No-Go for Beer Festival

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Following protests by PAS, who had called the ‘Better Beer Festival 2017’ a “vice festival”, the festival has not been approved by DBKL.

Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL) has rejected an application to hold the ‘Better Beer Festival 2017’ planned for Oct 6 and 7 at Solaris Damansara in Kuala Lumpur.

In a statement on Monday, DBKL corporate communications director Khalid Zakaria said that they received the organiser’s application to host the event on Aug 28 but decided to reject the application.

“If the organiser proceeds with the event, we have the right to take action to the full extent of the law,” Khalid said, Sinar Harian news portal reported.

The report did not include the reason for the rejection.

PAS had protested against the craft beer event, touted as the country’s biggest, calling it a ‘pesta maksiat’ (vice festival), saying such events could lead to Kuala Lumpur becoming known as Asia’s vice centre.

He also asked the authorities what guarantee they could give members of the public who did not participate in the annual event “to ensure their safety from crime, free sex, rape and so on”.

Activist-lawyer Azhar Harun, however, said PAS should provide statistics and proof to back its argument that the beer festival would spike crime rates in the city.

PAS had also demanded that the festival and others like it be banned, saying the public consumption of alcohol was not part of “Eastern culture”.

The Islamist party often protests against such festivals with varying degrees of success, insisting that they could encourage Muslims to partake, despite organisers prominently stating that these are only for non-Muslims.

There are already Shariah laws that punish Muslims who consume alcohol regardless of setting.

The festival had previously been organised in 2012 and 2016.

In 2012, the event was held at Changkat Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, with 200 people attending.

Last year, it was held at the Publika Shopping Gallery and about 3,500 showed up.

The organiser, craft beer distributors MyBeer, was expecting about 6,000 people for the event this year.

They had planned to bring in 250 different craft beers by 43 independent breweries from 12 countries.

The festival also includes a variety of food and live performances.

In a statement issued by MyBeer, it said: “It is with disappointment that we, the organisers of The Better Beer Festival 2017, would like to announce that the festival, slated to be held on Oct 6 and 7, will not be proceeding as scheduled.

“At our meeting with DBKL officials, we were instructed to cancel our event as there are issues with the licensing.

“We were further informed that the decision was made due to the political sensitivity surrounding the event.

“We regret any inconvenience caused to our patrons, partners and sponsors, and thank you for your unwavering support over the last week.”

In an immediate response to the rejection, PAS lawmaker Datuk Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali heaped praises on DBKL.

“DBKL carried the aspirations of all Malaysians who reject the organisation of any immoral festival that damages the people,” Khairuddin said in a statement.

Saw Siow Feng/MMO

However, he also questioned how the organisers were able to promote the event since May when approval had yet been granted by the authorities.

“Was it a provocation to see the response from Malaysians after a similar alcoholic festival was successfully held in 2012 and 2016?” he asked.

He added that such “immoral” festivals would have been approved if nobody had protested.