KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — DAP’s Teresa Kok today advised Environment and Water Minister Datuk Seri Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man to focus on the global climate crisis instead of trying to please certain parties upset by the name of a locally made liquor.
Kok was responding to Tuan Ibrahim’s remark that the government will ban local products that can trigger negative racial or religious reactions from society, which came about in the wake of uproar over a made-in-Malaysia whisky named Timah.
“I read his statement with great amusement. I also wonder whether Tuan Ibrahim understands the global and local challenges of his own ministry in the government, namely the Ministry of Environment and Water, and whether he is committed to the causes too.
“Tuan Ibrahim is not only absent in this important world environment conference, his major concern in the country now is not on climate change but is on the name of a locally-produced whiskey and the names of other consumer’s products,” she said in a statement.
Kok, a former primary industries minister, was referring to the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties taking place in Glasglow, Scotland from October 31 to November 12.
She noted that at the event, environment ministers would be discussing how their countries could reduce carbon emissions and contain the steady rise of temperatures by the end of the century.
She reminded the PAS deputy president of his duty to the country.
“I urge Tuan Ibrahim to uphold the objectives and functions of the Ministry of Environment and Water, to enhance public awareness on environment protection and climate change, and not to sensationalise trivial issues based on race and religion,” she added.
She sarcastically asked if he would instead present a list of products to ban because their names sounded sensitive to certain demographic groups, as the key performance indicator of his first 100 days in office.
“Is this the job scope of the Minister of Environment and Water? Is the name of a Malaysian whiskey [sic] going to cause the increase of carbon emissions in Malaysia or pollute the water sources in Malaysia?” the Seputeh MP asked.
Timah, an award-winning Malaysian-made whisky, selling at RM190 a bottle made headlines again recently after some Muslim MPs from both the government and Opposition questioned its name.
PKR’s Tangga Batu MP Rusnah Aluai went as far as to say in Parliament that drinking Timah was akin to drinking Malay women, for which she later apologised after drawing public flak.
Its manufacturer, Winepak Sdn Bhd, explained that Timah referred to the Malay word for “tin” and hearkened to the man who brought the whisky drinking culture to colonial British-ruled Malaya, Captain Tristram Speedy, who is also depicted on the bottle.
Last Thursday, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Alexander Nanta Linggi said the company producing the liquor had agreed to consider changing both the name and image of its alcohol product that had triggered the controversy.
Malaysia has very strict rules, with state laws that punish Muslims caught imbibing liquor.