KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — The new 2021 liquor licence guidelines set by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) have been met with pushback from business groups, who said restrictions on sales will not only negatively impact them but also the government’s revenue.

Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Wine and Spirit Chinese Dealers Association secretary Albert Chooi Leong Peow said this move will not just hurt businesses, but the government’s tax income as well, Malaysiakini reported today.

“If they don’t release the licences, how do we make a living? And that also means the government will not get taxes,” Chooi was quoted saying.

Chooi, who is also the Associated Liquor Merchants Association secretary-general, said other than the loss of tax revenue, further restricting the sale of liquor could also contribute to an increase in smuggled spirits, calling the move by DBKL regressive.

“Alcohol is sold in almost every capital city in the world. Why are we going backwards?” he asked.

Chooi said the liquor merchants associations will be holding meetings soon and discuss the new guidelines with the elected representatives before approaching DBKL with their grievances.

Federation of Sundry Goods Merchants Association president Hong Chee Meng voiced a similar opinion, saying every business is now struggling to stay afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The policy, which is currently implemented within Kuala Lumpur, may not severely affect the country [now], but what if the authorities extend it to the entire country one day? The tax revenue will be reduced and it is definitely a loss for Malaysia,” Hong was quoted saying.

Yesterday, the Federal Territories chapter of DAP slammed DBKL’s latest ruling in restricting liquor sales, with national chairman and Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai saying the new ruling violated the constitutional rights of non-Muslims.

DBKL’s new guideline states that from October 1, 2021, sundry shops, convenience stores and Chinese medicine shops in Malaysia’s capital city will no longer be allowed to sell hard liquor.

Other conditions include prohibiting stores that sell hard liquor from facing police stations, schools, hospitals, or places of worship.