Uphold Moderation to Prevent Whisky Debate from Degenerating into Racial and Religious Bigotry

There seems to be much ado over a non-issue. Is it about a Malaysian company producing alcoholic beverages? No, besides Timah, there are many other alcohol brands produced in Malaysia.

Is it because the whisky is called Timah, which is Malay for tin? Is it because the product carries the image of Captain Speedy, a well-known Englishman during the Victorian era whom played a big role in Malaysia’s tin mining history?

Or is it because Timah won global accolades last year, and as a Muslim-majority country, we cannot be seen to excel in the alcohol industry?

We have long taken pride in having a multicultural society with diverse religious beliefs, living side-by-side in harmony. A majority of Malaysians have long espoused the values of moderation. The Muslims respect the ways of life of the non-Muslims, and vice versa. Which is why this controversy is so surprising.

How would this be offensive, obnoxious, religiously outrageous or disrespectful? The controversy is unhealthy and the ensuing debates misguided.

We welcome PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man’s position. He clearly spelled it out when he said that whatever the brand name or logo, liquor was still “haram” in Islam, but the rights of non-Muslims to drink it had to be taken into account.

This controversy must be ludicrous to him too, as he pointed out that Timah is “not a Muslim name or even a person’s name”.

Imagine, the world must find us peculiar to have a controversy sparked from the usage of a common Malay word. This does not augur well to the values of moderation in Malaysia.

We reiterate that this is a non-issue, and the existing laws on trade description and trademarks are sufficient to regulate the matter. We would also like to call upon all Malaysians, leaders and citizens alike, to uphold the values of moderation and prevent this debate to degenerate into shouting matches of racial and religious bigotry.

– Gan Ping Sieu, Co-President of CENBET

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