'Religious sensitivity' has been abused and misused over the years by R Nadeswaran
Wednesday, April 08, 2020
Elixir of the Gods
Malaysiakini : COMMENT | Over the years, the
phrase “religious sensitivity” has been abused and misused by all and
sundry – religious leaders, politicians, backboneless civil servants and
above all, wannabe politicians and those who seek their five minutes of
There’s nothing that can escape their eyes or ears.
Aided and abetted by people within the system, they will go to great
lengths to achieve their objectives, which can sometimes be described as
as I view it, is between an individual and his maker. What he does or
does not do is a matter for him to answer in the hereafter. Being
obnoxious and playing holier than thou is perhaps redemption for many
who had diverted from their paths or fallen by the wayside.
is not for me or anyone to pass judgment on the path he or she has
taken or the manner in which religion is evangelised, unless it treads
on another faith. But for those who put political existence before
principles and ethics, remaining silent or supporting it on the quiet
has been the mantra for survival.
Three years ago, I wrote: “… the
nation is being held to ransom by a handful of zealots. Yet, the
government is watching with folded arms and refuses to stand up to this
kind of bullying.
“Even the civil service has become subservient
to the frolics of the few. All and sundry have got their priorities
wrong for political expediency.
“At every turn, religion is
creeping into our daily lives unabated. Despite espousing moderation,
both verbally and in writing, these so-called advocates of temperance
and reasonableness retreat into their cocoons when confronted with
lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then. The general
election two years ago saw the government changing hands – twice. But
nothing has changed, except that the religious zealots have become more
brazen. The latest furore over allowing the two breweries in the country
to operate, albeit on a small scale to meet the demands of the
consumer, is a case in point.
But yet again, the claim that the
hidden hand of the deep state was the cause may have some truth.
breweries – Heineken and Carlsberg – would not be that stupid to wave
the approval letters and put them in public domain to their detriment.
So, from where did the letter, which ended up on social media pages,
Now to the core issue: The approval was given by the
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry on March 31 was because the
government held that the beer maker was a “food supply operator” and
was given partial exemption under the movement control order (MCO).
Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob confirmed that the exemption had
been revoked at a special cabinet meeting chaired by the prime minister.
(on Sunday), there were many viral messages on social media questioning
the operations of brewers Heineken and Carlsberg that received letters
allowing their factories to operate.
The International Trade and
Industries Ministry will issue immediate revocation letters,” Ismail
But much earlier, Federal Territories Minister Annuar Musa (photo, below)
had let the cat out of the bag via Twitter saying that the approval was
not in line with the MCO policy. “It has been cancelled this morning...
because this was not in line with the policy of the government,” he
It appears that even ministers were competing to make the announcement!
was acceptable with government policies on March 31 became “not okay” a
week later. Then again, the exemption letter was given by one ministry
and the revocation is to be issued by another ministry – again an
indication that all is not hunky-dory in the federal cabinet, with
certain parties demanding for their pound of flesh.
Ismail’s words provide the “real” answers to the revocation because food
includes beverages and this includes beer. So, the cabinet had acted on
the viral messages on social media. Is this government guided by the
law, rules and regulations, principles, logic and common sense – or on
viral messages from religious bigots?
Is the cabinet aware
that both the breweries contribute as much as RM100 million per week in
taxes? At a time when money is becoming scarce and when even holy men
are looking for handouts, why let this opportunity go?
the dogmatic, the many diehards and extremists who want to impose their
religious values on others, chew this for a change: The Taybeh Brewery
in the West Bank produces six kinds of beer for the domestic and foreign
markets: golden, light, dark, amber, white and alcohol-free.
owner, Nadim Khoury sees Taybeh’s beer as a small contribution to
coexistence. It brings together Israelis and Palestinians – Christians,
Jews and Muslims – alike.
And he has a message for the
naysayers: “The people take every opportunity to find a distraction.
With or without alcohol, a bottle of beer lets people relax and forget
about politics for a while.”