The government has made a u-turn and revoked its decision to allow Heineken Malaysia Bhd and Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Bhd to continue their operations during the movement control order (MCO).
Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the approval for the breweries to continue was revoked during a special cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin.
“The International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) will issue a letter of revocation immediately.
“Therefore, the issue no longer arises about Heineken and Carlsberg’s operations,” he told a press conference on Monday (April 6).
On March 24, Heineken suspended operations of its brewery in Petaling Jaya due to the MCO that was in force.
However, on Sunday (April 5), it obtained approval from the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs
Ministry to resume limited operations with a minimal number of essential workers during the MCO. “The whole of yesterday, social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp groups and many more were questioning why the Heineken and Carlsberg factories were still allowed to be open.
“Today, after a special Cabinet meeting headed by the prime minister, we decided to revoke their permits,” said Ismail.
“Miti will release a letter of termination immediately and so there should be no more issues regarding why these factories are still open.”
The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, in a letter to Heineken dated March 31, agreed that the alcoholic beverages producer was a food supply operator and therefore can operate during the partial lockdown.
Heineken said that only very essential staff, which was less than 10% of its workforce, would be involved in ensuring a continuous and uninterrupted supply of its products, adding that its non-essential workers would continue to operate from home.
This decision, however, resulted in criticisms from PAS and Muslim groups that questioned this exemption, as alcohol is not considered as an essential item.
Taking to Twitter, Federal Territories Minister Annuar Musa said the approval for the alcohol beverage manufacturer to work was not in line with MCO policy.
Earlier today, Free Malaysia Today quoted a source as saying that the secretary-general of the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry had issued the letter without the approval of minister Alexander Nanta Linggi and the International Trade and Industry Ministry.