The state's PAS Youth urges Azizan Abdul Razak not to backpedal in the face of mounting criticism over the ban on entertainment outlets.
Despite mounting displeasure expressed by both private organisations and some political parties such as Gerakan, MCA and even DAP, Azizan should remain committed to the decision, its head Ahmad Yahya said.
He said firstly, the legislation to control or ban such premises was enacted by the Umno-led state government in 1997.
It was incorporated as part of the respective local councils’ by-law. Pakatan Rakyat is only enforcing this piece of legislation.
According to Ahmad, the state government had no choice but to impose a harsh guideline because it had observed that many Muslim youths were patronising entertainment outlets, owned by non-Muslims.
This gives rise to the element of social ills gripping the youths and their respective families, he said.
Azizan had announced that the ban was applicable to mostly karoakes, nightclubs, pubs, discotheques, entertainment-based bistros but excluded cinemas, snooker joints or cybercafes.
Ahmad said in light of the growing criticism and politicising of the issue, the wing planned to hold a dialogue with entertainment operators in the state including hoteliers in the island resort of Langkawi.
In the proposed meeting, Ahmad said the wing hoped to clarify any misgivings of the operators and to use the opportunity to explain the Islamic virtues to the audience.
Kedah PAS election director Amiruddin Hamzah, who is a state executive councillor, said the decision was reached in a collective fashion at the state exco meeting.
“There was a discussion and we supported Azizan’s assertion so there is no such thing that people were not consulted,” he said.
The Malaysian Association of Tours and Travel Agents (MATTA) Kedah chapter chairman Pishol Ishak implied that a blanket ban might give the wrong impression to non-Muslim tourists, especially in Langkawi.
He suggested that the state should instead direct entertainment outlet operators to bar Muslims from patronising their premises during Ramadan.
This should work out well as the growth of tourism was often dependent on positive perceptions rather than the negativity of it, he said.
Gerakan: Confusion prevails
Gerakan had stepped up its campaign to oppose the ruling with its state chairman Dr Cheah Soon Hai coming out with a statement, saying that although this legal provision was enacted by the previous BN government, the ruling then was that such outlets were only barred from operating every Thursdays and Fridays, as a reflection of the fasting period.
The adamant attitude of Azizan showed that the PAS-led government was both arrogant and wayward, he said.
“The state government may brush aside the political critics, but they should take in the views of the people here,” he added.
Cheah said members of the government here continued to cast confusion since they did not profess a consistent stance.
From his understanding, the ban was first discussed and passed at a state exco meeting on May 4 and a circular was sent to all district offices on June 2.
The affected type of entertainment outlets included cinemas, karoakes, jukebox houses and family amusement centres.
Now, Azizan had denied that cinemas were affected adding to the prevailing confusion, Cheah said.
PAS’ actions lent weight to the fear among the non-Muslims that it is bent on using extreme Islamic laws to administer Kedah, he added, claiming that PKR and DAP were ineffective in expressing the grievances of the minorities in this context.