Minister Ong criticises Immigration Dept concerning beer festival

THE Immigration Department’s intention to bar foreigners coming for The Better Beer Festival will indirectly affect Malaysia’s tourism industry, says International Trade and Industry Minister II Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan.

Enforcement officers should adopt an open mind in discharging their duties, he said, pointing out that foreigners come as tourists on social visit passes, Oriental Daily News reported yesterday.

Unless they threaten the security of the country, denying them entry just to stop them from taking part in the beer fest does not bode well for both the country and tourists, he added.

He urged authorities that have to deal with religiously or racially sensitive issues, to consult with representatives from various ethnic groups first, instead of making unilateral decisions particularly regarding activities concerning other races.

Ong, who is Tanjung Malim MP and MCA secretary-general, said this at a Mid-Autumn Festival cum “Respect the Elderly” gathering in Ipoh on Sunday night, when asked to comment on the Immigration’s decision to bar foreigners from coming to Malaysia for The Better Beer Festival and an un-related gay party event.

According to Ong, in carrying out their duties, enforcement officers should put aside any religious bias and deal with matters at hand objectively in order to maintain racial harmony.

He said the beer industry organises promotional campaigns every year, including holding activities on a bigger scale in collaboration with other industries. These organisers hold valid business licences and their promotional activities cater mainly to Malaysians, he explained.

“If there are other reasons such as security threats, the authorities concerned can discuss with representatives from the industry to, for example, reduce the scale or change the venues of the activities, instead of rejecting the applications to hold these activities outright based on personal religious stand, resulting in public discontent,” he said.