Seputeh MP: ‘Illogical’ of FT minister to suggest businesses become supermarkets to circumvent KL’s hard liquor ban

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Seputeh MP Teresa Kok said suggestion by the Federal Territories Ministry for grocery stores, convenience stores and Chinese medicine halls to change their business status to a supermarket in order to circumvent DBKL’s hard liquor ban controversy is patently absurd. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Seputeh MP Teresa Kok said suggestion by the Federal Territories Ministry for grocery stores, convenience stores and Chinese medicine halls to change their business status to a supermarket in order to circumvent DBKL’s hard liquor ban controversy is patently absurd. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — The suggestion by the Federal Territories Ministry for grocery stores, convenience stores and Chinese medicine halls to change their business status to a supermarket in order to circumvent Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) hard liquor ban controversy is patently absurd, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

During her debate on Budget 2022, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok said she was informed of the suggestion by representatives of business stakeholders and Malaysia’s Associated Liquor Merchants Association (ALMA), following their recent meeting with Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim several days ago.

In the meeting, Shahidan reportedly told the representatives to apply to the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) to have their current business entity status changed to a supermarket if they wished to continue selling liquor after the prohibition came into effect on November 1.

“I was made to understand that Yang Berhormat Arau, the Federal Territories minister had a meeting with ALMA and business representatives several days ago and the minister had suggested to those present to make an application to CCM to have their shop status changed to a supermarket since the sale of liquor is allowed in supermarkets under DBKL’s guideline.

“The proposal is utterly illogical. This would mean that many of the grocery stores in Kuala Lumpur in the future will be ‘promoted’ to supermarkets.

“If the liquor ban guideline is found to be unsuitable, revoke it, and not ask these businesses to change their status to a supermarket,” she said.

Kok also noted that Shahidan sought to absolve himself by stating that the prohibition was issued by the excise Licensing Board of the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur (ELBKL) and not his doing.

To which she then implored the minister to terminate the board members for approving such a “nonsensical” decision.

“I would like to suggest to the minister to fire all of the board members for failing to understand the liquor sale industry and going ahead with such a controversial decision by tarnishing the name of the minister himself and the ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ slogan touted by the government,” she 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, hypermarkets. These places are also allowed to hold promotional activities that serve liquor.

Kok, along with several other city MPs, has in recent weeks urged DBKL and the ministry to reverse the decision as the ruling was inconsistent with the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s “Keluarga Malaysia” concept.

They alleged the prohibition to be an attempt by the government to obstruct the rights of businesses from operating effectively and disrespectful to the cultures of non-Muslims who moderately consume hard liquor for either health or culinary purposes.

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