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PAS and the alcohol ban

(lusi /
PAS‘s move to implement a blanket ban on the sale of alcohol in all Muslim-majority areas in Selangor has now given us an opportunity to draw up guidelines on alcohol sale. While their call for a ban might seem drastic, it must not be viewed from a moralistic or from only an Islamic perspective. This call for a ban is an opportunity for us to recognise the problems associated with alcohol abuse, which is acknowledged by all the world’s major religions.

There are major social and health-related problems associated with alcohol abuse among the natives of Sabah and Sarawak, among the Orang Asli and sections of the Indian Malaysian community in Peninsular Malaysia. There are so many silent sufferers, especially women and children, who are victims of alcoholics and other behavioural problems arising from alcohol consumption.

The Consumers Association of Penang has undertaken many studies on this matter and proven that there is a social-impact dimension involved as well. Hence, while PAS was speaking for the Muslim community, many of the social issues and abuses are among non-Muslim communities.

(vivekchugh /
Society has already accepted that certain types of human behaviour can affect oneself and others. In the case of smoking, the Health Ministry and other authorities have undertaken many measures to restrict where one can smoke in public places, and on cigarette company sponsorship and advertisement. These initiatives are done in the interest of the common good.

A total ban of alcohol has not been effective in the past. Nonetheless, there is still an urgent need for Malaysian society to discuss further the issues arising from the negative and abusive aspects of unrestricted sale and availability of alcohol.

Currently there are already some forms of restrictions on alcohol. For example, one cannot drink and drive; alcohol can only be sold in licensed shops; alcohol cannot be sold to underaged individuals; and there are restricted hours for places which sell and serve alcohol. There are laws to curtail the production and sale of illegal and unlicensed alcoholic products as well.

The problems we face have often been associated with weak enforcement by the local authorities. There must be some public outcry on this matter because of the negative impact of alcohol abuse.

Some restrictions on the places and locations where alcohol is sold are necessary. For example, not permitting the sale of alcohol in or near residential areas and schools might be necessary. This will include all kinds of residential areas.

(Matchstick /
Designated places where the sale and consumption of alcohol can take place should also be regulated by the local authority. For example, it might be healthy not consuming alcohol in a public park or even during a football game.

While this proposal is being advocated by PAS, my interest is as a sociologist from a social work background. I am a Christian by conviction and belief. Therefore, let us not discuss social issues and concerns from a perspective that divides us. Let’s find alliances and collaborations across religions.

Public education

Alcohol producers, promoters and retailers have not embarked on public education on the potential of alcohol addiction. The government has not done enough to address the resultant abusive behaviour and health-related problems. Currently, there are no counselling programmes and if there are any, they would be inadequate. There are also no rehabilitation services like for drug addiction.

I strongly advocate that alcohol producers and the related industry pay a levy from their annual sales for public education on alcohol abuse and addiction. They should also take greater responsibility for the rehabilitation of alcoholics. Some systematic intervention programmes are necessary to assist women and children who face abuse and violence. Federal and state agencies must address these concerns.

Maybe the Selangor government could take the lead in providing the guidelines necessary for healthy living and ensure that all responsible will put human lives before profits.

Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria is principle research fellow at the Institute of Ethnic Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Views expressed in this article are his own.

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16 Responses to “PAS and the alcohol ban”

  1. Foo BK says:

    Please don’t try to be an angel to try to tell people what to do and what not to do. We are educated people and we know the do’s and don’ts but you cannot deny there are a small group of people who abuse the usage of alcohol.

    Please look at the bigger picture. Put priority into mat rempit, rape, corruption as these cause more harm than alcohol. Just because you don’t drink you cannot expect others to follow suit. [If] I don’t like to eat beef, please ban it because it causes serious allergy in me? Please wake up and do something more useful.

  2. hazey says:

    If all people are smart like you then the law is unnecessary, and no one needs to advise others what to do and not to do. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. So, that’s why we still need people like this Dr Denison.

    Look at the bigger picture? Yes, you are right. But that is always the response when someone wants to do something about some issue. There will always be someone else saying, “Hey, this is small issue, you should tackle other bigger issues”. Please understand that not everything can be fought at the same time by the same people.

    For this time, given the right public emotion and the opportunity for political advantage, PAS fights against alcohol.

    But PAS is not the only group in this country. If other groups feel that the issue of corruption is neglected, then that group should fight for it.

    If everybody plays their part instead of asking others to do so, then all the problems can be solved.

    About that analogy of your beef: If you are the only one having problems with beef, then banning the beef is not right. But if you are the only one who is not having problem with beef, and all the people around you are all sick because of beef, then, not banning the beef is wrong and undemocratic.

  3. Ken Rogers says:

    There should be strict laws preventing the sale of alcohol to those who obviously have already consumed too much alcohol.

    Alcohol addiction as with illegal drugs is a serious problem and needs addressing. The cost of this addiction to the Health Services is enormous. Plus, can create criminal behaviour.

