PETALING JAYA: The directive to enforce liquor licences for the retail sale of alcoholic beverages has been axed, says Transport Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong (pic).
Dr Wee said he personally contacted Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz on the matter.
“He confirmed that the ministry had indeed cancelled the directive and promised to instruct the Customs Department to abide by this decision,” he said in an Instagram post yesterday.
Dr Wee noted that he and Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Lim Ban Hong had immediately handled this issue after Malaysia-Singapore Coffeeshop Proprietors Association president Wong Teu Hoon approached them on it.
“In the middle of November, some restaurant and coffee shop owners in certain states were invited to attend briefings by the Customs Department and had been instructed to apply for liquor licence from the Customs Department, which had caused an uproar.
“Three weeks ago, I again spoke to Tengku Zafrul on this matter.
“On Nov 23, the Finance Ministry had issued an official letter to instruct the Customs Department to cancel the implementation of making liquor licences compulsory for selling alcoholic drinks.
“This is because the Finance Ministry had in 1977 authorised mentris besar and chief ministers in each state to handle this matter through the Licensing Board under the respective local governments.
“The Customs Department is part of the Licensing Board of each state and it had no power to instruct restaurants and coffee shops to apply for liquor licences.
“Therefore, the Finance Ministry had cancelled the circular issued on April 7 which requested business owners to apply for liquor licences from the Customs Department before Dec 31,” he said.
Dr Wee pointed out that “Malaysia is a multiracial and multireligious country where non-Muslims have the right to drink alcohol”, adding that this should be respected.
It was reported that starting next year, the Customs Department required coffee shops and restaurants nationwide to apply for liquor licences.
However, this directive was criticised as it increased the financial burden on coffee shop and restaurant operators who have already suffered from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.