‘Political sensitivities’ excuse a slippery slope, Cenbet warns

Simon-Lim-Cenbet

PETALING JAYA: The Centre for a Better Tomorrow (Cenbet) warns that citing “political sensitivities” in banning legal activities is a slippery slope which may lead to similar action in other areas as well.

Responding to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) recent decision to deny organisers of the Better Beer Festival 2017 a permit to hold the event, Cenbet said this could lead to “state encroachment into more areas of personal life”.

“It is a slippery slope when ‘political sensitivities’ is cited for banning perfectly legal activities.

“By pulling the plug on the event, there are fears that DBKL and other government agencies may extend the same fervour into other areas, such as licensing for eateries in malls or dress codes in public areas,” board of governors member Simon Lim said in a statement today.

The Better Beer Festival 2017, which was to be held on Oct 6 and 7, was set to showcase 250 different craft beers by 43 independent breweries from 12 countries, along with a variety of food and live performances.

On Monday, however, DBKL said the organisers’ request for a permit to hold the event, received on Aug 28, had been rejected.

It reportedly described the event as “politically sensitive”, adding that if organisers MyBeer Malaysia proceeded with the event, authorities had the right to take action against them to the full extent of the law.

This followed opposition to the event by PAS, with the Islamist party’s central committee member Riduan Mohd Nor labelling it as a “vice festival” and claiming that such events could lead to Kuala Lumpur becoming known as the vice centre of Asia.

However, Lim pointed out that the event had been held before, adding that this would have been its sixth year had DBKL not denied the permit.

He said DBKL’s decision only deepened “the yawning divide” among Malaysia’s different communities, enhancing the perception that the values of one community were superior to the rest.

“This does not augur well for a plural society where the Federal Constitution guarantees the rights of all,” he said.

“When state intervention results in some communities feeling aggrieved while others feel triumphant, society becomes more divided and extremism starts to grow.”

Lim reminded DBKL that it had not been set up as a “moral guardian” and that its area of jurisdiction was a cosmopolitan city consisting of locals of different races as well as a sizeable community of expatriates and tourists who come from diverse backgrounds.

He urged DBKL to rescind its decision and allow the permit for the event to go on, as long as it fulfilled all legal conditions.

“Once political parties and civil authorities start acting like moral police, Malaysia will be poorer,” he said.