Don’t pass the buck on liquor sales, PH MPs tell Shahidan

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Seven Pakatan Harapan MPs in Kuala Lumpur have urged federal territories minister Shahidan Kassim to take responsibility for the city’s new liquor regulations which ban liquor sales at groceries and medical halls.

Bernama

“We are appalled that Shahidan chose to pass the buck to the Excise Licensing Board instead of telling the truth and helping to resolve the situation by reversing the ban,” said the MPs in a joint statement.

“In fact, this Excise Licensing Board is a government agency under Shahidan’s ministry. This means the minister has the power to change or amend any wrong decisions,” they said.

The MPs said Shahidan knows the issue very well as they had been having discussions with him “on this unfair liquor sales ban” since he became the federal territories minister.

The statement was signed by Batu MP P Prabakaran, Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun, Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai, Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng, Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, Seputeh MP Teresa Kok and Wangsa Maju MP Dr Tan Yee Kew.

Kuala Lumpur has 11 MPs. The other MPs are Rina Harun (Titiwangsa), Kamarudin Jaffar (Bandar Tun Razak) – both with Bersatu – Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (Setiawangsa) and Fahmi Fadzil (Lembah Pantai) of PKR.

The statement by the seven MPs was in response to Shahidan’s statement on Friday that alcohol licences in Kuala Lumpur are approved by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) Excise Licensing Board, which has non-Muslim members.

Shahidan had said that not only were the board members non-Muslims, the issue also involved non-Muslim producers, distributors, merchants and customers. “But the federal territories minister is being blamed,” he said. “Issues of race and religion are being brought up. This should not be happening and it is not fair. All this is a challenge.”

He said he should not be blamed for the new guidelines announced by DBKL on Nov 1 under which an immediate ban was imposed on liquor sales at groceries, convenience stores and Chinese medical halls, while beer sales were allowed only from 7am to 9pm.

The new regulations, which were supposed to be enforced last year, have come under fire from opposition MPs and civil society alike due to their concerns about the violation of non-Muslims’ freedom and rights.

Shahidan said he had been in discussions with a representative of liquor merchants, Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun, MCA Wanita Youth leader Nicole Wong and the excise board about a “misunderstanding” but did not elaborate further. – FMT