GEORGE TOWN, June 19 — The Malaysian Anti-Cheap Liquor Movement today called for a full ban on all liquor priced below RM50 following reports of deaths linked to the consumption of tainted alcoholic drinks.
The group also wants the government to cancel all liquor licences issued to sundry stores.
“By banning liquor priced below RM50, it will reduce the consumption of liquor,” its chief coordinator P. David Marshel said in a statement.
He added that it was now very easy for anyone, including minors, to buy cheap liquor with some booze retailing for as little as RM5 in the country.
“Liquor should only be sold in designated premises and not in sundry stores,” he said.
He said enforcement would be easier by limiting the sale of liquor to designated shops.
“Now, we can see liquor being sold alongside daily grocery items in sundry shops everywhere which makes it easily accessible to everyone,” he said.
David was responding to the latest alcohol poisoning incident from beer tainted with methanol that resulted in four deaths and one person blinded in Johor, following six recent deaths in Penang and five others in Perak.
He accused the government of not being aggressive enough in stopping the sale of cheap and bootleg liquor.
“Deaths are reported almost each month due to cheap liquor,” he claimed.
He also expressed disappointment with the Health Ministry, claiming it was not serious enough about controlling the sale of cheap liquor.
David also said it has been three years since the Health Ministry amended the Food Act 1983 that tightened the sale of alcohol, but was lax in enforcement.
The new conditions only allowed the sale of larger bottles of alcohol and each bottle must have labels warning consumers of the dangers of alcohol consumption.
David said the new regulations should have been enforced from December 1, 2017 but claimed it was postponed due to appeals by the Alcohol Bottlers and Suppliers Association Malaysia.
“Even after about 60 deaths were recorded, the new conditions were supposed to be enforced on May 1 this year but once again, it was postponed to September 1,” he said.
He is sceptical that the government will implement the new conditions on September 1 without postponing it yet again.
He said the government has given liquor manufacturers and bottlers ample time to adhere to the new conditions so it should not postpone enforcement yet again.
He said the victims were not only foreign workers as some were also Malaysians.
The group will be writing to the health minister to set a meeting on this issue as soon as possible.