Pakatan MPs throw scorn at FT minister for ‘passing the buck’ on KL liquor sale ban

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Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim speaks during Question Time at the Dewan Negara sitting today, October 7, 2021. ― Bernama pic
Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim speaks during Question Time at the Dewan Negara sitting today, October 7, 2021. ― Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 — Seven Kuala Lumpur MPs have called out Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim for absolving himself of the city’s ongoing liquor sale ban controversy.

They said Shahidan should not blame the Excise Licensing Board for the ban on the sale of hard liquor at SMEs and Chinese medicine halls in Kuala Lumpur when it falls under the purview of his ministry.

“We are appalled that Shahidan chose to pass the buck to the Excise Licensing Board instead of telling the truth and help resolve the situation by reversing the ban.

“In fact, this Excise Licensing Board is a government agency under Shahidan’s ministry. This means the Minister has the power to change or amend any wrong decisions,” they said.

The MPs are Tan Kok Wai (DAP-Cheras), Teresa Kok (DAP-Seputeh), Fong Kui Lun (DAP-Bukit Bintang), Datin Tan Yee Kew (PKR-Wangsa Maju), Hannah Yeoh (DAP-Segambut), Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Kepong) and P. Prabakaran (PKR-Batu).

The MPs said they had been engaging with Shahidan on this issue since he became minister, adding that he knew the situation very well.

He had reportedly promised a win-win solution; however, on November 1, the directive issued by DBKL’s Licensing and Business Development Department of DBKL prohibiting the sale of hard liquor at all convenience stores, grocery stores and Chinese medicine halls came into effect.

With the ban enforced, the MPs noted that business owners would suffer in terms of their revenue and such an arbitrary ban was an assault on the business and consumers rights of non-Muslims.

Apart from encouraging the illegal trade of hard liquor, the online sale of alcohol will also blossom, they argued.

“On top of that, such a ban on liquor sales will create resentment of non-Muslims toward the government and further create disharmony between Muslims and non-Muslims, not only in Kuala Lumpur but also throughout Malaysia.

“We urge Shahidan to stop playing racial and religious politics by banning liquor sales in the sundry shops and Chinese medicine halls in Kuala Lumpur. He is the minister for all Malaysians, and not for Muslims only,” they said.

Under the new prohibition, beer will still be allowed to be sold although only between 7am and 9pm, and placed away from other beverages.

The ruling also states that businesses in front of police stations, places of worship, schools and hospitals may not sell alcohol.

At present, businesses that are allowed to sell alcohol include restaurants, pubs, bars, hotels, commercial complexes, warehouses, supermarkets and hypermarkets. These places are also allowed to hold promotional activities that serve liquor.

In November last year, Chinese medicine hall and sundry shop proprietors had anticipated dark days ahead over the hard liquor sale restriction that would see their dwindling revenue further diminished.

Initially set to be enforced on October 1 this year, the ban was postponed for a month.

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