Sarawak has no place for fanatics!

A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.

—  Winston Churchill, former British Prime Minister

So, what did we witness over the past few weeks? As if the never-ending political upheavals (now, we also have to add in the tension in the Malacca election) are not enough to stress us, we also have to deal with the few extremists and fanatics in our midst. These usual suspects just refuse to go away.

And what did they do to create disharmony and unhappiness, dividing us, Malaysians, further in the process? By bringing up the old issues of alcohol and gambling, antagonising and annoying those of other races and religions at the same time.

Even many sharing the same religion of this fanatical group do not agree with their pronouncements. (It’s kind of funny that these same crowd never called for the ban on illicit drugs. Why? Well, I’m asking them now. Are illicit drugs and substance abuse okay?)

On Monday, Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Mohammad Sanusi Md Nor announced that he was banning 4D lottery outlets and restricting the sale of alcohol in the state.

The PAS leader said the move to neither issue new licences nor renew existing licences for gambling businesses was intended to tackle social ills caused by gambling.

“This is to ensure a Kedah free of gambling, as we all know it has caused the collapse of family institutions and even civilisations, besides resulting in debt problems,” he was quoted as saying by a news portal.

The MB hoped the people of Kedah will understand the actions taken by the state government to ensure the state is gambling-free.

He also said that restricting the sale of alcohol was to ensure that “Kedahans are always in a sober state of mind”.

I wish to challenge Sanusi to also make Kedah a drug-free state, not only gambling-free.

As for the sober state of mind of Kedahans, I am sure they will be totally sober if they have enough to make ends meet for themselves and their families.

Sanusi should implement more programmes for the poor and needy so as to alleviate their suffering and agony. These groups do not have gambling and drinking problems, that, I am sure.

Asked for his comments on the ban of 4D outlets and the sale of alcohol, Sarawak Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian declared that “Sarawak has nothing to do with the racial and religious polarisation and extremism in Malaya.

“This is not the spirit of MA63 that our founding fathers inked their signatures on.

“Thank God to the Local Government autonomy for Sarawak, we will continue to ensure that our racial harmony and religious freedom continue to shine and be respected by all.

“What happened in Kedah or Kuala Lumpur will not occur in our fair land Sarawak where the cultures, traditions and way of life of all Sarawakians are upheld and respected.

“Be assured that 4D outlets will not be banned or the sale of alcohol restricted. These sectors will operate as usual in Sarawak.

“Let me also state that I am a minister for all Sarawakians and that it is my duty and responsibility to take care of the interests of all of you, my fellow Sarawakians”, Dr Sim added.

I have personally witnessed Sim’s dedication to duty as a minister, politician, medical doctor and community leader. I believe that at his age (Dr Sim is only 56), he should continue to helm a ministry for another decade.

I am sure the lives of many Sarawakians will be better because Dr Sim is around to ensure that they are.

Meanwhile, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii was quick to put PAS in its place and rightly so, stating that “this is the reality when we put an extreme religious party such as PAS in power which has no regards to the rights of non-Muslims in a pluralistic society”.

“This shows a failed government when its leaders remain silent in the midst of corruption and wastage, but purely focus on petty issues and moral-policing.

“We cannot think we, in Sarawak, are fully isolated in this. How about Sarawakians living in Kedah or working in Semenanjung? Do we not speak out for them too?

“If a party like PAS continues to be in power, it has every platform to infiltrate national policies including education that will influence us all”, Yii added.

The young Bandar Kuching MP from the DAP is a diligent and hard-working lawmaker. That I can vouch for him.

Yii has been on my radar since his electoral debut in 2018 because I am also a voter in Bandar Kuching. I’m happy with the way he carries himself as a person and a lawmaker. Dr Yii is a candidate worthy of support.

For now, Dr Sim and Dr Yii have spoken up as patriotic Sarawakians against extremism and fanaticism and they did so loud and clear for you and me.

Malayan politicians should never attempt to import their racial and religious extremism into Sarawak. We can do without such venom in our peaceful and beautiful land of the hornbill.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the New Sarawak Tribune.

• Karambir Singh is indisposed today. His column will appear tomorrow.

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