Malaysia: Conservative lawmaker calls for alcohol ban on flights

An alcohol ban could hurt business and first-class passengers of Malaysia Airlines. Source: Reuters

AN Islamist party wants a total ban on alcohol on board Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) flights, comparing its planes to nightclubs where people are “free to do what they wish”.

Malaysia’s opposition-inclined Pan Islamic Party (PAS), which reiterated its calls for the ban this week said the ruling government must also not fear losing customers if the beverages were not served.

“The ban on alcoholic drinks in aeroplanes is a lesson to the customers the plane is not an entertainment center or nightclubs for them to do what they wish,” PAS central committee member Riduan Mohd Nor said, as quoted by the Malay Mail Online.

Riduan said the airline should consider the ban as there were also infants and the elderly on board.

“It is a temporary transit ferrying passengers from one place to another. Therefore, the safety of passengers and the plane is the main issue that cannot be compromised.”

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Responding to the proposed ban, Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the government would leave it to the airline to decide on whether or not it would serve alcohol in the future.

“Airlines such as MAB, which fly many types of passengers to various destinations around the world need to meet their customers’ needs especially for business class and first class,” he said.

Politicians from the ultra-religious party have made repeated calls for the alcohol ban. They previously suggested the twin tragedies that struck the MH370 and MH17 flights were partly due to the airlines’ “immoral” practice of serving alcohol, alluding they incurred a form of “punishment” from God.

Meanwhile, travel agents and frequent flyers have outrightly rejected the proposed ban.

An in-flight bar aboard Emirates Airbus A380. Source: Shutterstock/Sorbis

Rey-Z Travel Services chief operating officer Norhanizah Ahmed Ahmad said the ban was unnecessary as MAB’s customers were from different religious backgrounds.

She said the serving of alcohol on flights was not an issue unless it’s served to Muslims, whose religion forbids them from drinking.

She said, as quoted by Free Malaysia Today:

“We are not a 100 percent Muslim country, but a multiracial one, unlike Saudi Arabia and Brunei.”

Norhanizah said the proposed ban would only further cripple the airline already facing so many challenges.

Frequent flyer Christina Chan echoed Norhanizah’s stance.

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“Malaysia Airlines fly to various destinations around the world with different passengers from different countries. It’s common for them to consume alcohol with their food,” she said.

“If there is a total ban, we would not be able to cater to passengers’ needs, especially for those in business and first class,” she said.