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Published: Friday August 7, 2009 MYT 12:37:00 PM
Updated: Friday August 7, 2009 MYT 4:17:29 PM

Selangor govt: No blanket ban on beer sales (Update)

edward@thestar.com.my

SHAH ALAM: There is no ban on the sales of beer at convenience stores in Muslim-majority areas in Selangor, but the outlets concerned have been urged to practise self-regulation until proper guidelines are formulated.

“Convenience stores are allowed to sell alcoholic beverages in Muslim-majority areas but this must be done with care,” Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said.

“We need them to have a separate cooler and sales can only be made to non-Muslims,” he told reporters after a one-and-half-hour meeting with convenience store owners and Shah Alam mayor Datuk Mazalan Md Noor on Friday.

Khalid added that self-regulation would begin in Sections 1 to 24 in the city here for a month as a test case before it is extended to other Muslim-majority areas in the state.

He said the sale of alcoholic beverages in Malaysia is governed by Customs regulations and no license is required for the sale of canned and bottled beer.

“So, we are addressing the issue on social grounds. Our aim is not to infringe on the cultural rights and beliefs of non-Muslims and at the same time we do not need to come up with too many laws to control the drinking habit among Muslims and teens,” he said.

Khalid said the Pakatan Rakyat-controlled state government respected the spirit of free enterprise and wanted businesses to thrive, but would also respond to the concerns of their immediate communities.

Asked if the meeting on Friday also discussed Selangor PAS’ call to strip state executive councillor Ronnie Liu of his local government portfolio, Khalid said it was a non-issue as the discussion was to seek a solution to beer sales.

He said that the letters sent by the Shah Alam City Council to convenience stores to stop beer sales were null and void with the self-regulatory mechanism taking effect.

KK Group of Companies business owner Datuk Dr Douglas K.K. Chai, who said his firm has 40 outlets in Selangor, feels that self-regulation was a good immediate measure.

“Alcoholic beverages contribute the better part of our sales and this self-regulation method would have some effect on our bottom-line. But we respect all people, and their religious and cultural beliefs,” he said.

Mazalan said the city council respected the state government’s decision and would monitor and assist businesses in fine-tuning their self-regulation methods.

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