003.  (Source: Keep politics out of religion, theSun, 18 Jan 2011)

“Businesses that fail to abide by the condition will be subject to a compound or the withdrawal [of] their business licence.”

Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) acting public relations officer Azfarizal Abd Rashid. Azfarizal was commenting on the MPSJ’s decision to enforce licensing guidelines disallowing establishments that serve alcohol from employing Muslims. (Source: MPSJ bars booze selling outlets from hiring Muslims, Malaysiakini, 12 Jan 2011)

“We have advised the MPSJ president to withdraw this new condition.”

State local government chairperson Ronnie Liu, saying the Selangor government had not given approval for the council to enforce the ruling. Liu said the ruling would affect the livelihood of Muslims employed at pubs, hotels, restaurants and clubs.  (Source: Rescind the ban on Muslim workers, MPSJ told, The Star, 14 Jan 2011)

“… the interpretation of the law must be done by experts, which in this case is the mufti and the state executive councillor in charge of Muslim affairs (Datuk Dr Hasan Mohamed Ali).

“The decision should not lie with a single executive councillor (state local government chair[person] Ronnie Liu) as it involves syariah.”

Selangor PAS deputy commissioner (III) Iskandar Abdul Samad, saying Selangor PAS would hold a meeting to discuss the state government’s move to withdraw the MPSJ ban. Iskandar, who is also executive councillor for housing, building and squatters, said the council’s argument in enforcing the ruling was in accordance with syariah. (Source: Do not lift ban, says Selangor PAS, New Straits Times, 15 Jan 2011)

“The state government realises that most Muslims who work in such places do so out of economic interest. Therefore the funds would ensure that they are not burdened when the law is enforced.”

Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, announcing that the state government would set up special funds for Muslims forced to resign from entertainment outlets serving alcohol. Khalid said he would meet with all mayors and local council presidents to discuss the enforcement of the syariah enactment. He said as a caring and fair government, sufficient time had to be given to all affected, including business owners and workers. (Source: Selangor to set up funds for Muslims affected by work ban, The Malaysian Insider, 14 Jan 2011)

“Jais can enforce [the rule] on individuals, not to the [business] premises. And if Jais wants to ask the local government to assist with enforcement, they can.”

Khalid, saying only Jais, and not the local authorities, could take action on Muslims working in establishments that serve alcohol. He said it was still unclear whether local authorities could incorporate syariah enactments into by-laws. He further said the MPSJ’s ruling only constituted “advice” and was not a ban. (Source: Alcohol: Jais, not MPSJ, can enforce syariah law, Malaysiakini, 17 Jan 2011)

“There is no ruling nor are there any by-laws in the state preventing Muslims from working in such places [that sell alcohol] … the idea is to reduce the number of Muslims serving alcohol and has no effect on business owners.”

“We have always supported the syariah law, but we need to carry out further study before it can be implemented.”

Khalid, declaring the decision by the MPSJ “just a guideline” and a “reminder to Muslims on the inappropriateness of working in entertainment outlets serving alcohol”. Khalid said the state was looking at how the guideline and reminder could be implemented and turned into a by-law by the local councils. “We have always supported the syariah law, but we need to carry out further study before it can be implemented,” he added. (Source: No ruling on Muslims working in outlets serving alcohol, The Star, 18 Jan 2011)

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7 Responses to “Muslims serving alcohol: Ban or no ban?”

  1. sptay says:

    The law is all encompassing. No Muslims in Guiness Anchor and Carlsberg factories. No Muslims in Malaysia Airlines (but OK in Air Asia as they don’t sell or serve alcohol). No Muslims in duty-free shops, hotels and so on.

    Be comprehensive. Don’t pick on the poor [employee] trying to earn his [or her] living. Provide him [or her] with at least six months salary and training to find an alternative way to earn a living. All this must be planned out first and funds secured. The haphazard way this is enforced raises the suspicion that someone is out to sabotage the PAS-PKR-DAP government in Selangor. Rats, rats, everywhere.

  2. Alan TAN says:

    The question really is not about keeping politics out of religion. Rather, to keep religion out of politics.

    The law has been gazetted. So, enforce it. Prosecute.

  3. Adam says:

    When a law or regulation is implemented and it causes more problems and hardship for the business community and the individuals concerned, you know that there is something not right or the implementation has not been carried out properly.

    In this case, if the law is enforced, problems would instantly arise. The businesses serving alcohol would have to retrench all the Muslim staff and start looking for replacements; foreign Muslim staff have to be sent back causing financial losses.

    The Muslim workers would also be caught in a dilemma without a job and possibly with no compensation as it is a law imposed. If they continue working, they risk being fined or even jailed. The usual Muslim clients may insist on being served, causing further problems to the business. The shops could not insist on checking the IC’s of all their clients.

    Also, the businesses could easily be “fixed” up by rivals and mischievous people by using a bit of imagination. There will be more opportunities for corruption to fester too.

    In short, there would be a whole load of problems which could and would crop up. Having said the negatives, I must admit that the intention of the Muslim authorities to prevent Muslims from alcoholic influences is, to an extent, good. But good intentions sometimes kill. Jais/Mais should use the soft approach without having to deprive a fellow human being from an honest livelihood and also from a personal choice of lifestyle.

    The scheme mooted to help those affected to find alternative “halal” source of work is commendable. Jais/Mais should send their officers to meet those affected and offer them better jobs. They could talk nicely to those drinking and persuade them to change their habits. If any refuses, he/she should be left alone. Under no circumstances should force and intimidation be used.

    That is how a great religion should act and react; with kindness and consideration; with love and compassion.

  4. What about Muslim directors in these so-called haram companies? Dr M’s son, a director in San Miguel’s Beer company, comes to mind!

  5. The BN government raised the issue of Penang giving gambling money to Muslim retirees. And someone said that the government should keep a separate haram and non-haram account for dispensing salaries/welfare funds to civil workers as well. What happened then? No replies from the BN government, who is so religious when it comes to this kind of thing?

  6. Politicokat says:

    Well now…

    Okay, if this is the game they want to play, I say go all or nothing. MAS serves alcohol. So MAS must fire all its Muslim employees, from pilots to air stewardess and even the baggage crew, or stop serving alcohol. The hotel industry, which does sell alcohol, must do the same or stop selling.

    We can also see that [those in power are unable to distinguish] between religion and state. Rather than leave the decision to one’s self, we have the state come in to implement religious decisions.

  7. Paul for Democracy says:

    It is interesting to note that the leaders of our beloved Malaysia make a lot of hoo-ha n political and religious issues “under the pretext of looking into the good of the nation – especially that of the Malay Malaysians.” Would someone kindly comment on the picture and writeup in the centre picture of page M2 of Star Metro dated Wed, 9 Feb 2011?

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