The government has not ruled out the possibility of expanding the ban on the sale of liquor at sundry and grocery shops, convenience stores as well as Chinese medicine shops, to other states, besides the Federal Territories.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Ahmad Marzuk Shaary said that he welcomed the latest ruling by Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa via the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to ban liquor sale in such shops from October next year.
He said the matter did not only involve religious demands but also received positive feedback in general from civil society, including Muslims and non-Muslims.
“Currently, the ban is only applicable to the Federal Territories, but we do not rule out the possibility that it will be expanded to other places.
“We also received positive comments and views from the community, even though there were few who voiced their disagreement,” he said.
Ahmad Marzuk said that Malaysia was slightly behind in terms of controlling the sale of liquor.
“If we look at our neighbouring country such as Singapore, it has stricter rules involving several restrictions. However, this is a very good start, even though it is only implemented in the Federal Territories thus far.
“Hence, this is part of the government’s holistic strategy that needs to be supported by all citizens regardless of religion, race and political affiliation. This is not a political agenda,” he said.
Meanwhile, Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa said there is nothing unusual about the guidelines for liquor licence applications recently issued by the DBKL as they have been introduced in other countries, including in Europe.
He said surveys had been conducted on the guidelines used in other countries, including on the system practised by Singapore, prior to their introduction here.
“We also looked at the rules applied in other countries, including in Europe where the purchase of liquor is very controlled in terms of the time and place it can be sold. Therefore, it has nothing to do with religious or racial issues,” he said.
Annuar stressed that the guidelines were aimed at regulating the sale of alcohol following public complaints on the sale of illegal liquor as well as of alcoholic beverages in small packets at sundry shops and mini-market chains.
“There are also those who sell liquor to minors and school students as it is easily available everywhere,” he added.
City Hall had recently introduced new guidelines for the application of liquor licence which, among others, stipulate that sundry shops and convenience stores will no longer be allowed to sell liquor from Oct 1 next year.
The move was met with mixed reactions from various quarters, with some linking it to issues of race and religion.