Azmin denies giving approval for beer fest in Selangor

Azmin-Ali-utusan-malaysia-saman-beer-fest-1PETALING JAYA: Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali has denied giving approval for the Better Beer Festival 2017 to be held in the state after the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) rejected the organisers’ application for the event.

This followed a report by Utusan Malaysia that Azmin had said the Selangor government would not prevent the beer fest from being held in the state.

In the report yesterday, titled “Azmin tidak kisah pesta arak di Selangor”, Utusan said Azmin had told reporters that this was in line with the state’s principles of respecting the rights of those from other races and religions.

Utusan also quoted Azmin as saying that the organisers would have to comply with regulations set by state or local authorities.

The report corresponded with a blurb on the front page of the daily, with the headline “Azmin benar pesta arak”.

In a statement issued by the Selangor Menteri Besar’s office today, however, strategic communications director Yin Shao Loong said it was “an utter lie” that Azmin had approved any beer festival and disregarded police advice.

“We challenge Utusan Malaysia to produce proof that he had said any such thing.

“Azmin, who is currently on an official investment trip in India, has instructed his lawyers to issue a legal notice of demand to Utusan Malaysia.”

According to Yin, Azmin had demanded an unconditional retraction, public apology and damages from Utusan.

“As the menteri besar had stated in his earlier comments, any decision in this matter is under the jurisdiction of the local authority and must be in accordance with all the relevant rules and regulations laid down by the law. He will not pre-empt the local authority in this regard.

“As menteri besar, it is his solemn duty to uphold and follow the laws, by-laws and procedures of the state.

“The state government’s position is that as a responsible government, not only do we need to respect the rights of other races and religions but we must also protect their rights; that is the state’s policy,” he said.

The Better Beer Festival 2017 was initially slated to be held on Oct 6 and 7 at the Publika Shopping Gallery in Kuala Lumpur.

This would have been the sixth consecutive year the event was held.

Last Monday, however, DBKL said it had decided to reject the organisers’ application to host the event.

On Thursday, Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said in a statement that the event was cancelled due to security reasons.

“We have information that militants are planning to sabotage the festival. To avoid any untoward incident, the police have to be proactive by objecting to the festival,” he said.

The event’s organisers, MyBeer Malaysia, previously said they had been told by authorities that the beer fest was “politically sensitive”.

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 Asia’s vice centre.