  4. Remie says:

    It is all very nice to draw our compassion to the plight of family members of alcohol abusers. A very typical attack by anti-alcohol lobbyists. Drawing in religion as an additional armour is also very typical of these types.

    The bottom line is that alcohol in moderation is good for our health. Thus, imposing a blanket ban on its use and responsible consumption is just not on.

    Using the same argument, we should ban firearms – it kills people, ban computers online – porn, ban red meats – cholesterol and heart attacks, etc.

    The most blatant argument is to add religion in the mix. […] Read [the] Gospels more throughly. Jesus very much endorses wine consumption throughout his ministry. The first miracle recorded involves the conversion of water to wine to satisfy the needs of a wedding party. He used wine as a symbol of His own blood, to be poured out for man’s redemption. He regularly consumes wine with His followers, including the Last Supper.

    So, please do not condemn alcohol being consumed responsibly!

    If you are anything of a crusader, education is the key not prohibition. So, go about educating about abuse, NOT responsible healthy drinking of alcohol, wine in particular.

  5. narayan says:

    In London and Sydney, we have restriction on sale of liqour to youngsters below the age of 18, before and after games football etc, location etc. It is not on a guideline of religion etc. but more on substance abuse and permissible age. Why not become mature [and] for once deal with things in that manner instead of bringing in “I am a Muslim, you a Christian” etc?

  6. Tuagoo says:

    Why only restrict to Selangor? Let’s look at the bigger picture; Malaysia is a Muslim majority country, therefore following the PAS reasoning no alcohol should be sold in Malaysia.

    Frankly, why [did] MBSA only go for the 7-eleven outlet? All emporiums, supermarkets and hypermarkets sell liquor and beer. All airports, seaports and land exit points have duty free liquor shops. Most sundry shops and mini markets sell beer. Most coffee shops sell beer. Most restaurants sell beer and liquor. All entertainment outlets sell beer and liquor.

    This observation is true even in states like Kelantan, Kedah, Perlis and Terengganu. Why were the PAS leaders silent all these years? These licensed outlets pay millions of ringgit in liquor and beer house license to the State coffers, (not Federal as license fees are state revenue) yearly and this money was happily being used by the state govt without any qualms. Suddenly in Selangor it became such a big issue. One wonders why.

  7. abubaker says:

    You cannot close a bank to prevent bank robbery. Similarly, you cannot prevent Muslims from consuming alcohol by putting a ban on it.

    Can you say that in order to prevent rape cases you have to kill all the women in Muslim majority areas?

  8. Syed Muhammad says:

    I like this writing – well done Dr Denison. I can feel you are sensitive with religion and tolerate cultural differences.

    I disagree with Hassan Ali’s call to ban all alcohol – only with one reason; moral issues should not be dealt politically. Banning won’t stop the problem but should be dealt differently. We have to make people agree alcohol is just as bad as drugs etc. Basically I am in agreement with abubaker.

    But I am not supporting R Liu either. I would prefer to see R Liu make one simple statement about Hassan’s move rather than make havoc out of it. To be honest, what R Liu is fighting for in this alcohol issue, I still cannot understand. I can understand Hassan fight because he is Muslim – alcohol is a no-no in Islam.

    But for R Liu, is alcohol mandatory for him ?

  9. Farouq Omaro says:

    It is every man’s right to drink beer. Please do not confuse beer drinking with liquor drinking. One cannot get drunk by drinking four cans of beer, maybe for first timers, just a little heavy in the head. What’s important is responsible drinking! If Muslims do not want to drink beer, then don’t buy it, or don’t frequent shops that sell it! First you ban beer, then you ban pork and ham, next you might ban church and temple bells. And before you know it, non-Muslims might have to build huge walls around their places of worship as not to offend Muslims! Stop Talibanisation NOW! And stop speaking up for the fanatics for God’s sake.

  10. In the year 988 CE, Prince Vladimir, sovereign leader of Kievan Russia, opted for Orthodox Christianity as his state religion. Legend says his ambassadors were much more impressed with the gold and grandeur of Byzantine’s cathedrals, especially Constantinople’s Church of Santa Sophia (now Istanbul’s Mosque of Hagia Sofia) than they were with the simple and austere décor of the Islamic houses of worship (i.e. the mosques) in nearby Volga Bulgaria. But another, more telling reason for the Russian Prince’s favoring Christianity over Islam was, so the chroniclers tell us, the Russians’ love of alcohol. The Muslims’ absolute abstention from liquor was a sacrifice too far for Vladimir’s countrymen to make. Alas, it would appear that their insatiable thirst for a “good” drink, particularly vodka, has plagued the Russian nation ever since.

    According to a report published in the year 2000, a staggering two thirds of Russian men die drunk and more than half of that number die in extreme stages of alcoholic intoxication. At 57.4 years, Russian men have the lowest life expectancy in Europe. Although heart disease, accidents and suicides account for nearly 75% of male deaths, they are seldom sober when they die. Wrote the daily Kommersant newspaper in commentary of a three-year study of men aged between 20 and 55 in Moscow and Udmurita:

    “Everyone is drunk: murderers and their victims, drowning victims, suicides, drivers and pedestrians killed in traffic accidents, victims of heart attacks and ulcers.”

