The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) is of the view that Oktoberfest, a German beer festival, should never be permitted at all and we have been consistent in our stand.

We launched a nationwide anti-alcohol campaign in 1988 to tackle the problem from different angles. This tireless effort came in the form of numerous letters and memos to the authorities, coaxing them to take action, especially in the form of effective legislation.

Beer festivals is not a Malaysian culture; in fact, from the religious perspective alcohol drinking is consider haram to Muslims and is advised against by Christianity, Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism mainly because it is an intoxicant.

Alcohol impairs brain function resulting in poor judgment, reduced reaction time, loss of balance and motor skills, or slurred speech. It is also associated with chronic diseases such as liver cirrhosis, pancreatitis; various cancers including liver, mouth, throat, larynx, and esophagus; high blood pressure; and psychological disorders.

In the World Health Organization Global Status Report on Alcohol 2004, it reported that “more teenagers in Malaysia are starting to drink alcoholic beverages at an earlier age.” It is estimated that Malaysians splurge more than RM2 billion every year on alcohol.

It stated that “45 per cent of Malaysian youths under the age of 18 consume alcohol regularly. Of all the legal and illegal drugs, alcohol is by far the most widely used by teenagers, and according to a national survey many are regularly drinking to excess.”

This trend is worrying especially by permitting beer festivals, the government is sending a wrong signal to Malaysians that it is alright to consume alcohol in excess.

On the part of the alcohol industry, it entices people with advertisements and promotions, glamorising an alcohol drinking lifestyle which in reality endangers health.

The Road Safety Council estimates that 30% of road accidents nationwide are caused by drunk driving. According to statistics on drunk driving between 2010 and April 2015, it attributed to a total of 1,035 road accidents of which 618 resulted in deaths, 207 resulted in serious injuries.

The reason is that if you drink a little more than two cans of beer it is likely that you will fail the breath analyser test as the alcohol is 100 ml of your breath would exceed the prescribed limit of 35 microgram’s of alcohol. For that, it is a fine of RM1,000 or a maximum of RM6,000 and a jail of up to 12 months.

Therefore, on these grounds, we want the government to rein in alcohol festivals, preventing them from growing by the year because of intensive promotions by beer companies at the expense of Malaysians.

Letter to Editor, 29 September 2017