In response to the recent argument and controversy over the topic of Timah whiskey, the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) urges the public not to dogmatise the issue of this local whiskey brand, and hastily misinterpret and link it to religious matters. It is not conducive to our social outlook, harmony and co-prosperity of diverse religions, as well as the cultures of various ethnic groups that have been implemented and practised by the secular system of our country.
The locally produced whiskey Timah has recently won several silver awards at international spirits competitions, where the Timah brand name and its signature bottle design were proudly mentioned. However, the related distillery was accused of deliberately using the Malay word, TIMAH, as its brand name to mislead Muslims, thereby causing confusion and raising questions. Additionally, their use of the British colonial officer – nicknamed “Captain Speedy” – as the brand’s image was suspected of promoting colonialism.
The related distillery has already stated and clarified that the name Timah; is purely derived from the Malay word for tin. The brand’s use of Captain Speedy’s portrait is only to commemorate the historical figure who introduced whiskey culture to Malaysia. However, the controversy still rages on across social media. The heated debate has even caused politicians to talk about closing the distillery to quell the smoke of the issue.
KLSCAH believes that in a secular country like Malaysia, any political party or non-governmental organisation (NGO) should not impose the teachings of its religion on non-Muslims. On the contrary, it should seek common ground while reserving differences and respect each other’s customs. Non-Muslims do trade alcohol and drink it in their daily lives. Cultures should be protected and respected, and if the relevant authorities deal with local whiskey brand Timah in the name of religion, it will violate the right to freedom of religion, as emphasised in Article 3 of the Federal Constitution.
KLSCAH believes that the local whiskey Timah name change should not be deliberately hyped and distorted into religious issues by politicians. On the contrary, it should return to the constitution and legal system to treat this matter rationally; ergo, to analyse the brand’s registered trademark from a legal standpoint, whether or not it complies with the laws of our country. The ruling and opposition politicians chose to deliberately provoke a religious controversy when the Malacca state elections are heating up, and they are suspected of winning votes to gain the attention of Muslim communities.
Therefore, our organisation hereby urges both ruling and opposition political members to stop playing with religious issues on the Timah brand rename. In addition to the current restoration of the nation’s economy and people’s livelihood after the epidemic, we should also focus on the Pandora Papers disclosed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on Oct 3. Any politicians involved must be set up with an investigation committee – to investigate in detail – regarding the issue of tax evasion by higher societal classes and politicians. Therefore, instead of taking the opportunity to provoke on racial and religious fronts – such as Timah – to hit people’s nerves and divert attention away from real issues.