Bangsar supermarket TMC still in limbo, unsure when can reopen liquor section after cops’ MCO raid

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TMC Warehouse in Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur June 4, 2021. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
TMC Warehouse in Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur June 4, 2021. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 — A local supermarket in Bangsar is still awaiting the authorities’ green light on whether it can resume selling alcoholic beverages and liquor after a surprise raid by the police yesterday that caused it to close down a section.

Shocked by the visit, staff at TMC’s wine section said the supermarket was struck by confusion, even as staff themselves were not sure why it was directed to immediately shut down its premise.

“We were told to shut the entrance and the connecting link from the butchery to the wine section.

“Even the customers were chased out, it was quite unpleasant, what happened,” the staff who requested anonymity said.

In fear of a fine issued to the management of the supermarket, the staff said they have decided to keep the shutters down until further notice.

“Without the sales of alcoholic beverages, it will definitely affect our sales.

“TMC is quite popular for its selection and we cater to many in this area,” said the staff.

The staff added that there seems to be no clear direction from authorities on the standard operating procedures (SOP) for supermarkets which sold alcoholic beverages apart from what was announced earlier that breweries are not allowed to be in operation throughout the full lockdown which started on June 1.

Yesterday when the incident took place, photos of the supermarket were circulated on social media.

The matter caught attention, sending many retailers questioning the inconsistency in SOPs.

Staff arranging bottles of alcohol at Village Grocer in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, June 4, 2021. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Staff arranging bottles of alcohol at Village Grocer in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur, June 4, 2021. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

Similarly, the same surprise visit greeted Village Grocer in Bangsar Village, where their staff too was told to shut the wine section.

According to the supermarket’s manager on site, it was however allowed to reopen today.

“We got a call yesterday telling us that we could reopen. So we think it was all a misunderstanding,” the manager only known as Chong said.

Another staff at the grocer said there could be confusion between two parties, one being the ministry in charge of this area and the other, the National Security Council (NSC)

“There could be two contradictory messages sent out from the ministry (Ministry of International Trade and Industry) and the NSC that is causing this confusion, one said we can sell and the other (NSC) said we cannot,” the staff said.

On June 1, Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said all factories producing alcohol in Malaysia must close immediately and cannot operate during the total lockdown.

Ismail Sabri noted that all manufacturing sectors are to be closed during the total lockdown except for 12 categories allowed to operate, but said that alcoholic drinks are not considered as essential products.

However this does not state that premises were disallowed from selling alcoholic beverages.

During the previous two MCOs, there was no such SOP while all supermarkets and convenience stores were not banned from selling alcoholic beverages throughout the period of MCO.

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