Malaysiakini Letter

DBKL is not our moral guardian

Simon Lim Seng Chai  |  Published:  |  Modified:

The Kuala Lumpur City Hall's (DBKL) decision to deny organisers a permit to hold the Better Beer Festival 2017 may lead to state encroachment into more areas of personal life.

It is a slippery slope when "political sensitivities" are cited for banning perfectly legal activities. In fact, this would have been the sixth year the event is held, had DBKL not denied the permit.

By pulling the plug on the event, there are fears that DBKL and other government agencies may extend the same fervour into other areas, such as licensing for eateries in malls or dress codes in public areas.

But even without descending into such extremes, DBKL's decision on the beer festival only deepens the yawning divide among the different communities in Malaysia. The decision enhances the perception that the values of one community are superior to the rest.

This does not augur well for a plural society where the Federal Constitution guarantees the rights of all. 

Moderation, which Centre for A Better Tomorrow (CENBET) promotes, is built on mutual respect and understanding. But when state intervention results in some communities feeling aggrieved and others triumphant, society becomes more divided and extremism starts to grow.

In this respect, we call on the DBKL to rescind its decision and grant the permit for the event to go on, so long as it fulfils all legal conditions. The DBKL is not set up as a moral guardian.

It must remember that its area of jurisdiction, Kuala Lumpur, is a cosmopolitan city consisting of not just locals of different races but a sizable expatriate community and tourists, who come from diverse backgrounds.

Once political parties and civil authorities start acting like moral police, Malaysia will be poorer.

Diversity and tolerance are our strengths. Do not let narrow-mindedness and intolerance destroy that. 

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