What’s the fuss? ‘Rilek lah, Timah’
By Zan Azlee
Oh boy, here we go again. The crazies are out and they’re making as much noise as they can. One of the highlights in Parliament this week (aside from the budget) has to be when PKR’s Tangga Batu MP Rusnah Aluai mentioned that drinking the local whiskey brand Timah is like drinking a Malay woman.
Wait, what does that even mean? Can you drink a woman? Oh, maybe we shouldn’t answer that. This is a general news portal that is read by those of many ages. We want to keep it wholesome and decent for all. But really, I do want to know what Rusnah meant when she said that in Parliament.
She has apologised though for her statement and said that it was misunderstood. All she really wanted to point out was that there might be confusion over the label and it might confuse the Malay Muslims in the country. She said the word Timah is “imagined” as a Malay woman, such as Mak Timah, Kak Timah or Makcik Timah.
Hence, when we drink the whiskey, then it is like drinking a Malay woman. But first of all, whiskey is an alcoholic drink. What business does a Malay Muslim in Malaysia have drinking alcohol?
We all know that this is considered haram in Islam. So why would a Malay Muslim, after seeing a bottle that is labelled as ‘whiskey’ and ‘alcohol’ do such a thing?
The memes are everywhere on the Internet now and the issue is one of the most amusing viral content at the moment. Everyone is talking about it. But a quick note for those who might not be familiar, the whiskey brand Timah is actually referring to tin ores. It has an image of Captain Tristam Speedy, a British army officer during colonial times.
Okay, fine. Rusnah has apologised “to parties who took offence to the remark”. But I think nobody really took offence to it. If anything, everyone just saw the stupidity and idiocy in such a statement, and that is why the reaction around the country has been as intense as it had been. We just can’t believe that such a thing could be a… thing!
Think about it. What about all the food products that have ‘people’ names? There’s Julie’s biscuits, Dutch Lady milk and Daim chocolates.
Come on, do you really want to chew on Ramly’s burger or take a bite out of Ali’s tongkat? To be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t want to. But then is it really Ramly’s burger that we’re eating or Ali’s tongkat that we’re swallowing?
Not the first time
But then again, we would be the idiots for acting so shocked by it. Instances such as this have been happening in Malaysia for donkey’s years. Remember way back in 2016 when the Islamic development Department (Jakim) didn’t like the fact that hot dogs were called hot dogs? It didn’t matter whether the sausage was beef or chicken, they just didn’t think it would be halal.
A hot dog is just a name. Look at the famous international food operators The Halal Guys. They serve halal American food and their most popular item is the hot dog, yet it is still halal. But what happened in Malaysia? Go and check the menus of places like A&W and 1901 who are famous for their hot dogs. A&W’s popular Coney Dog is now just known as Coney. Same with 1901.
How about the iconic A&W root beer? They were pressured into changing it to just RB because, apparently, beer sounded too alcoholic. Never mind the fact that root beer is just a sweet sarsaparilla drink. A&W even changed their website domain from rootbeer.com to anwmalaysia.com.my.
It was reported that the then minister in charge of religious affairs Jamil Khir Baharom said that there was never an issue with the food name, specifically hot dog which is used to describe sausage-based food products. But the name change stayed on anyway and now there are no longer hot dogs in Malaysia.
Here’s the thing. All this may be amusing and comedic, but it shows a different level of insecurity and siege mentality that plagues the Malay Muslims in Malaysia.
Are we that threatened with our beliefs and culture that all common sense gets thrown out the window? Are we that stupid and ignorant that we cannot understand these things?
But then again, if we observe and look at all these instances, from the issue with the words hot dog and root beer to the brand name Timah, who has been the people making the most noise? Is it the rakyat or is it the politicians? I am leaning towards the politicians. The common folk are just, as Malay slang would say – rilek aje, brader (just relax, brother)!
Now the company that produces Timah has agreed to consider a name change for their whiskey. I guess it’s their right to do so. But Winepak Corporation Sdn Bhd did nothing wrong to my knowledge.
In my opinion, by doing so, we would be pandering and succumbing to the political idiocy that is happening. Stand up to it and hopefully these politicians would not make Malaysia look so dumb anymore.
[This article was originally written for and published at Malaysiakini.com]
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