“If anyone does not wish to go for Oktoberfest, they are free to stay at home,” says an online petition drafted by feminist activist Boo Su-lyn.
In an article yesterday in the MMO news portal promoting her petition, Boo wrote that in 2017, “beer festivals have suddenly become the victim of racist and bigoted political campaigning”.
The petition titled ‘Save Oktoberfest’ was launched a week ago on www.change.org and has collected 3,066 signatures to date.
Right to publicly showcase beer drinking
Ms Boo, the opinionated MMO columnist-cum-assistant news editor, describes herself as someone “particularly incensed by the ban on Oktoberfest”.
Hence in her ire, she is targetting to obtain 5,000 signatures in support of the thunderbolt to be shot at the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ). Boo’s petition will also be directed to Selangor Menteri Besar Azmin Ali as well as Subang MP Sivarasa Rasiah, Bukit Lanjan Adun Elizabeth Wong and PJ mayor Azizi Mohd Zain.
In her yesterday’s column headlined ‘Reclaiming our culture and public spaces’, Boo explains that she started the above #SaveOktoberfest petition because she believes in “the right to publicly display our culture and lifestyle in cosmopolitan cities like KL and PJ because Malaysia is a diverse country”.
“All Malaysians are equal. No one culture, ethnic group or faith is superior,” she adds.
⇓ ‘Save Oktoberfest’ petition will be delivered to YB Elizabeth Wong
Take pride in siew yoke just as we do nasi lemak
Ms Boo recalled that prior to the current election fever, she had “had an all right time” drinking beer and eating delectable German sausages in the Oktoberfest previously held at the same venue in the 1 Utama shopping complex.
Boo’s petition – which begins with the demand “We want to attend Oktoberfest 2017 …” – is reasoned on the premise that “Oktoberfest is very much in line with our celebratory culture of food and drink”.
According to Boo, “Malaysia should be just as proud of nasi lemak as siew yoke (roast pork), banana leaf rice, Sabahan and Sarawakian cuisine, and dishes from the many other cultures here”.
She posits celebrating beer and siew yoke as something clearly understood by our founding fathers as the basis for understanding “the importance of diversity and unity”.
It is unfathomable to her why MBPJ has outrightly rejected Oktoberfest this year.
Protect precious pork and beloved beer
Boo insists that Malaysia “was built by the blood, sweat and tears of Malaysians across cultures and racial and religious groups”.
“Telling a certain community that their beloved food and drink should only be consumed in private,” she contends, is therefore being “utterly disrespectful”.
To further insinuate that her favoured cuisine is ‘dirty’ is also “highly offensive” to Boo.
Her petition accuses the state of intervening in the freedom of Malaysians to choose for themselves what they want to eat and drink.
The ‘Save Oktoberfest’ petition likens the refusal to grant a permit for celebratring the beer festival to be akin to “extremism” that poisons our neighbourhood and country.
The petition originator argues that to exclude a certain pork-loving and beer-drinking community from public life “is akin to ignoring their contributions to Malaysia”.
To her, this exclusion “marks the top of a slippery slope down to apartheid”.