FT minister promises to ‘find out more’ after silence from authorities over confusing alcohol sale policy

Yiswaree Palansamy
·3-min read
Tan Sri Annuar Musa speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya January 6, 2021.  — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Tan Sri Annuar Musa speaks during a press conference in Putrajaya January 6, 2021. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 — Tan Sri Annuar Musa has given his word that he’ll be looking into the confusion over alcoholic beverages served at licensed restaurants during the movement control order (MCO).

The Federal Territories minister who also oversees the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) was contacted this evening for clarification on the government’s policy regarding the sale of alcohol after city police officers stopped several restaurants from serving the drinks last Friday only to make a reversal several hours later.

“If it’s the police who prohibited, then that is an NSC order and it would be best for Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to clarify,” Annuar told Malay Mail, referring to the National Security Council in charge of deciding the regulations during the MCO and Covid-19 Emergency.

Ismail Sabri is the defence minister and has been the NSC spokesman on matters related to Covid-19 security.

“If it’s DBKL enforced, that is related to the local government. I will find out more,” Annuar added.

Last Friday, officers from the Pantai police station were reported to have ordered restaurateurs along Jalan Telawi in Bangsar to stop serving alcohol and close their bars or risk being fined RM1,000 per customer and operator under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988, only to reverse the order a few hours later.

The Restaurant and Pub Owners Association (PPRB) today asked the government and law enforcers for a dialogue to iron out issues concerning the confusing policy, likening the police action to “criminalising business operators”.

It pointed out that the latest list of regulations for entertainment establishments issued by the NSC dated February 18 did not ban the sale of alcoholic beverages within restaurants.

The MCO currently only applies to Johor, Penang, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur from February 19 to March 4.

Under the latest set of MCO regulations made by Health Minister Datuk Seri Adham Baba and gazetted on February 18, “activities in pubs and nightclubs including restaurant business in pubs and nightclubs” remain a prohibited activity. There are three categories of prohibited activities in the second schedule of the regulations.

This item is also listed as one of three categories of prohibited activity in the government’s latest February 18 gazetted regulations for areas under the recovery movement control order (RMCO) in Perlis and to the conditional movement control order (CMCO) applicable to the rest of Malaysia.

This item has also been listed in previous editions of such regulations, along with outbound tour activities by Malaysians and inbound tour activities involving foreign tourists entering Malaysia except for foreign tourists from countries specified by the minister, and “any activity with many people in attendance at a place making it difficult to carry out social distancing and to comply with the directions of the director general”.

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