Why is the KL Better Beer Festival that has previously been held five times not allowed this year?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to say that the beer fest is so important that we all must defend its existence. I have not attended any beer fest myself!
But, its existence at least proves one thing, that our society is tolerant and accommodating.
What I mean by accommodation is that you cannot force other people to do what they don’t like to do, or stop them from doing what they want to do.
You can’t force a person to attend the beer fest, but no one should stop you from attending it either, if you are not a Muslim and have passed the legal drinking age.
Our society used to be quite tolerant for the past several decades. While you don’t like or accept something, you won’t stop people from liking or accepting it.
And we used to take so much pride in such tolerance.
Unfortunately, this merit is slowly dying off now.
The Better Beer Festival is only one of many instances we’ve seen. If it can’t be held this year, chances are there we may not see another beer fest on this land next year and the years after that.
Prior to this, we saw bans and restrictions on stage performances by specific foreign artistes, or cinemas were not allowed to operate in some places unless the lights were left on throughout screening or if male and female patrons were seated separately.
Male and female customers were also barred from lining up in the same queues behind the checkout counters at supermarkets, while shops had to remain shut during the fasting month.
To be honest, I have no idea what will come next.
The so many bans and restrictions all in the name of religion only meet the needs of a handful of weird people without taking into consideration the needs and feelings of the rest of our society.
A PAS central committee member proposed to ban the beer festival, and then our DBKL rejected the organizers’ application citing three very weird reasons, one of which was: rain!
Even though the organizers had promised to ensure that minors and Muslims would not be allowed in the event, that, along with the organizers’ past records, has failed to overturn a PAS leader’s prejudices and distaste of beer.
That puts our traditional tolerance under the weight of PAS’ religious cause.
PAS is not a ruling party, and even the objection this time has yet to be raised to the level of the party’s top leadership, our mayor has failed to consider the facts that it is not the first time such a festival has been held and that KL is an international metropolis that often rivals the world’s most sophisticated cities in modernity, diversity and cultural tolerance.
Hereafter any event to be staged in this country will be subjected to the deliberate resistance from PAS or other religious bodies in the name of defending the sanctity of their faith.
KL and other major cities in Malaysia will lose their identities and will become more like cities in the Arab world, or perhaps worse than some of the more liberal Middle Eastern cities.
This is not the 21st century Malaysia we want.