Guan Eng claims Wee using Malaysian whisky branding controversy to get support of non-Muslims after Cabinet allows Timah to keep its name

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File photo of DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng in George Town January 7, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
File photo of DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng in George Town January 7, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 — DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today accused MCA president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong of using the Timah whisky branding controversy

to win the support of non-Muslims.

Lim said that Wee along with Domestic Trade and Cooperatives Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi should be ashamed that they were unable to handle such a simple matter as the name that was clearly in reference to ‘bijih timah’ — the Bahasa Malaysia term for iron ores — to the point that they needed the intervention of the Cabinet.

“Wee is portraying the Cabinet decision to allow Timah brand whisky to maintain its name as a big gain for the non-Malay community and non-Muslims, this shows the steep descent and extent of how much the rights and status of non-Muslims have deteriorated when MCA got back into government and Wee was appointed as Transport Minister.

“A non-issue like retaining the name of Timah whiskey requiring Cabinet approval has made Malaysia an international laughing-stock and shows how perilous the position of non-Malays and non-Muslims are under the current Federal government,” said Lim during a virtual ceramah in Melaka today.

Lim pointed out that the decision on the Timah name came while a ban on the sale of alcohol at Chinese medicine halls and sundry shops in Kuala Lumpur was still in place.

“If both Minister stated that retaining the name Timah whiskey as a demonstration of ‘Keluarga Malaysia’, whilst supporting the ban on the sale of alcohol in Chinese medicine halls and grocery/sundry shops that has been undisturbed since Merdeka, then they are out of touch and disconnected with the aspirations of Malaysians, particularly non-Malays and non-Muslims.

“The ban on the sale of alcohol by DBKL in the capital city clearly interferes in the traditional business practices and customary lifestyle of non-Muslims that is contrary to the Keluarga Malaysia and the diversity and multi-racial and multi-cultural character of Kuala Lumpur,” Lim said.

Earlier today Wee said in a statement that the Cabinet has allowed the whisky brand Timah to keep its name.

Wee and Alexander both reportedly said the manufacturer will be required to include an additional label on the whisky bottle to explain its name reference to “bijih timah” or in Bahasa Malaysia a term used for iron ores.

He added that Alexander’s cooperation in the matter has prevented Pakatan Harapan’s tricks of playing with religious and ethnic issues unable to succeed.

The controversy surrounding the award-winning whisky “Timah” made its way into the Dewan Rakyat on October 28 during the debate session on the Trade Descriptions Bill (Amendment) 2021.

Prior to that on October 18, the PAS Dewan Ulama (DUPP) expressed concern about the use of the name “Timah” as a whisky brand.

Calling for a stop to all promotion and sale of the liquor to the public, DUPP information chief Mohd Nor Hamzah said this was to prevent any negative impact on society, especially young people.

The Malaysian-made whisky, “Timah” is sold at RM190 per bottle and contains 40 per cent alcohol.

The company previously explained that the name “Timah” was a reference to tin mining in colonial Malaya, while the man depicted on the whisky label is Captain Speedy, who is said to have introduced whisky culture to the country.

The company said it was with this historical backdrop in mind that the name “Timah” was used and that it had not intended to stir any controversy.

The company also explained that any interpretation of the name unrelated to Malaysian tin mining is false.

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