M'sia's PAS wants whiskey brand to change 'offensive' name & logo, company refutes their claims

Timah, the Malay translation for the word tin, not a reference to Fatimah.

Faris Alfiq | October 20, 2021, 05:22 PM

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An internationally renowned whiskey brand from Malaysia, TIMAH, came under fire by the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), who said that the brand is insensitive to Muslims, The Star reported.

The mufti for the state of Penang, Wan Salim Wan Noor, called on the government to order the company to change the name of the whiskey, so it does not "trigger the sensitivity of Muslims in the country". 

The PAS Ulama Council (an association of religious scholars and teachers) also urged the government on Oct. 18 to shut down the company "to avoid a precedent of new liquor companies emerging," the party's information chief Mohd Nor Hamzah said, as reported by The Star.

Why is TIMAH considered insensitive?

According to the The Star, Wan Salim claimed the word "Timah" was derived from the word "Fatimah", the name of Prophet Muhammad's daughter.

He also added that what made the branding worse was the purported image of "a religious man in a beard and skullcap".

"We hope the country's leaders, particularly those who are Muslim, will also state their opposition towards the insensitivity shown by this alcohol manufacturer," he said.

Pic from Twitter.

According to Free Malaysia Today, Wan Salim also argued that most Muslims are not aware of the origins of its name and the identity of the man on the bottle.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Idris Ahmad echoed the mufti's sentiment and called on the company to change the name of the whiskey.

According to Malay Mail, Idris said that they "do not agree with the principle of using the ‘Timah’ brand name. What does the company mean by that name? Is there a new normalisation? This is what we are worried about."

Timah: Translation for tin

The whiskey company posted a clarification on its Facebook page on Oct. 15 about "misinformation".

The statement said that "any interpretation of our name unrelated to Malaysian mining is false."

Via TIMAH/Facebook

Timah, according to the company's statement, is a local translation for the word "tin".

"The name of TIMAH Whiskey harks back to the TIN MINING ERA during British Malaya," the statement added.

As for the depiction of a bearded, religious man, the company clarified that "the man on our bottle, Captain Speedy, was one of the men who introduced whiskey culture back then."

View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Timah Whiskey (@timahwhiskey)

On its Instagram account dated Apr. 10, TIMAH also posted a piece of trivia regarding Captain Speedy and his connection to Malaya.

Speedy was the Assistant Resident of Perak, and he established and named Malaysia's oldest town Taiping, meaning Heavenly Peace.

TIMAH ended the clarification by stating that "TIMAH is meant to be enjoyed by non-Muslims above the legal alcohol purchasing age."

Netizens unimpressed by the call

In contrast to the criticism from the clerics, some Malaysian netizens were rather less worked up.

Some Malaysians were also confused as to why there was a big deal over the branding of the whiskey.

Others even pointed out there are liquor brands with Arabic script on the bottles in reference to a Muslim poet, Abu Nuwas.

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Top images via Lim Guan Eng/Facebook and TIMAH/Instagram