Liquor licensing decisions should not be left to state governments, says Guan Eng

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The DAP secretary-general said he had received a similar response to Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong with regards to MOF not imposing liquor licence requirements, but instead letting the states decide. — Picture by Hari Anggara
The DAP secretary-general said he had received a similar response to Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong with regards to MOF not imposing liquor licence requirements, but instead letting the states decide. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 7 — The Ministry of Finance (MOF) should exercise its powers and ensure coffee shops and retail outlets are not subject to liquor licences the likes of which have never been imposed before, says Lim Guan Eng.

The DAP secretary-general said he had received a similar response to Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong with regards to MOF not imposing liquor licence requirements, but instead letting the states decide.

Lim said this was a bad idea as states under Islamist parties like PAS would most likely impose new rules and further burden already ailing businesses with unwanted levies.

“Even though MOF has revoked the ruling of selling beer as requiring an alcohol licence, there is nothing to stop the state government from doing so because MOF is letting the state licensing authority decide.

“For MOF not to exercise its power but recommend that it is up to the state licensing authority may result in some state governments deciding to impose licensing of selling beer as alcohol with license fees of up to RM1,300,” Lim said in a statement today.

“Whilst this may not be a concern in Pakatan Harapan-controlled state governments, this may pose a problem for other state governments, especially those administered by the extremist PAS. Witness Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur that imposed bans on sundry shops and Chinese medicine halls selling alcohol.”

Earlier today, Wee, who is also MCA president, posted a statement in Chinese on his Facebook page claiming he had met and discussed the liquor licence issue with Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz, after which the latter had ordered the Customs Department to cancel all requirements for such licences.

Lim however questioned why Wee posted the statement only in Chinese, adding that the response Wee gave was similar to the one he had received from the MOF; therefore, it contained nothing new.

He said in recent letters dated August 16 and September 8, 2021, the Customs Department recommended that the licensing of beer as alcohol be required under the 1976 Excise Act.

“The Customs director-general even stated that after getting the views of the Finance Ministry, enforcement action will be taken under the Excise Act on the selling of beer in coffee shops and restaurants that must be licensed as alcohol,” said the MP for Bagan.

“DAP urges the federal government to revert to the previous position that automatically permits coffee shops and restaurants to continue selling beer without paying an alcohol licence fee of up to RM1,300.”

In Kuala Lumpur, the ban on selling liquor at grocers, convenience stores and Chinese medical halls was enforced on November 1.

While customers can still purchase beer at such premises, they can only be sold from 7am to 9pm.

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