Malaysiakini Letter

PAS policy on liquor is progressive

Abdul Rahman Abdul Talib, PAS PJ Utara  |  Published:  |  Modified:

I would like to respond to LCH's letter entitled ' Policies from the PAS(t) '. Contrary to popular belief, intoxication is as old as the earth itself. In fact, the great philosopher Socrates died of intoxication.

In the history of Islam, the Prophet came into the Arab society that regarded drinking as their main culture. They wrote countless number of poetry praising the drinking of liquor, not to mention hangovers. The Prophet stopped drinking altogether. As a result for 1,400 years, not a single drop of liqour can be found in the land of Mecca and Madinah.

Thus curbing intoxication is not a step backward but actually a step forward. Although, in Islam the ban of intoxication does not apply to non-Muslims.

Coming back to our time and age, a recent article published in The Telegraph entitled ' Alcoholism spiralling out of control ' shows that alcoholism has begun to put a heavy burden on the British's NHS (national health system) and the economy in general (not to mention the social cost attributed to intoxication).

The article quotes a Liberal Democrat's source as stating that alcoholism is costing the NHS about 65 million pound a year. The article further quotes government statistics stating that "in 2002-03, 151,086 'bed days' were taken up in NHS hospitals by people with alcohol-related problems."

The article further adds, "In 1996-97 the average length of stay in hospital for a patient with alcoholic liver disease was 12.7 days. By 2002-03, this was 14.1 days. Six years ago, hospital consultants gave 10,903 treatments for alcohol-related liver diseases compared with 19,130 in 2002-03. A government report in September estimated that 17 million working days were lost to hangovers and the cost of treating alcohol-related injury and illness was 1.7 billion."

So who actually benefits from intoxication? Certainly not the public, the medical health system or the government. It only benefits liquor producing companies at the expense of others, economically or socially.

How can one appreciates LCH's concern for the well-being of small businesses when the potential burden to be borne by society is huge as the example above shows how a burden intoxication is on the British society.

LCH's argument is lopsided considering his premise does not take into account the total cost that society has to bear due to its tolerance of intoxication.

Also, LCH's letter further emphasise my earlier letter to malaysiakini that the main objection to PAS is mainly due to PAS' perceived stringent policies on vice. This is added by a prevalent warped perception that tolerance to intoxication is akin to having a progressive outlook on life.

LCH also states that small businesses will suffer while big supermarkets and shops actually gain from PAS' policy. I wonder how LCH's logic can be applied to Kuala Terengganu considering that the ban for selling liqour also applies to big supermarkets and minimarts there. Liqour is only allowed to be sold in licenced outlets, which are either bars or karaoke in Kuala Terengganu.

I feel I should not even touch on the social cost due to intoxication, i.e. breakup in marriages, child abuse, etc, as everyone in the public is well aware of the social cost. I fail to see how being stringent on drinking can be viewed as a step backward when all evidence prove otherwise.

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