Gerakan chief Dominic Lau defends PAS MP’s right to voice opinion on liquor promo

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Permatang Pauh MP only voicing his personal views as an elected representative on behalf of his Muslim constituents.

Penang PAS lawmaker Muhammad Fawwaz Mohamad Jan’s suggestions to a mall in Seberang Jaya not to openly sell liquor was a fair statement, Gerakan president Datuk Dominic Lau Hoe Chai said today amid growing debate on Muslim versus non-Muslim rights.

He said the Permatang Pauh MP was only voicing his personal views as an elected representative on behalf of his Muslim constituents.

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“He is entitled to his right to air his views on behalf of his constituents that consists of about 70 per cent Malay Muslims,” Lau said in a press conference at the Penang Gerakan headquarters when asked to comment on this issue.

He said Muhammad Fawwaz had explained to him that the latter did not stop the mall from selling liquor to non-Muslims.

“He said he had merely asked the mall not to openly sell liquor as it might touch on the sensitivities of Muslims who go to the mall,” Lau said.

However, Lau said Gerakan does not agree with Muhammad Fawwaz’s personal views as the display of liquor for sale in the mall is in conjunction with Chinese New Year, which is in two weeks.

“We believe the mall should be allowed in this instance as it was a promotional exercise for Chinese New Year and is only for a short period of time, a few weeks,” he said.

He added that they would not agree if the sale of liquor was openly promoted the whole year through, but since it was in conjunction with the festive season, it should be allowed.

“Muhammad Fawwaz was only an MP and giving his views, it was not within his authority to stop the mall from selling liquor so those DAP leaders who jumped on this issue should stop politicising this,” he said.

Muhammad Fawwaz, who is also Penang PAS Youth chief, recently posted a Tik Tok video of his visit to Sunway Carnival Mall where he said he had advised the mall not to openly promote the sale of liquor.

This attracted flak from DAP leaders such as Pengkatan Kota assemblyman Daniel Gooi who said in a statement that the PAS MP does not have locus standi to give orders to a commercial entity.

Penang DAP vice-chairman Zairil Khir Johari challenged Gerakan to prove that it was is merely echoing more senior Perikatan Nasional (PN) partners like a “tin kosong” (empty tin) in speaking up on this thorny issue.

“Gerakan did not object when Perikatan Nasional leaders from Bersatu and PAS issued racially sensitive statements aimed at dividing the people,” Zairil claimed in a separate statement today.

He pointed out that Lau proclaimed that Gerakan believed in unity and harmony in politics, but his words appeared to be mere lip service instead of standing up to its PN partners for the rights of non-Muslims.

“It was proven that Gerakan would rather be in the same coalition with religious extremists under PN during campaigning in the recent 15th general election,” Zairil claimed.

“Will Gerakan act based on the principles that they claim to uphold or will they continue to stay silent or support their coalition partners?” he asked.

He said Gerakan does not act as its leaders proclaimed, it will only deepen the perception that the party that once ruled Penang for decades has become irrelevant in today’s Malaysian political landscape.

In an immediate response to Zairil, Lau said PN’s slogan is clean and stable with the emphasis on anti-corruption.

“I wish to remind Zairil that during the GE15 campaign period, DAP had criticised Umno and Barisan Nasional but now, they are together in government, they are together with those whom they have repeatedly said are corrupted,” he said.

He said DAP leaders should reflect on themselves for joining with a party known for corruption before pointing fingers. – MMO