According to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs, Datuk Idris Ahmad, the Oktoberfest celebration should not be endorsed because it has the ability to destabilise social harmony and safety.
Idris explained that Oktoberfest activities, which usually entail the consumption of beer, may cause societal issues because alcohol is involved unreservedly in an event setting as non-Muslims are not prohibited from drinking alcohol.
“During Oktoberfest, everybody should follow Malaysian laws and regulations. Islam is the federal faith,” Idris stated.
He asserted that consuming alcoholic beverages at a public party must be prohibited because it can cause social ills that disrupt unity and wellbeing.
“Additionally, the intoxicant effects of alcohol can result in domestic violence, traffic fatalities, poverty, scuffles, health complications, and issues with work productivity,” he said on Wednesday (July 27), in response to politician Lim Guan Eng’s request for the Prime Minister to pitch in and opine his thoughts regarding the matter.
Idris also noted that these cultural festivals may only be held within the country if they do not incorporate practices that go against Muslim faith and bring potential harm to the local Muslim community.
He mentioned that the government is not opposed to the Japanese Embassy’s Bon Odori festival as it is a cultural commemoration of Japan, centred around their traditions and beliefs.
Despite Idris’s initial suggestion that the festival be banned from local grounds, saying that Muslims who participate in it may be “swayed by elements of other religious faiths”, the event took place successfully at the Shah Alam Sport Complex with an estimated 35,000 participants from across the nation in attendance- among them, Muar MP Syed Saddiq himself.
Ironically, netizens speculated that the festival seeing an even larger crowd than anticipated this year was owed to the controversy around it which inevitably led to large-scale publicity.
Oktoberfest this year is set to begin on September 17 and end on October 3. This begs the question: Can we once again expect the same flak-induced fate?