    Read the complete article at:

  11. Assalamu’alaikum (May peace and blessings of God be upon you)

    Alhamdulillah (all praise to Allah the only one God). I’m so thankful to God to read your positive comment regarding this alcohol issue.

    The consequences of alcohol are indeed bad. Something needs to be done to overcome this problem. And yes! It has to be done wisely, not by emotional thinking. Let us reason together and find the solution for this issue

  12. PendekarTua says:

    As [far as] I know, the Bible also [prohibits] consuming alcohol […]. May God bless you and grant you with hidayah.

  13. TPHC? says:

    This matter is being over-complicated.

    At the end of a particularly hard day or week, I like have a nice cold pint or four of Kilkenny and some mutton pratel at my favourite pub.

    Or buy a six pack from the closest Shah Alam 7-11 and kick back to some Ramones.

    I voted PAS and PKR because I was getting tired of BN’s rhetoric and arrogance. However, I (personally) never had any problems during their governance in Shah Alam.

    PAS has proven to be the Taliban-in-waiting, banning, protesting and rioting at concerts. PKR has proven to be an enigma. Other than Eli Wong’s good work, I have no idea what the bejesus the rest of them are trying to accomplish.

    So, you’ve had your chance, next GE, I’m voting you lot out.

    Come back Toyo. We miss you.

  14. Azizi Khan says:

    People, you have to understand why a lot of these bans arise in order to see the “religious banning” culture in Malaysia.

    PAS and Umno religious bodies are really very weak-willed.

    – if they see a school girl not wearing tudung, they get aroused.
    – if they walk past Hard Rock Cafe in KL, they feel they should stop for a beer.
    – Cigarettes? Enough said.
    – One wife? Go for four, man. Golok is always there. […] Again, an inherent weakness to go skirt-chasing when you’re married.
    – Food businesses are closed during Ramadan so Muslims won’t be tempted into eating!

    And so on and so forth.

    So what would happen if 7-11s in Shah Alam sell beer? Never mind Malay [Malaysian] youngsters, every Pak Haji would be cracking open a six pack after Ishak! You think they have the will to refrain? There is no such thing as will, right?

    After all if Malay Muslims understood that it is their religion and it’s their willpower to safeguard their faith, they wouldn’t be running around implementing bans.

    So next time PAS or Umno religious bodies impose bans like these, non-Muslims just have to understand one simple fact – being a Muslim in Malaysia means having no willpower to face life’s temptations.

    I guess we just have to give them our sympathies. And next time Jais or PAS does a raid in your neighbourhood – hide your beer stash.

    PS: This comment was written with satire in mind. If you are a Malaysian Muslim and you feel offended by it – suck it up cupcake, that’s life.

  15. lee renzo says:

    Assalamualaikum dan Salam 1 Malaysia..

    Dear all..

    Jangan kerana nyamuk seekor, kelambu dibakar..
    Jangan kerana anda tidak makan daging lembu, diharamkan ternakan lembu dan hasil jualannya..

    Apa perbezaan makan daging lembu dengan minum arak?
    Apa persamaan makan daging lembu dengan minum arak?

    Teruskan membaca..

    Jika anda allergi makan daging lembu..
    Hentikan pengambilannya..
    Jika anda allergi minum arak..
    Hentikan pengambilannya..
    Ini adalah persamaan..

    Mari tengok perbezaannya..

    1 Malaysia..
    1 Soalan..

    Individu yg memakan daging lembu lebih dose dan individu minum arak lebih dose, yang mana lebih membahayakan keselamatan orang lain?

    Come on guys??

    Answer this question!!!

    Jangan tunggu sampai orang yang anda sayang mati dilanggar oleh orang mabuk baru anda buka mata..

    Buka Holly Bible, Buka Quran..
    Anda akan jumpa persamaan..

    – Quran 5:90;
    – Proverbs 20:1;
    – Ephesians 5:18

    May God Bless Us.. Ameen..

  16. Liland says:

    Salam and shalom.

    Congratulation Dr Denison. Not because you are supporting Muslims, but because you are supporting the idea of truth. It is actually logical, to have this banning enforced. Of course it [will] bring more benefits that harm. All of us admit it. There’s no harm, I guess, if PAS banned it.

    [Have] empathy: I have known many individuals [who] have been tortured emotionally and physically by alcoholics. And please do not deny these facts. 68% presents this behaviour. Just place yourself in the community. Less fortunate community members. While the unfortunate ones cried happily for this, some argued.

    As some said, put priority into this and that, at least it is better to do something than doing nothing. Mat rempit have already been taken care of by our federal [government], still nothing happens. I really mean nothing. It [is] not consistent.

    And then, when PAS did something against our emotions and passions, we snapped back? What do we do? I do not know, it is better for me to support than to complain [about] things that [are] logical to accept. At least I’m not deceiving myself that alcohol brings more harm than benefit. Applied vice-versa to the banning.

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