No issues with liquor sales in multi-racial country
SHAH ALAM - Two prominent figures have expressed disagreement with alcohol ban, pointing out that the country is made up of people from different races and religions and highlighting the possible economic advantages of allowing alcohol sales.
In voicing his concern, Malaysian Substance Abuse Council secretary-general Raja Azizan Suhaimi Raja Abd Latiffi emphasised that Malaysia is a diverse and multi-racial country.
"If Muslims know that they cannot consume alcohol, why should they worry if other races or religions sell alcohol?
"For me, I don't see any problem. Moreover, we can generate income through that.
"Foreigners will come in and I doubt that in 100 foreign tourists, maybe about one or two would find it uncomfortable, the rest would want to enjoy and have a leisure time," he said when contacted.
He suggested that the government should use either the syariah or civil court to compel Muslims to abstain from consuming alcohol as a deterrent.
"For non-Muslims, I believe the penalty for drunk driving is already quite reasonable—a significant deterrent. If they happen to get intoxicated, it's advisable to stay in a nearby hotel rather than drive back home.
"Selling liquor shouldn't be a problem. If you want to erase that to zero, it's impossible," he added.
He said the Madani government took a more rational approach in addressing the issue as it recognised the diversity of the country and that everyone could not adhere solely to the laws of one specific race.
Meanwhile, Alliance for a Safe Community chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye echoed the same sentiments, emphasising the economic fallout of such a ban.
"They shouldn't ban (alcohol) because after Covid-19, many businesses suffered, especially Chinese medical shops with Chinese wines and liquors.
"Over the years, they have been doing business, so recently when they imposed the ban, their businesses were badly affected," he said.
Lee stressed the importance of personal freedom, stating that people should be able to buy whatever they wanted.
"This is a country where people can buy whatever they want. They are free to have a drink whenever they want to drink.
"Freedom is very important, so to go and buy and a drink should not be a problem at all and those who are selling should be allowed to sell. There should not be any restrictions on them," he said.
He added that those who consumed alcohol should maintain strict self-discipline and know their drinking limits to have social harmony.
It was reported that a total of 1,519 applications for liquor licenses received the green light from new committee members of the Kuala Lumpur City Hall's (DBKL) Excise Licensing Board for renewal.
Therefore, liquor sales in Kuala Lumpur will not be subjected to any future blanket ban.
Excise Licensing Board vice-chairman Pooi Weng Keong revealed that the applications made by sundry shops, convenience stores and Chinese medicine shops for liquor licenses were approved.