New liquor licences to take into account area sensitivities, says minister

On June 1, DBKL announced that all new liquor licences would be frozen.(Benama pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Federal Territories Minister Annuar Musa says new liquor licences for the capital will take into account the sensitivities of those in the area, the duration in which liquor can be sold as well as the type of premise involved.

He said this in response to Abdul Latiff Abdul Rahman (PAS-Kuala Krai) who had asked if there were plans to limit the opening of new liquor stores in areas where Muslims reside.

Latiff also asked if the ministry would reevaluate the presence of existing premises in Muslim-populated areas.

Annuar said liquor licences are issued to protect the community and ensure peace in the area.

Adding that such licences are issued in western countries as well, he said the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) was currently reviewing the rules and regulations for new licences as there was a tendency for these to become lax over time.

“The sale of liquor cannot be the same as the sale of cordial and others as it affects other people,” he said during ministerial question time today.

He also said the ministry needed a new set of guidelines which would be drawn up by August. However, he assured that the rights of those planning to buy or consume liquor would not be curbed.

“But it is the responsibility of the local authorities to determine these (new aspects) and it is also the responsibility of the Licensing Board not to issue licences as they please,” the Ketereh MP added.

Earlier, Wong Hon Wai (DAP-Bukit Bendera) asked Annuar to state DBKL’s rationale for suspending the issuance of new liquor licences and when these would be reissued.

Annuar said there was no freeze on the licences as those who had these could still operate.

He said the freeze was for new licences as DBKL looks to review old guidelines following concerns over deaths related to drink driving.

Wong also asked if DBKL had discussed the issue with stakeholders such as bar and restaurant owners, liquor importers and merchants as the industry employs thousands of workers. To this, Annuar said they could put forward their suggestions.

On June 1, DBKL announced that it would freeze all new liquor licences, sparking concerns from businessmen whose companies had been forced to close since March 18.