KUALA LUMPUR, July 23 — The Housing and Local Government Ministry said today it agreed there was a need to review the sale of alcoholic beverages in grocery stores throughout the country.
Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Abd Mutalib (BN-Maran) said the ministry has also issued instruction letters on June 9 informing all state governments to identify special premises involved in the sale of alcoholic beverages and to heighten enforcement efforts to curb the negative effects of alcohol consumption within the community.
He was responding to Datuk Mohd Azis bin Jamman (Warisan-Sepanggar) who asked during Question Time in Parliament to state whether the ministry will review the sale of alcoholic drinks at the grocery stores.
“For the honourable member’s information, the ministry through local authorities only issues business premises licence under the Trade, Business and Industrial Licensing Bylaw after said licences fulfil the conditions set by the state government, district office, Royal Malaysia Police and the Customs Department.
“As the honourable member was informed, the licensing for the sale of alcoholic beverages falls under the jurisdiction of the Customs Department of Malaysia. However, the ministry is of the opinion that there is a need to review the sale of alcoholic beverages in grocery stores given that liquors bring more negative effects compared to positive effects to the community,” he told the Dewan Rakyat today.
He earlier explained that the sale of alcoholic beverages in the country is subjected to the Customs Act and Excise Act which is under the jurisdiction of the Customs Department, Finance Ministry.
Ismail also pointed out that there were existing special committees within each district office under the respective local authorities to thoroughly vet each licence application.
He said this when Aziz pressed him further for steps the government has taken to ensure grocery store owners complied with the stipulated rules and regulations.
“I admit that the consequences from liquor or alcohol consumption is detrimental to society.
“That is why if you see from the Islamic point of view, it is clear that alcohol is haram and thus not allowed to be consumed by Muslims. I am sure other religions also disagree with the adverse effects from those involved in accidents after consuming alcohol,” he added.
To a supplementary question from Shaharizukarnain Abdul Kadir (PAS-Setiu) on whether the government would consider forming a new special team to ensure compliance with the law, Ismail said the government welcomed the suggestion as the matter on alcohol consumption needed to be given serious attention.
Drink driving has recently become a hot topic again in Malaysia, following a spate of fatal road accidents involving drivers suspected of driving while intoxicated with alcohol.
Recently, the Cabinet has given its approval in principle to amend Sections 41 to 45 of the Road Transport Act, allowing for harsher penalties against those found to be driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.