DBKL to review alcohol licence guidelines, including minimum age allowed to purchase

Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Dr Santhara Kumar. — MUHAMAD SHAHRIL ROSLI/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL)'s Excise Licensing Board will meet to discuss alcohol licencing guidelines, including reviewing the minimum age allowed to purchase alcohol.

"The existing guideline limits the buyer's age to 18 and above. But the Food Regulation Act 1985 states that alcohol can only be sold to those aged 21 and above.

"So the board, chaired by Datuk Jason Lau Beng Wei, will meet to review this. If the board decides that the minimum age has to be 21 to ensure compliance with the Act, DBKL will issue a circular on this in January," said Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Dr Santhara Kumar, adding that many countries set 21 years as the legal age to buy alcohol.

As for Chinese medical halls, he said that they could continue selling hard liquor until Sept 30,2021.

"The board will engage with relevant stakeholders in this sector to review what they are allowed to sell from October onwards," said Edmund.

Lau said it would include a clearer definition of what constitutes "alcohol used for medicinal purposes", business categorisation and whether special shelving is needed.

Santhara and Lau were speaking during a dialogue with representatives from Associated Liquor Merchants Association of the Federation of Malaya (Alma), Federation of Malaysia Chinese Commerce Association (Femacca) and other stakeholders on DBKL's alcohol licence guidelines.

Santhara also read out a full list of frequently asked questions, which he said would be posted on DBKL's website.

"The guideline is meant to regulate the sale and consumption of alcohol and ensure public safety," he said.

"What it is clear is that effective Dec 15, the manufacture, sale and consumption of samsu (cheap liquor) is completely prohibited in Kuala Lumpur.

"According to DBKL, some 2,400 liquor licenses have been issued and the board is looking into processing some 1,100 applications that have been pending for 14 months."

Santhara assured that the board would continue engaging stakeholders, including convenience store operators, to further refine the guidelines.

Femacca president Lum Kim Soong said they had requested for related business associations to be invited to relevant meetings to give input.

"Our members are worried about how this move will affect their business, so we hope the board will provide a clearer definition on what Chinese medical halls are allowed to do."

Alma president Kenny Yeo said its members have always complied with regulations set by the authorities on the sale of alcohol, such as time limit, minimum age and product display.

"We hope subsequent meetings will also address problems such as people using social media or online shopping platforms to buy alcohol, therefore bypassing conventional methods and stores to buy them," he said.

Meanwhile, representatives from the convenience store and sundry store sectors were advised to meet, iron out issues and provide solutions on how the guideline affects their industry to the board.

DBKL had last month (November 2020) announced that it would impose a ban on the sale of hard liquor in convenience stores, sundry shops and Chinese medicine halls from Oct 1 next year.

However, pure or mixed traditional medicine liquor products will be exempt from this ruling and the sale of beer will still be allowed at these premises from 7am to 9pm, and beer must be placed separately from other beverages.

Under the new guideline, the other businesses allowed to sell liquor cannot be located in front of police stations, places of worship, schools and hospitals.

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