SELANGOR Menteri Besar Azmin Ali has threatened legal action against Utusan Malaysia for reporting that he allegedly approved a beer festival that has since been called off in Kuala Lumpur following security concerns by the police.
In a front-page story today, headlined ‘Azmin tidak kisah pesta arak di Selangor’ (Azmin does not mind beer festival in Selangor), Utusan said the Selangor PKR government had approved the beer festival in the state, despite police advice against it.
Azmin, who is currently on an official trip in India, had instructed his lawyers to issue a legal notice of demand to Utusan Malaysia, said Yin Shao Loong, strategic communications director at the Selangor Menteri Besar’s Office.
Azmin is demanding an unconditional retraction, public apology and damages from the Umno-owned newspaper.
“We challenge Utusan Malaysia to produce proof that he had said any such thing,” said Yin in a statement today.
“Such false and dishonest reporting shows that Utusan continues to be Umno’s mouthpiece to perpetuate lies and mislead the rakyat.”
Last Thursday, organisers cancelled this year’s Better Beer Festival, which would have been its sixth instalment, after police said the event was the target of a militant attack.
The organisers told The Malaysian Insight that there would be no more beer festivals in the future as it was national security issue.
“It is a total cancellation and it doesn’t look like we will have it again,” the organiser said.
Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said the festival, slated to be held at the Publika shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur on October 6 and 7, would not have the support of the police due to security concerns.
The event was to feature 250 craft beers from 43 breweries worldwide.
Yin said “any decision in this matter” was under the jurisdiction of the local authority, and Azmin would not pre-empt the local authority on the matter.
“The state government’s position is that as a responsible government, not only do we need to respect the rights of other races and religions but we must also protect their rights; that is the state’s policy.”
Yesterday, Azmin said organisers of the Better Beer Festival must comply with local authority regulations if it intendeded to relocate the event to Selangor.
Last Friday, 1,000 people comprising Selangor PAS Youth members and about 30 Muslim civil society bodies held a protest in Shah Alam against beer and gay festivals.