KUCHING: Local authorities in Sarawak will not ban sundry shops, convenience stores and Chinese medical halls in their jurisdiction from selling liquor, as is currently enforced by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL).
Kuching South City Council mayor Datuk Wee Hong Seng said introducing such a ban would not be the right move in view of Sarawak's multicultural society as well as the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said the council had received calls from concerned operators in its jurisdiction asking if the council would follow DBKL's move.
"We have discussed this issue with state Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian.
"Sarawak is a multicultural, multiracial society and we need to respect each other's beliefs and practices," he said when contacted on Wednesday (Nov 10).
Wee also said banning the sale of liquor would affect the livelihoods of sundry shop and convenience store proprietors who had already suffered losses during the pandemic.
On Chinese medical halls, he said their medicinal wines and other products containing alcohol were sold for medicinal purposes and not for recreational drinking.
"We will continue to renew the permits and licences of sundry shops and convenience stores to sell liquor.
"For Chinese medical halls, we will continue to waive the permit and licence for them to carry their stock as long as they are approved by the health authorities for medicinal purposes," he said.
Sibu Municipal Council chairman Clarence Ting also said the council would not ban the sale of liquor at businesses to which it had issued operating licences.
He said it had issued licences to food and beverage outlets including restaurants and coffee shops, while the district office issued licences to convenience stores, sundry shops and Chinese medical halls.
"The Sibu Municipal Council will not stop food and beverage outlets from selling liquor," he said.
Kota Samarahan Municipal Council chairman Datuk Peter Minos said the council would not adopt DBKL's ruling, which he described as negative politicking.
"I wonder what is going on there. They are getting more restrictive, saying we cannot drink this or that or use this word or that.
"It's making life uncomfortable and inconvenient. We don't want to be part of it.
"Sarawak is happy and harmonious, let's be reasonable and sensible," he said.