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Malaysia’s Timah whiskey issue resolved; manufacturer does not have to change name: Ministers

Malaysia’s Timah whiskey issue resolved; manufacturer does not have to change name: Ministers

The name of Timah whiskey harks back to the tin mining era in the British Malaya, says its manufacturer. (Photo: Facebook/TIMAH)

PETALING JAYA: The manufacturer behind the controversial whiskey brand Timah can keep the name following a decision by the Malaysian Cabinet, according to two ministers. 

Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong said in a Facebook post on Saturday (Nov 13) that the Cabinet had discussed the issue and it has now been resolved.

“Timah does not need to be renamed and the manufacturer also agreed to provide more explanation on the origin of Timah. Timah means bijih timah, which is related to tin ores or tin mining,” he said.

Dr Wee said he met the representatives from the whiskey manufacturer’s board of directors last Wednesday to understand the issue and the latest position of the company.

He thanked Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi for coordinating with him on resolving the issue.

Malaysian Chinese newspaper Sin Chew Daily also quoted Mr Nanta on Saturday as saying that the Cabinet has agreed to allow the whiskey manufacturer to maintain its name, but to include additional information on the label to explain that the name Timah is in reference to tin ores. 

This was supposedly a proposal from wine manufacturer Winepak Corporation (M) Sdn Bhd.

“I met with the alcohol manufacturer in question and discussed how to settle this issue.

“I then presented the company’s proposal to the Cabinet, and the Cabinet agreed to it,” Mr Nanta was quoted as saying.

The minister hoped the Timah name fiasco would cease to be an issue.

“I have tried my best to resolve this issue,” he said.

Malaysia's Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Alexander Nanta Linggi. (File photo: Bernama)

The issue arose after some groups in Malaysia, including the Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), protested against the use of the name Timah, which they said alluded to the name of Prophet Muhammad's daughter, Fatimah.

They also criticised the portrait on the label of the whiskey bottle, which they said looked like a man wearing a kopiah or a skullcap usually worn by some Muslims.

The manufacturer had explained that the name Timah was a reference to tin mining in colonial Malaya, while the man on its label is Captain Tristram Speedy, an English officer in Malaya during the British colonial era.

On Oct 28, the manufacturer had asked for a week to discuss with its stakeholders and board of directors on changing the name and label image in a meeting with several ministries, the Star reported. 

Mr Nanta said after the meeting that the ministry will also improve the procedures, which involve multiple ministries and relevant agencies, so that a similar issue will not recur in the future. 

NO ONE FROM PAS SUPPORTS TIMAH: PARTY VICE PRESIDENT

Responding to the Cabinet’s decision, PAS vice president Idris Ahmad said that the party had taken a clear and consistent stance on liquor.

"On this issue, PAS’s stance on alcohol is clear. We do not agree to whatever name is used, whether it is Timah, Dolah or Wahab. 

“No one from the party leadership supports the Timah whiskey issue. Our stance is clear," said Mr Idris as quoted by Malay daily Sinar Harian on Sunday. 

Mr Idris, however, refused to comment in his capacity as minister in charge of religious affairs in the Prime Minister’s Office, saying that the Cabinet already had its final say, according to the Star.

Source: Agencies/ih (tx)

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