LACK of enforcement is encouraging unscrupulous shop proprietors in Klang and Shah Alam to sell cheap liquor.
The situation has caused alarm among the public who claim that the easy availability of such liquor is affecting the quality of life in their area.
A check by StarMetro found that the Little India area in Klang town and a residential area in Taman Sri Muda are increasingly becoming known as drinking dens.
Many of those illegally selling the liquor are found to be mini- market operators.
They often sell the liquor only to customers who request it.
The customers comprise Malaysians and foreign workers.
Local residents have expressed worries that these premises are creating a negative influence on youths.
They claim that these premises do not discriminate and will even sell the cheap liquor to students.
Residents in the once-quiet Taman Sri Muda in Shah Alam say the problem emerged a year ago when several illegal liquor shops mushroomed in the commercial centre.
They fear for their safety as the drunk men loiter in public areas and fights have broken out among those in an inebriated state.
A resident, Ravi, said the first shop opened a year ago and the numbers promptly started multiplying.
“This is a real nuisance for the rest of the residents. We have seen drunk people sleeping by the roadside and it is scary,” he said.
He added that he had witnessed fights between foreigners from different gangs in the wee hours of the morning.
Residents are afraid to lodge complaints and act against these shops as they believe the owners have ties to gangs.
StarMetro’s survey of the place discovered several stores running as mini marts.
One shop was nestled in an alleyway, with customers sitting on stools outside and drinking beer.
Another shop with a mini mart signboard had tables and chairs inside the shop.
All the shops were packed with customers, both local and foreign, at 2.30pm on a public holiday.
Another resident, Puspam, said women were afraid to patronise the commercial area without being accompanied by a male relative.
“It is scary to walk past these drunks at any time of the day. I have warned my daughters to stay away from the shops unless my husband or son escorts them,” said Puspam.
In Klang’s Little India, several of the mini markets, stationery shops and even a video centre were found to be selling cheap liquor.
Checks revealed that the majority of their customers were foreigners, who worked in restaurants and retail shops in the area.
A mini market in Lorong Tingkat was found selling the beverage through its backdoor.
There are a few more such shops operating along Jalan Stesyen, Jalan Tengku Diauddin, Lorong Tengku Kelana and Jalan Mohed, off Jalan Tengku Kelana.
Traders in the area claim that the presence of the numerous premises that are illegally selling liquor has marred the image of the town.
The trader, who wished to be identified only as Raja, said the presence of drunkards had became rampant in recent months with the increasing number of premises selling cheap liquor.
“Groups of drunk people can be found at every nook and corner of the town these days.
“The sight of people lying drunk on the five-foot ways is becoming common,” he added.
Another trader said the presence of thousands of foreign workers in the area had led to the rising number of shops selling cheap liquor.
He said the cheap liquor was sold for between RM3.50 and RM7 per bottle.
“Thai Fong, Kapak, 99 Red and Martin are among the popular brands,” he said, adding that Indian whiskies, including MC and Signature, were also being sold at these premsies.
A visitor to Little India in Klang, S. Poobalan, 45, said he had come across broken liquor bottles on the roads, especially at the side streets and backlanes.
He said the shattered glass was a danger to pedestrians, especially children.
Klang Consumers Association president A. Devadass took the authorities to task for failing to act fast to control the situation.
He said the presence of too many premises selling cheap liquor cast a negative image on the town.
“It is more rampant to see the drunks during the evenings and weekends when they are off from work,” he noted.