Deputy minister defends beer sales licence for coffee shops, says same as neighbouring countries

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Deputy Finance Minister I Mohd Shahar Abdullah speaks during the winding-up session of the 12th Malaysia Plan in the Dewan Rakyat October 5, 2021. — Bernama pic
Deputy Finance Minister I Mohd Shahar Abdullah speaks during the winding-up session of the 12th Malaysia Plan in the Dewan Rakyat October 5, 2021. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 6 — A deputy minister has justified the enforcement of a policy requiring coffee shops to apply for a licence specifically to sell beer from January 1 onwards.

Deputy Finance Minister 1 Mohd Shahar Abdullah said this in a parliamentary response to Teluk Intan MP Nga Kor Ming on the imposition of the requirement, to be enforced by the Royal Malaysian Customs Department under the Excise Regulations 1977 beginning January 2022.

Defending the move, Mohd Shahar said it was not extraordinary or unique to Malaysia.

“This is not standard convention in Malaysia alone but also practiced throughout other countries including our neighbours as well,” Mohd Shahar had replied briefly.

Earlier, Nga had asked Mohd Shahar why such a policy was to be enforced when the people were still facing hardships, saying the rule would lead to unnecessary bureaucracy and cost.

The lawmaker pointed out that the requirement has never been enforced despite having existed since 1977.

“All coffee shops selling beer are required to apply for a separate licence. Now, to open a new coffee shop one has to apply for a business licence, a signboard licence and now even a beer licence, so just how many licences are needed to sell a coffee?

Nga claimed that each licence to sell beer would cost coffee shops RM1,340.

“So these costs will be passed on to consumers and contribute to price hikes which have gotten worse. So the question I want to ask is, why when everyone is suffering, we want to have added bureaucracy which results in the people paying the consequences?” Nga had asked.

DAP’s Lim Guan Eng yesterday questioned the government’s motive in enforcing limitations and new regulations on coffee shops selling alcohol, and whether such decisions were a sign of PAS’ extremist policies being upheld.

The Bagan MP said in a statement how a supposed move to compel coffee shop owners to obtain an alcohol licence before selling beer to non-Muslim patrons does not only incur additional costs for the business owners but also interferes with the practices and lifestyle of non-Muslims.

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