By-law awaits feedback

KUCHING: A proposed new by-law to restrict the sale of liquor in Sarawak, especially in Muslim majority areas, is awaiting feedback from the state Attorney General's (AG) Chambers. 

Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister's Office (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman said that after the AG's office had finalised the proposal, it would be submitted to the state cabinet for final approval and then tabled at the State Legislative Assembly sitting. 

“We are awaiting the feedback as there are problems in implementation,” he told reporters after witnessing the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Tabung Baitulmal Sarawak (TBS) and AmBank Berhad on tithe payment services here on Friday. 

Daud said he could not reveal the implementation problems at the moment because it was still being scrutinised by the AG's office. 

Last year, Daud announced that the Sarawak government was planning to enact a new by-law to restrict liquor sale in the state, especially in Muslim majority areas and that there would be tough penalties for any breach. 

At the time he was quoted as saying the by-law would take into account the sensitivities and views of non-Muslims in the state. 

Under existing laws, traders convicted of selling liquor without a permit from local authorities, face a minimal fine and this has not deterred them from selling liquor illegally, especially in predominantly Muslim areas. 

Currently, the penalties for illegal liquor sales are between RM100 and RM150 under the Kuching Municipal Council (Licensing of Miscellaneous Occupation) By-Laws and the Kuching Rural District Council (Licensing of Miscellaneous Occupation) By-Laws. 

On another matter, Daud said that the role of the “amil”, person appointed by TBS to collect tithes, has been expanded. 

“Initially we selected 200 “amil” out of a total of 883 “amil” that we have in Sarawak. Their new duties would include monitoring and identifying needy Muslims such as the hardcore poor in their areas so that the TBS can extend the necessary assistance to them as quickly as possible,” he added. - Bernama  

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