Beer Ban Again?

(Image source: http://www.comeraghcc.com)

Here we go again

Selangor PAS wants the state government to include beer in its ban on the sale of alcohol in all Muslim-majority areas and state executive councillor Ronnie Liu to be removed from his post as head of local government

(The Star)

This is not the first time that the Selangor PAS raised the issue on banning of beers in this State. Whilst I understand where PAS is coming from on this matter, I believe they are misguided and hitting on the wrong solution. It is unfair for beer drinking citizens should the ban materialised as suggested by PAS.

There are just too many loopholes in the PAS’ demand, namely:-

  • How PAS will determine which area is a Muslim majority area? By electoral list? By some survey? By household number? By number of Muslims on the street? Or by some hidden, random numbers?
  • Assuming the government had identified as Muslim and non Muslim majority areas – would there be a “yearly review” to be determine if there has been any shift in the composition of the people in the said areas?
  • What happens on a non Muslim majority area? There will not be any ban on the sale of beers? If so, does it look too unfair for the non Muslims who are staying on Muslim majority areas? That they are getting unfair treatment compared to non Muslims in other areas?
  • What stops some Muslims from travelling from Muslim majority area to non Muslim majority area and buying and consuming beer? If PAS are claiming a wide ban will discourage these Muslims from drinking beer, how they will monitor the same in areas where beers are sold?

There are indeed loopholes on the call for beer ban and whilst it is going to be a problem enforcing this ban (to meet its original objectives); it is also being unfair to the non Muslims who have all the right to drink beer.

PAS instead of calling for ban on beers should look at other means of meeting the objectives of ensuring Muslims are not consuming beer (or any alcohol). These means should include among others:-

  • Education – by putting a ban on the sale of beer, it is effectively puts a stop on the supply but not on the demand. When beer drinking citizens find it is harder to get the supply, they will either travel elsewhere to get the supply or get their supply from the black market or other illegal means. PAS should instead start on educating the citizens on the implication of drinking beers from religion, moral and health aspect
  • Enforcement – allow the outlets to sell beers but with a strict condition that it must be sold to non Muslims. If these outlets are found violating the conditions, then heavy fine must be imposed. Periodic checking must be done to ensure that the conditions are enforced all time.

This way, PAS can meet its objective whilst ensuring fairness to the non Muslims. Clear guidelines must be drawn up to ensure that both the consumers and the sellers are aware on who beers and alcohols can be sold and on what conditions.

Calling for a blanket ban on beer will not achieve much and instead it will only back-fire.

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