KL Business Owners Call Liquor Sale Ban 'Unfair And Ineffective'

Business owners in Kuala Lumpur are up in arms over Kuala Lumpur City Hall’s (DBKL) decision to ban the sale of liquor at convenience stores, sundry shops and Chinese medicine halls.

They are calling the guidelines, which took effect on Monday (Nov 1), unfair and ineffective, adding that the move would only worsen the struggle of business owners to recover from the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The liquor sale restriction guidelines were first brought up on Nov 15 last year.

Initially set to be enforced on Oct 1, the ban was postponed for a month to finalise the study of the guidelines.

The new guidelines now only allow sundry shops, convenience shops and Chinese medicine hall to sell beer from 7am to 9pm.

Despite DBKL claiming that it had taken into consideration the views of various stakeholders, the new guidelines did not differ much from the original ones brought up last year.

KK Group of Companies founder and group executive chairman Datuk Seri Dr KK Chai, whose company owns more than 200 KK Super Mart outlets in Kuala Lumpur, said the new guidelines would dramatically affect retailers.

”Having such unfair guidelines in the capital city of Malaysia is detrimental to various retail industries, especially when the country is on the road to recovery from the pandemic.

”We do not only (sell) liquor to local consumers but also foreign investors, expatriates as well as tourists.

“These guidelines could affect over 10,000 retailers in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.

Chai also questioned whether the Federal Territories Ministry had discussed the move and its economic impact with other ministries such as the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry and the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry.

Federal Territory and Selangor Chinese Medicine/Drug Dealers Association president Loh Kim Fong said with the guidelines, the unsold stock could amount to RM500,000 in losses for each outlet.

“It is unlikely we can return the stock to the suppliers and Chinese medicine hall operators have to bear the cost.

”Depending on the size, a medicine hall can suffer from RM50,000 to RM500,000 in losses.

“About 300 Chinese medicine hall owners in Kuala Lumpur have expressed their worries and disappointment over the liquor sale restrictions,” he said.

The guidelines also state that Chinese medicine halls are required to obtain approvals from the Health Ministry for the sales of mixed or pure liquor for medicinal purposes.

For beer, business owners must prepare a separate display space for sale of the beverage that must be locked or barred after the permitted time.

Conversely, Bukit Bandaraya Residents Association (RA) in Bangsar is supportive of the liquor sale guidelines.

”The RA has always been in favour of a liquor sale ban, especially in commercial areas close to residential areas, due to safety concerns,” said its adviser Datuk M. Ali.

”Consumers used to drink at public parks and throw away the liquor bottles indiscriminately.

”Residents have complained that these drinkers would get high and become unruly and cause social and safety issues in the neighbourhood,” he added.

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