Liquor sale restriction a violation of spirit of moderation, business enterprise, says MCA


Datuk Nicole Wong Siaw Ting. -filepic

THE MCA Federal Territories liaison committee and Majlis Perwakilan Penduduk Wilayah Persekutuan (MPPWP) of Seputeh, Bukit Bintang, Kepong and Segambut hereby express our strong dissatisfaction with the announcement by Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to proceed with its ban on the sale of liquor at sundry shops, convenience stores, and Chinese medicinal shops effective Nov 1.

This ban strikes at the capital city’s spirit of openness and driving business entrepreneurship. It puts our modern era into reverse gear.

DBKL’s decision has seriously undermined Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s “Malaysian Family” goals, which centre on inclusiveness.

The public may be misled to assume that the government talks one thing but practises another, as this appears to be what the government is currently doing. All efforts for inclusiveness and boosting economic activities seem to be overshadowed.

The government had launched the “Malaysian Family” to be more approachable, to bridge the race groups, and encourage inclusiveness and youth participation.

These are values which Malaysians expect and agree with. However, DBKL’s current implementation counters such values. Not only are stakeholders and the public left disappointed, foreign tourists and foreign investments will also be discouraged.

Without a doubt, the new guidelines pose a double whammy to businesses i.e. challenges posed by the pandemic in an economy which had worsened.

Additionally, some businesses may have to scale back their business or shut operations completely. This would result in unemployment and financial losses, thereby jeopardising the government’s efforts to promote our nation’s economic recovery.

Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim undertook the initiative to approach stakeholders in response to the issue of liquor sales in Kuala Lumpur. This turnaround leaves a bad taste.

Sundry shops, convenience stores and Chinese medicine halls in Kuala Lumpur used to retail liquor without causing any problems to others.

However, during the Covid-19 pandemic coupled with the movement control orders, the liquor sale issue was unfortunately hyped up. The reasons cited do not appear to hold water.

What is more disheartening is that DBKL devised guidelines that lacked reason. Not only do DBKL’s revised guidelines bar liquor sales at sundry shops, convenience stores and traditional Chinese medicine halls, they have also introduced stricter conditions for beer sales, for example, on time, location and method.

Meanwhile, Chinese medicinal shops are allowed to sell liquor-based medicinal products provided that they are approved by the Health Ministry.

Policy changes must be well-reasoned and take into account the needs of stakeholders, economic continuity and national wellbeing.

DBKL’s move is one step backward against civilised and free enterprise when Kuala Lumpur is reopening. DBKL should propel the nation’s capital, rather than damage its image as a multicultural and cosmopolitan city.

MCA chairpersons and representatives from the MPPWP have never agreed with this policy but instead, conveyed our firm objections in meetings with the FT Minister.

DATUK NICOLE WONG SIAW TING

MCA Federal Territories liaison committee chairperson

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