Putrajaya only allowed Heineken to distribute its existing stock during the movement-control order (MCO) period and not brew new beer, said Rosol Wahid.
The deputy domestic trade and consumer affairs minister said that was the permission granted to the brewery’s management, which had appealed for leniency.
The PAS lawmaker said the decision was arrived at after the ministry was informed of the estimated losses of up to RM340 million suffered by Heineken and after taking into account the interests of all parties.
Rosol said it may have been misunderstood as allowing the brewery to continue production during the MCO after the approval letter went viral on social media.
“What happened may have been a misunderstanding of the letter that went viral.
“The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry has no power to grant permission to operate. That is under the International Trade and Industry Ministry,” he told Malay-language daily Harian Metro.
He also defended the ministry’s secretary-general, Hasnol Zam Zam Ahmad, who some claimed had acted without informing the minister and his deputy.
“There are reports stating that the minister (Alexander Nanta Linggi) and I were not informed about the matter by Hasnol. That is untrue. We knew about it,” he was quoted as saying by Harian Metro.
Yesterday, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the cabinet had revoked an earlier decision to allow two breweries to start operating again during the MCO period.
He said the special cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had arrived at the decision.
“The International Trade and Industry Ministry will inform them. This is no longer an issue and the matter is settled,” Ismail had said.
Rosol’s party was among those who had demanded a withdrawal of the approval to the brewery.
“PAS respects the right of non-Muslims to consume alcohol, but it is not an essential service during this critical time as we fight the Covid-19 outbreak,” the party’s information chief Kamaruzaman Mohamad said in a statement.
The government had previously ordered all non-essential companies to be shut during the MCO, which is to run until April 14. – TMI