Liquor licence rule for coffee shops scrapped

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The government has gone back on its decision requiring all restaurants and coffee shops to obtain a liquor licence to sell beer and stout from next year.

The Royal Customs Department will cease enforcement of liquor licences for sales of alcoholic beverages in retail outlets following orders from the Ministry of Finance (MoF), Putrajaya announced today.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong confirmed the matter in a statement saying he had spoken with Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz who confirmed the orders were sent on November 23, 2021.

“MoF had issued an official letter to instruct the Customs Department to cancel the implementation of making liquor licences compulsory for selling alcoholic drinks,” he said.

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The MCA president said this is since the MoF had in 1977 authorised the mentris besar and chief ministers in each state to handle this matter through the Licensing Board under their respective local governments.

“The Customs Department is part of the Licensing Board of each state, and it had no power to instruct restaurant coffee shops to apply for liquor licences,” he said.

“Therefore, MoF had cancelled the circular issued on April 7, which requested business owners to apply for liquor licences from the Customs Department before December 31.”

On Monday, DAP’s Lim Guan Eng questioned the government’s motives in enforcing limitations and new regulations on coffee shops selling alcohol, and whether such decisions were a sign of PAS’ extremist policies being upheld.

The Bagan MP said in a statement how a supposed move to compel coffee shop owners to obtain an alcohol licence before selling beer to non-Muslim patrons does not only incur additional costs for the business owners but also interferes with the practices and lifestyle of non-Muslims.

It was earlier reported that coffee shops and restaurants must apply for a liquor licence, which costs between RM840 and RM1,320 a year, if they want to continue selling beer and stout on their premises from Jan 1.

Businesses were surprised by the sudden requirement, which although is in the Excise Act 1976 and Excise Regulations 1977, was only now being enforced.

Critics had said the move would eat into the industry’s already small profit margins and infringe on the rights and freedom of non-Muslims.