KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 — The city’s seven MPs have urged Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim to withdraw the liquor sale ban imposed on sundry shops and Chinese medicine halls in Kuala Lumpur.
In a statement, the seven said that the move to ban sundry shops and Chinese medicine halls from selling liquor was inconsistent with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s Keluarga Malaysia concept of inclusiveness.
Instead, they said the ban portrayed Malaysia as intolerant and disrespectful of non-Muslim rights.
“We the Members of Parliament in Kuala Lumpur are deeply disappointed and angry with Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim’s decision to allow Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to ban liquor sales in sundry shops and Chinese medicine halls in Kuala Lumpur effective 1 November 2021.
“We are of the opinion that such a sales ban which is carried out for the first time in the history of Kuala Lumpur is unreasonable and unjustifiable,” they said.
The seven MPs who signed the statement are Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai, Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok, Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng, Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, Wangsa Maju MP Datin Paduka Dr Tan Yee Kew and Batu MP Prabakaran Parameswaran.
They said Shahidan should not have approved DBKL’s ban on liquor sales as this decision is unfair to non-Muslims, as they are normally sold in shops and outfits that are run by non-Muslims.
“DBKL’s decision and the FT minister’s approval for such an arbitrary ban is an abomination and a direct assault on the business and consumers’ rights of non-Muslims. Why target the non-Muslim community?
“Isn’t this a violation of the rights of non-Muslims as equal citizens as provided for by the Federal Constitution? Such a blanket ban in Kuala Lumpur is a blatant affront on non-Muslims and it contravenes the spirit of Keluarga Malaysia (Malaysian Family) propagated by the Prime Minister,” they said.
They reminded Shahidan that sundry shops and Chinese medicine halls in Kuala Lumpur are small and medium businesses with low profit margins, and the sale of liquor to non-Muslims in these shops was a major source of revenue for them.
“These law-abiding shops pay various licences to DBKL and the federal government every year. The Associated Liquor Merchants Association of Malaysia (ALMA) estimated that such a ban will hurt their business badly, including reducing RM50 million of the revenues of the sundry shops in Kuala Lumpur.
“The DBKL and the Federal Government should instead assist these small businesses and not impose cruel restrictions on them, especially during these difficult times when everyone is badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic,” they 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.
In November last year, Chinese medicine hall and sundry shop proprietors had anticipated dark days ahead over the liquor sales restriction that would see their dwindling revenue further diminish.
Initially set to be enforced on October 1 this year, the ban was postponed for a month.