Beer festival will cause alcohol addiction? Really, asks academic


PETALING JAYA: An academic has rubbished the notion that the much debated The Better Beer Festival will lead to alcoholic addiction.

Nottingham University’s Prof Zaharom Nain, in commenting on Amanah MP Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud’s objections to the beer festival, said it was truly idiotic for anyone to even suggest that.

“Show us evidence when you make such assertions.

“Religious fervour is religious fervour, but don’t make idiots out of yourselves, please.

“Also, nobody’s forcing you to (drink), as it is a ‘sin’. So, don’t force others to do your bidding.

“Finally, health grounds? Eating like a pig at kenduris is also unhealthy. And check out the health benefits of wine, for example,” he told FMT.

The Kota Raja MP had reportedly voiced her opposition to the festival because it encouraged the consumption of alcohol.

She also said that just like cigarettes, alcoholism is a health hazard.

“Doctors know very well that alcoholism will lead to liver cirrhosis and alcoholism is an addiction, as bad as drug addiction,” she said.

In a statement, she had said that such festivals were not popular in the past, but had gained traction due to politicisation as some people attend as a protest to perceived efforts by Malay Muslims to curb their rights by imposing their values on non-Muslims.

As for Islamic Renaissance Front chairman Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, he is of the view that the issue has been politicised, and has probably been used as a strategy to divert from more pressing issues such as the massive corruption.

“But my response to Dr Siti Mariah is this.

“I believe she made it clear that she was not against the rights of non-Muslims to drink beer. And she was against any form of curtailing the rights of non-Muslims.

“But there are two separate issues here. The right to drink beer and the right to get stoned and drunk in an open public sphere. And the right to drink beer socially in private.

“She believes the government’s duty is to encourage a healthy lifestyle. And obviously getting drunk in public is not part of it,” he said.

As a medical doctor, Farouk was of the view that alcohol binging wasn’t beneficial to one’s health.

He further raised the question of where one would draw the line for such a festival.

“If we say ‘yes’ to the beer festival, since it is the right of beer drinkers to drink, shouldn’t we also say yes to a gay festival since it is the right of the gay community to celebrate?”

The Better Beer Festival has been at the centre of attention recently, with PAS central committee member Riduan Mohd Nor labelling the beer fest as a “vice festival”, saying such events could lead to Kuala Lumpur becoming known as Asia’s vice centre.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has since rejected the organiser’s application for the festival, which was supposed to be held at the Publika Shopping Gallery on Oct 6-7.

Today, Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said in a statement that the beer festival was a no-go as there was a militant threat to the event.