KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 — The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) said today that restricting liquor sales at convenience stores will hurt small businesses, as it joins a growing chorus of protest against the new regulation.

The group criticised the policy as detrimental to small traders who are still reeling from the Covid-19 pandemic’s effects.

It also claimed the move would tarnish the capital city’s cosmopolitan image and deter investors, who would likely see the alcohol sale prohibition as a sign of creeping intolerance.

“KLSCAH emphasised that Kuala Lumpur is an international metropolis, and that DBKL should implement a policy that conforms to the international outlook of businesses to fully demonstrate the metropolitan spirit of multicultural harmony and co-prosperity,” their statement read.

“The new liquor sales policy undoubtedly runs to counter this, as well as violate the rights of non-Muslims. Moreover, domestic economic activities have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic,” the group added.

“As the capital of this country, any form of prohibition measures will have a major impact. Once the policy is in effect, it will hit the national and federal level economic development, and the gain is not worth the loss.”

The Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) has come under fire as critics call a new regulation that would soon prohibit convenience, sundry and grocery stores in the capital city from selling hard liquor an infringement on minority rights.

Convenience stores, sundry and grocery as well as Chinese medicine shops in Kuala Lumpur will be prohibited from selling hard liquor starting October 1 next year, under a new policy that DBKL said is aimed at curbing alcohol-related problems, especially drunk-driving.

But some exceptions will apply. Pure or mixed liquor products in traditional medicine will be exempt from this ruling and beer will still be allowed to be sold at these premises, although only between 7am to 9pm.

The beers must also be placed separately from other beverages.

Detractors, like the opposition party the DAP, have called the move a violation of the Constitutional guarantee that upholds cultural and religious diversity, and its leaders have since demanded more consultation.

KLSCAH echoed the view. It suggested DBKL conduct multi-faceted interviews, investigations and consultations with representatives of liquor merchants and sundry shops in Kuala Lumpur and readjust guidelines deemed unfair to liquor vendors.

It then raised questions about some aspects of the proposed regulation. For example, the new rule did not state clearly what types of liquor cannot be sold, even when it allows the sale of alcohol-containing medicinal liquors used for medicinal purposes.

“The new guidelines should only then be implemented after the readjustments,” the group said.