Underaged and under the influence of alcohol


Array of cheap liquors in a convenience store in Ipoh.

MetroPerak investigates reports of students consuming alcohol in and out of school

FOR 25-year-old Mark, the memories of consuming alcohol with his friends while still in school remain vivid.

Mark, (not his real name), said he knew it was wrong to drink in school but peer pressure led to his liquor-fuelled misadventures.

“Honestly, at the time, skipping classes, going to a convenience store and getting a bottle of Snooker (brand whisky) was fun! That was my idea of fun.”

He started drinking at the age of 13 and it went on for 12 years. Every day in school, he would share a bottle of Snooker with five of his friends.

Teachers caught him, but he found new ways to hide his addiction from them. Even his parents did not have a clue that he used to go back home drunk.

“My teachers threatened to expel me from school, but I was unperturbed. I would buy a bottle of coke and mix it with liquor. After that I would have a mint to make sure my teachers wouldn’t smell the liquor on my breath.”

MetroPerak visited several shops where cheap liquor and beer can be easily purchased.
MetroPerak visited several shops where cheap liquor and beer can be easily purchased.

He says he is one of many students who used to consume cheap liquor easily purchased from liquor shops.

MetroPerak also spoke to few school students in Ipoh who admitted to drinking in school or had encountered situations where students consumed alcohol in school.

A student MetroPerak spoke to in the vicinity of the Ipoh Padang, said students would play truant and go to a convenience store to buy alcohol.

The boy, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said some students even go to Ipoh’s India Street to buy cheap liquor from a licensed liquor shop.

“I was tempted to follow them but images of my parents whacking me were in my mind. So, I decided not to do it,” he said.

On March 14, Kapar MP G. Manivanan called for the banning of cheap liquor following incidents of school students bringing alcohol to school.

He said he had received complaints from several teachers in his constituency about underage drinking in schools and also added that students were sometimes found drinking liquor openly in public places when not in school.

Some of the seized liquors and beers are shown to the media by the Perak Customs Department.
A file image of liquor seized by the Perak Customs Department. Smuggled liqour compounds the issue of cheap, readily available alcohol.

Manivanan said liquor can cost as litttle as RM1.20 a bottle and is easily available in sundry shops.

MetroPerak visited some of these shops and cheap liquor was readily available.

This reporter also managed to buy liquor called Thai Song for just RM4. There were other cheaper brands, costing less than RM3.

In a convenience store near the Ipoh Padang, a cashier who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, said students go to the store to buy alcohol. She added that the shop is much stricter these days.

“If we suspect a customer is a school student, we will ask for identification. Sometimes, when foreign cashiers man the counters, they will sell to students because they do not know the laws of the country.”

She shared a story of how several students ganged up on a cashier to buy a few bottles of liquor.

“It was the last day of the SPM exam and a few students came to our shop. We told them we would not sell them alcohol, but they threatened to wreck our shop if we did not sell them liquor.”

Some irresponsible drinkers throw empty bottles into a pot near a convenience store in Ipoh.
Discarded alcohol bottles in a pot near a convenience store in Ipoh.

Fearful of what might happen, the cashier handled the transaction even though she knew it was wrong.

“At the time, I was concerned about the shop. I did not even want to call the police because they were aggressive,” she said.

MetroPerak also went to Buntong to check out some liquor stores and ask if there were any school students that frequented the shops for cheap liquor.

Of three shops visited, none admitted selling alcohol to students.

One of the shop owners said youngsters used to come and buy liquor from his shop but he stopped selling to youngsters three years ago.

When asked why he stopped selling, he refused to comment.

“If I see kids, I will ask them to leave. You can check the other shops because I know they sell it to them. Their liquor is way cheaper, but dangerous too,” he said.

Mark has now stopped drinking after a friend died in a road accident after a drinking session with friends.

“I was with him at the time. We left and I had to call my brother to fetch me because I was totally drunk.

“The next day, I got a phone call from my friend saying that he met with an accident. A week later, he died. I was shocked and I told myself the drinking had to stop.

“To all the schoolchildren out there, have fun in school but don’t spoil it by consuming alcohol. If I had not been drinking, who knows, I might have scored well in my PMR and SPM and gone on to better things.

“My pursuit for ‘happiness’ hampered my goals. I am 25 now and thank God, it is not too late to bounce back. I just hope other students will not follow my ways.”

*Note: This story is part of a series about underage drinking. In tomorrow’s instalment MetroPerak speaks to parents and teachers dealing with the issue of students consuming alcohol in school.

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Metro , Perak , alcoholism

   

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