Weekly Highlights

No real revocation on alcohol licensing

Will Wee Ka Siong Assume Full Responsibility If Any State Licensing Authority Imposes Alcohol Licensing For The Selling Of Beer By Coffee Shops And Restaurants?

Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong’s claim that the Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz’s willingness to revoke the Customs Department policy requiring restaurants and coffee shops selling beer/stout must obtain an alcohol license with fees of up to RM1,300, has resolved the issue begs the question.

Will Wee Ka Siong assume full responsibility if any state licensing authority imposes alcohol licensing for the selling of beer by coffee shops and restaurants?

This so-called revocation of requiring licensing for sale of beer announced by Wee is no revocation at all because the decision whether to impose licensing fees of up to RM1,300 is now given to the state government’s licensing authority. This is different from the current position where the Finance Ministry makes the same recommendation that was made for the last 45 years under the 1976 Excise Act that there was no need to license the sale of beer as alcohol.

If Wee claims that the issue is resolved, then the Finance Minister (pictured) should announce that the decision whether to impose licensing on sale of beer should not be surrendered to the respective state licensing authority but must revert back to the previous position for the last 45 years.

Clearly, this is a Federal power exercised by the Finance Minister because selling liquor without a license can be fined RM50,000 under the 1976 Excise Act and not under state laws.

Why give power to the state licensing authority which was not there? By surrendering his powers to the respective state government is an abdication of responsibility to exercise power over what is within the purview of the Finance Ministry.

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For PH-controlled states like Selangor, the restaurant and coffee shop operators are safe but what about other state governments deeply influenced by PAS extremist policies that adversely affect the customary lifestyle and normal business practices of non-Muslims.

Even Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur banned sundry shops, convenience stores and Chinese medicine halls from selling liquor which had been sold undisturbed since Merdeka in 1957 even though DBKL knows that this is sold only to non-Muslims.

For this reason, at a meeting with the association KL-Selangor Coffee Shops and Restaurant operators yesterday, reiterated their position that the Federal government must revert to the previous position that automatically permits coffee shops and restaurants to continue to sell beer without paying fees of alcohol license up to RM1,300.

Wee’s acceptance of letting state licensing authorities to decide is irresponsible and unacceptable to restaurant and coffee shop operators because beer sales which were never required to be licensed before, now may be subject to some state governments imposing licensing fees.

Lim Guan Eng

DAP Secretary-General

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