SPEECH BY CHIEF MINISTER OF PENANG AT THE LAUNCHING OF THE 45TH PENANG OKTOBERFEST 2017
ON 14 OCTOBER, 2017
H.E. Nikolas Graf Lambsdorff, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Malaysia
Dato’ Hans Peter Brenner, Honorary Consul of the Federal Republic of Germany,
State EXCO Members,
Representatives from Embassies, Consulates Offices and High Commissions
Dear fellow Malaysian and German friends, I’m happy to see all of you again to celebrate the annual Oktoberfest. Despite all the unfriendly noise towards this traditional German Festival that is happening in some other states, I’m glad that in Penang where our German community came here over hundred years ago, does not have to face this intimidation and is able to freely continue to celebrate their festival with our locals.
This evening, we are here to cherish the spirit of brotherhood and togetherness and I want to thank the Malaysian-German Society for organizing this festival in Penang continuously for the last 45 years, the longest in our country’s history. I want to congratulate the joint efforts between Germans and Malaysians working together as a team to continue this annual celebration without fear and let everyone knows there is no place for racial and religious extremism in Penang.
The German Oktoberfest festival has been held for several years in Malaysia without attracting any controversy. Unfortunately certain extremists have seen an opportunity to gain support for the coming general elections amongst conservative voters by seeking to ban Oktoberfest. These extremists do not care that only non-Muslims drink, not Muslims.
Why ban Oktoberfest when Penang has been holding this for the last 45 years without incident? If you want to ban, ban poverty, ban extremism, ban discrimination, ban racism, ban double standards and hypocrisy, ban ignorance or ban corruption. We do not force anyone to drink. Why then should you force Germans and Malaysians especially non-Muslims not to drink?
These extremists may have succeeded in banning Oktoberfest in Selangor or Kuala Lumpur but they will never succeed in Penang. Penang is not keen in banning `this or that’ which interferes in Malaysians’ traditional freedom. We are no Taliban state. The fact that Oktoberfest continues as it has been every year will rebut the lies of those who claims that either Oktoberfest in Penang is banned or the name has changed. Nothing can be further from the truth.
The state government also wishes to thank the police for maintaining safety and security here and in Penang. Despite threats by extremists, we have shown that by standing together we can defeat these extremists who threaten us. Let us stand for diversity, moderation, harmony in a multi-cultural society and mutual respect of different faiths. The police has done their job by ensuring that these extremists do not disrupt our way of life. Malaysia just celebrated our 60th independence anniversary. Only in Penang can you still enjoy the freedoms promised to us under the Merdeka Constitution 60 years ago.
I also like to encourage you all to learn from one another the good values from each culture and continue to meet through the social, cultural and language learning activities organized by MGS at this spacious premise here, provided by the Penang government. We want to thank the German Ambassador who is here with us.
Finally, let me thank the organizing committee and all parties involved for the hard work to arrange this celebration and wish you all having a great time this evening of German culture and entertainments.
Vielen dank, Terima kasih, Xie-Xie, Nandri and Thank you !