THE Timah whisky name controversy broke out a month ago during the Melaka state election. The fire stirred by the Amanah machinery and echoed by a PKR MP were eventually put out thanks to mediation by Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong who wisely dealt with the respective minister and industry players.
Unfortunately, another fire broke out where the upcoming implementation of alcohol sales restrictions in all restaurants and coffeeshops. This is an ill-advised decision made at a time where our nation is struggling to crawl out from the valley of an economic downturn due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The tourism industry in many countries suffered zero income for almost 2 years as a result of border closures. Thus, all countries are trying their level best to introduce attractive packages for tourists whenever there is a chance to reopen their country’s borders.
However, Malaysia has taken the opposite direction by making it more difficult for restaurants and coffeeshops to sell alcohol and liquor. Predictably, many restaurants and coffeeshop operators will stop selling alcohol and liquor with limits imposed on the sales of alcohol and liquor. How many international tourists would be interested in visiting Malaysia after knowing that alcohol would not be easily available while dining in the many restaurants in Malaysia?
Therefore, the enforcement of alcohol sales restrictions at this critical time when the local tourism industry is about to recover could be described as a big slash against tourism-related industry operators.
Also, this policy will render Malaysia to be a regional laughing stock because Malaysia will indirectly help the growth of our neighbouring country’s tourism industry as we would have eliminated ourselves as a competitor along the path of economic recovery.
Coercing alcohol sales restrictions does not affect Muslims as Muslims are prohibited from consuming alcoholic drinks. However, the impact on non-Muslims is significant. It certainly becomes an issue when their business is affected due to these curbs on alcohol sales, for example, controls in the quantity that may be sold.
From the political point of view, how is it beneficial to the government by compelling alcohol sales restrictions? The BN-led Federal Government should act wisely to maintain political stability instead of creating opportunities for PN and PH to take advantage by stirring this issue. BN should always remember that the landslide victory in the recent Melaka state election does not guarantee the same outcome during GE15 if BN fails to take care of the interests of all voters. Do not let PN or PH laugh all the way marching towards Putrajaya after GE15 due to BN’s overconfidence in overlooking the business interests of thousands of restaurant and coffeeshop operators nationwide.
The government should immediately look for ways to effectively curtail the hikes in prices of many essential goods instead of imposing alcohol sales restrictions. Helping to lift the heavy burden off voters is always the correct way to gain support from them.
The decision to put tabs on alcohol sales is a lamentable one that lacks foresight. Since the DAP-led Penang state government also looked for ways to stop sundry shops from selling liquor last year, it will be a wise decision for voters to avoid placing all eggs in the same basket during GE15 to avoid being faced with the issue of not having enough MPs to carry out effective checks and balances within the government.
Dr Gan Kang Kai , MCA Youth central committee member