Malaysiakini Letter

Segregating alcohol and tobacco sales costs jobs and ethnic harmony

Heng Seai Kie
Published:  |  Modified:

The suggestion by Parti Amanah Negara’s Kota Raja MP Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud that separate convenience stores should be set up to sell alcohol and tobacco in order to prevent Muslims from being in contact with those items (Malay Mail Online, Nov 9, 2016) is totally impractical, nonsensical and seeks to coerce personal religious values into the public domain.

This suggestion is identical to PAS’ demands which for years have clamoured that sale of alcohol be prohibited, or that Muslims be prevented from serving alcohol. Dr Siti Mariah’s proposal indicates that there simply is no difference between Amanah and PAS whereby Amanah is nothing more than old wine in a new bottle (pardon the pun, as the pun is purely coincidental and not intended).

She is completely ignorant that many Muslim jobs will be at stake should her proposal to set up separate convenience stores, be they the cashiers, cleaners, packers, goods loaders or transport drivers.

Dr Siti Mariah’s proposal is also class-centric. Why target convenience stores and not shopping outlets at our international and domestic airports which retail duty-free cigarettes and alcohol and are owned by bumiputeras?

Likewise, many Muslim flight attendants from not only Malaysian-registered airlines but international airlines too will be out of a job if they are to be forbidden from selling or serving duty free alcohol on board. Or will Amanah propose the simple method of denying these flights entry into Malaysian airspace?

What about our breweries and factories? Why not Amanah target those, too?

Given her abomination against alcohol, why doesn’t Dr Siti Mariah target perfume retailers which contain traces of alcohol or pharmaceutical products like alcohol swabs which are needed for disinfection?

Even worse, the proposal to have separate convenience stores is akin to the racist ‘Whites only vs Coloured’ restrooms, entrances or restaurants or public libraries and parks as practised in the south of America up till the late 1960s or when South Africa still practised its apartheid policy.

Considering that the Movida bar in Puchong had been targeted by IS terrorists when an explosive device detonated there, Dr Siti Mariah’s recommendation to segregate convenience stores will hinge on religious lines and thus render non-Muslim retail outlets to be sitting targets for assaults by IS.

Although MPs are given the right of ‘immunity’ to freely speak out in the Dewan Rakyat, Wanita MCA hopes that all our wakil rakyats will think properly and rationally before they speak. Please refrain from issuing any ‘new ideas’ which are laughable and will jeopardise Malaysia’s image globally.

HENG SEAI KIE is Wanita MCA chairperson and adviser on National Unity & Integration in the Prime Minister’s Department.

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