KUALA LUMPUR: As a temporary freeze on new liquor licences came into effect here, businesses say stiffer penalties on drink-driving and creating more awareness is the best way forward.
Backing the government’s determination to curb the scourge of drink-driving, restaurant and coffeeshop operators however likened the immediate freeze imposed by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) as “addressing the symptoms and not the root causes”.
Malaysia Singapore Coffeeshop Proprietors’ General Association president Datuk Ho Su Mong described the move as “not in the right direction”.
“Do we revoke the operating licences of motorcycle traders just because there are many mat rempit?” he asked.
“Such a move does not resolve the root causes of the issue. Law enforcement against drink-driving must be strengthened, ” he said yesterday.
Ho called for stiffer drink-driving penalties, describing existing punishments as “too lax” leading to indifference on the part of offenders.
“This concerns the lives of innocent road users. Fines, even for a first-time offender, should serve as a serious deterrent.
“There must be very stringent and deterrent sentences meted out to offenders and only then will it work, ” he said, suggesting a first-time offender should be fined not more than RM100,000, jailed two years, or both upon conviction.
Ho also wanted anti-drink-driving awareness campaigns to be stepped up for the benefit of mainly young drivers, focusing on the law and penalties.
Selangor and Federal Territory Chinese Restaurant Operators Association vice-chairman Sia Boon Kong said it should not be assumed that people who drink alcohol will drive and cause accidents.
“The choice should always be there for consumers to decide what they want to consume, ” he said.
There are two sides to every situation, Sia said, and the onus was on the enforcement and for the consumer who wanted to drive to be “mature and responsible”.
“No one else should be blamed, ” Sia said, adding that banning liquor licences may have an adverse effect on entertainment outlets.
In a circular yesterday, DBKL announced a freeze on the granting of new liquor licence applications with immediate effect.
The body said it was responding to the call by Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa, who wanted the government to stop issuing licences for liquor sales until new guidelines were in place and laws revised.
DBKL warned that enforcement would be carried out on premises selling liquor without a licence.
The decision was made after several recent drink-driving incidents which caused accidents.
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