Wednesday, November 26, 2008

PAS & Prohibition

The storm over the issue of severely restricting the sale of alcohol in Selangor has since come to pass when the proposal which was to be tabled in the Majlis Perbandaran Klang (MPK) meeting this morning was withdrawn, and the Selangor Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim gave a press conference to douse the fire later in the afternoon.

I had issued a media statement earlier in the morning with headlines on the issue appearing on all Chinese press. While, the matter may have come to a momentary pass, some of the points, which were also reported in Malaysiakini and The Malaysian Insider remain valid, so I'll repost my entire statement below.

PAS Selangor Needs A Crash Course on Coalition Politics

The Chinese vernacular press today had headlines screaming that PAS Selangor intends to impose a ban on the sale of alcohol throughout the state, which will involve stopping the sale of these products in 7-11 outlets, mini-markets as well as 'open' coffee shops.

It also appears that despite not having obtain approval for such a proposal in the Selangor state executive committee (EXCO), PAS Selangor has attempted to subvert the EXCO's authority by introducing such regulations in Selangor by instructing its municipal councillors to table such motions for approval at the local councils.

While PAS Selangor has every right to propose any regulations it feels is necessary, they must not forget that in Selangor, they are part of a coalition comprising of 2 other parties in the state whereby they possess 8 seats out of 36 seats won by the Pakatan Rakyat coalition. Therefore, any attempts by PAS Selangor to flex its muscles without due regard to its fellow coalition partners will be deemed as arrogant and uncooperative, which will only serve to weaken the governing coalition which was voted in by the Selangor citizens.

More critically, PAS must understand the fact that Selangor, perhaps more than any other state is one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan states in the country, with non-Malays and non-Muslims comprising at least 49% of the population. PAS Selangor leadership under State Executive Councillor, Datuk Dr Mohd Hasan Ali must realise that it has won many seats in Selangor which are mixed constituencies such as Kota Raja parliamentary seat. PAS has won with a sizeable 8,329 votes majority, despite the fact that more than 50% of the population are non-Muslims – a feat which was previously unimaginable before March 8th.

Hence, if PAS Selangor choses to ignore the spirit of the multi-racial and multi-cultural mandate granted by the people of Selangor in the last elections, its continued unilateral attempts to impose its views in the Selangor administration will only lead to the break up in the state Pakatan Rakyat.

The DAP does not and will never support the sale of “haram” goods such as alcohol and spirits to Muslims, giving full respect to each their religious beliefs. However, the DAP will never support the blanket banning on the sale of alcohol in retail outlets, not because we encourage the promotion of alcohol consumption but because the proposed ban in essence infringes on the rights of others in state of Selangor.

We call upon the state PAS leadership to listen to the voice of reason not only from its coalition partners but also from within its own party which is not unanimous with the decision. PAS Selangor must understand that it is part of a coalition led by the Selangor Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and learn quickly the intricacies of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition which is vastly different from the Barisan Nasional, where UMNO lords over its coalition partners.
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