Are the new guidelines governing the sale of liquor in Kuala Lumpur, a not-so-subtle smokescreen to undermine the rights of non-Muslim Malaysians?
The decision by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL), to ban the sale of liquor in sundry shops, convenience stores and traditional Chinese medicinal halls, from 1 October next year, is confusing and puzzling.
The DBKL Facebook post claimed that after consulting the various stakeholders, the goal was “to control the accessibility and consumption of liquor products while ensuring the health and safety of the city’s denizens.”
The groups who were consulted were the Federal Territories Ministry, Health Ministry, Royal Customs Department, the police, Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research, Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department, stakeholders, and various NGOs.
Why was the Islamic Department consulted for sales of alcohol? This is like asking eunuchs to rate brothels.
Does this mean that the health of the residents of KL is more important than those who live outside KL?
Or will this ban start off in KL before it is gradually introduced throughout the nation? What will the people in Sarawak and Sabah, think of this ban?
If health was a major consideration for the ban, why have none of the people who were consulted, suggested that cigarettes be banned? Smoking causes various cancers like lung and throat, emphysema, heart disease and strokes.
Sugar is another contributor to ill-health, and is a major cause of diseases, like diabetes. Will the government dare impose a sugar tax to restrictthe consumption of sugar? Isn’t Malaysia known as the nation with the most obese people in Asia?
DBKL said that they wanted to ensure the safety of the people of KL. Drink driving is a major concern, but it needs more strict and consistent enforcement, not more guidelines or rules, on liquor sales.
More deaths are caused by mat rempits on their kapcais, which are not road taxed, or have been modified to race, and whose owners fail to register their vehicles or have them insured.
The same goes for cars and lorry drivers. Many are not insured, some drivers do not have a valid driving licence and few know the highway code. These people cause more traffic deaths than drunk drivers.
What about people who take drugs and drive? They cause many deaths on our roads.
Revenue from business tax
The authorities need to inform us how much tax is collected from the sales of alcohol. How will the Ministry of Finance make up for the shortfall in tax, if businesses which sell liquor, can no longer contribute to the treasury?
If the sale of liquor is restricted, the trade will go underground. There will be an increase in the smuggling of alcohol. There will also be a rise in moonshine production. Unscrupulous people will manufacture cheap alcohol and sell it illegally by using industrial grade alcohol (methanol) to adulterate their moonshine. This will cause more people to fall ill, become blind or die.
People who make or sell liquor illegally do not pay taxes. Corrupt officials will profit from closing one eye to manufacturers of moonshine, sellers, bootleggers and smugglers.
Small businesses: Backbone of the economy.
Only non-Malay businesses can sell liquor.
Is the government cutting off its nose to spite its face? The move is self-destructive. It will do more harm to the economy, especially now that we are suffering from the effects of the Coronavirus pandemic and a world economic recession. These businesses pay tax to the government. The move will only hasten the closure of more small shops.
The smaller shops and Chinese medicine shops depend on the sales of liquor to boost their already reduced income. With the Coronavirus pandemic, these shops are alrady suffering. Why is DBKL adding to their woes? Where is the support of small businesses?
Bigger shops like the supermarkets can weather the restricted liquor sales, but apparently, these shops will not be covered by the recent guidelines? Why is the treasury forming a stranglehold on the smaller businesses?
What is the future of tuak and tapai in the newly emerging Talibanised nation we call home?
The DBKL, working closely with the Islamic Departments has already undermined the non-Malay/Muslim Malaysians from enjoying the Oktoberfest, Valentine’s Day and other festivals. Will gawai and Tamaatan (the Sabah harvest festival) be next on the list? Will the Malay dessert, tapai, be next on the list of bans?
Will bars, pubs and nightclubs be the next places to be subject to new liquor guidelines? Are we slowly becoming a Talibanised nation?
If the authorities want to protect Malaysians from the dangers of alcohol abuse, they should try educating the public instead of punishing small businesses.