When it comes to branding, names and images are very important. After all, it’s what makes the brand unique and helps it stand out to customers. However, local whiskey company Timah did not anticipate the issues they would have.
Penang Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Wan Salim Wan Noor called for a ban on the company after citing that Timah’s name and image was an insult to Muslims. Needless to say, several citizens have spoken up in defense of Timah, including comedian Douglas Lim and human rights lawyer Siti Kasim.
The controversy began on Monday (18th October), after a statement from Wan Salim. The religious leader claimed the name “Timah” was derived from “Fatimah”. In addition to that, “Fatimah” was the name of Prophet Muhammad’s daughter. Wan Salim also found fault with the company’s image, which was supposedly the picture of a religious man in a beard and skullcap. He asked for a name change as the brand name and image may “trigger the sensitivity of Muslims in the country“.
The company has since explained their side of things in a Facebook post. According to the post, the name Timah stands for the Malay word for ‘tin’. The name supposedly harks back to the mining tin era. As for their brand image, the man is not a religious person. The company clarified that it was a person named Captain Speedy, who was one of the men who introduced whiskey culture.
Their explanation has won over many Malaysians, both Muslim and non-Muslim. One such supporter is human rights lawyer Siti Kasim. Siti pointed out that there were companies in other religious countries who had no qualms about mixing religious images with alcohol.
One example given was Arak Abu Nuwas by Haddad Distilleries in Jordan. The drink is named after a “weird drunk poet” who was known as a Hafiz (had memorised the Quran). Siti also pointed out the Arabic characters printed on the bottles and the blatant depiction of a religious man.
Local comedian Douglas Lim also took to Facebook to air his views about the matter. He illuminated how ridiculous the issue was with an exaggerated joke. “CanSino (China’s vaccine) looks like Casino. This might also confuse people,” he quipped. “I demand (a) name change in 14 days.” Many netizens joined in on the joke, with several offering up more examples of their own such as hotdogs and Superman.
Whether “Timah” stands for tin or a nickname, it certainly doesn’t seem fair to the company. Although netizens have been offering support by buying out their stocks, their future still seems uncertain. We hope they will manage to pull past this issue!