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Malaysian officials to deny entry to tourists for beer festival

The Immigration Department is collaborating with the police and Malaysia Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to obtain information about individuals who are likely to be entering Malaysia for The Better Beer Festival 2017 and a rumoured White Party, targetted at the homosexual community.

According to Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali, these individuals would be “red-flagged in the system, and served with the ‘Not To Land’ notice” upon landing in Malaysia, The Star wrote. He added that the Immigration Department will be firm in denying the entry of those party-goers as the beer festival and gay party is “against [the] country’s culture”.

The announcement comes after The Better Beer 2017 event, originally slated to happen on 6 and 7 October at Publika, was cancelled last week. The cancellation is expected to affect the huge lineup of partners and sponsors of The Better Beer 2017, also dubbed Malaysia’s largest craft beer festival. PAS central committee member Riduan Mohd Nor spoke against the event, calling it a pesta maksiat (vice party).

Meanwhile, producer of White Party Bangkok, Cloud 9 Inc, clarified rumours and said the company “has no intention of bringing the event to Malaysia” and that the festival will only be held in Bangkok, according to the New Straits Times.

The statement quelled online rumours of the gay festival supposedly coming to Malaysia. According to The Star, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the White Party will be an “illegal gathering” if such an event were to be held in Malaysia.

A+M has reached out to Cloud 9 Inc for comment.

Weighing in on the issue is Joseph Baladi, brand consultant and former CEO of BrandAsian, who said that Malaysia is considered by most outsiders to be more conservative than progressive, and that the latest move will only support and reinforce that belief.

“Whether the country takes a ‘hit’ because of this is arguable. Since few people believe that the country is on a successful road to progressiveness there is effectively nothing there to hit. But it certainly doesn’t help,” Baladi added.

Nick Foley, president for Southeast Asia Pacific and Japan for Landor, said very few people head to Malaysia in search of beer and the country does not have a national beer brand. Hence, anyone seeking an engaging beer festival would be unlikely to have Malaysia on their list.

Foley added that if Malaysia’s strict stance on the Better Beer Festival 2017 is assessed purely on the merits of the congregation of beer lovers gathering in the nation to appreciate the best that Malaysia’s brewers has to offer, then it is a non-event and will not have any noticeable effect on people visiting the country. However, this issue is perhaps more complex than what it first seems, Foley said, as the White Party, targeted at the LGBT community, is set to coincide with the Better Beer Festival.

“If this is true, then the government’s stance on the matter may deter a number of cashed-up tourists visiting Malaysia. Ultimately, this is a matter for the Malaysian government to make a call on given the impact on tourism in the future could be significant,” he said.

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