Coffee shops selling beers were recently notified of a new policy requiring them to apply for a new licence three weeks ago, just a month and a half before the ruling is supposed to come into force on January 1.
Keu Kok Meng, Petaling Jaya Coffeeshop Association president, said businesses have been taken aback by this sudden imposition of the licensing requirement.
“It will be enforced nationwide. Of that I’m certain, according to the briefing session. It is understood that enforcement comes under the Excise Regulations 1977. The legislation has been there, but they are only enforcing it now.
“Apparently, the Finance Ministry informed the Customs Department about the decision in March, but we are only being briefed now.
“Definitely, we feel a bit shortchanged by the short notice. So, we will certainly appeal the decision. In fact, we have written to the ministry, seeking for reconsideration,” he said.
Keu said the timing of the implementation is especially odd – considering businesses are only beginning to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic – and warned that the new licensing policy could force many to stop their operations.
“So far, there have been no procedures provided on application. That is the worrying part for us. It is already nearing the end of the year. Hopefully, they will hold off (on) the implementation to a later date.”
Keu said the new licensing policy could force many coffee shops to cease operations, as the licence costs between RM840 and RM1,320 a year.
The issue was also highlighted by DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng in a statement today, claiming that the government is adopting PAS’ extremist policies nationwide by requiring ordinary coffee shops selling beer to apply for alcohol licences.
“This is not just about imposing additional financial burden by paying extra licensing costs by coffee shops and restaurants of more than RM1,000, but also deliberately imposing unnecessary restrictions and interfering in the customary lifestyle and business practices on non-Muslims,” he said.
Lim said the latest ruling by the Customs Department next year on all coffee shops and restaurants will adversely impact over ten thousand business establishments throughout the country.
Lim urged the local governments not to implement such regulations that restrict and limit the existing rights of non-Muslims.
Charles Santiago, Member of Parliament for Klang, made a statement on Twitter, saying that, “These Taliban-like decisions would only frighten away investors and create fear amongst non-Muslims.”
1. These rulings burden businesses that are already struggling because of the Covid-19 pandemic. There is no point in dishing out aid and unleashing more expenses on them. It defeats the purpose, especially when we have a new variant that can cause another hit on businesses. pic.twitter.com/fKxvqhOut1
— Charles Santiago (@mpklang) December 6, 2021
Issues concerning alcoholic beverages have been a sore point for the federal government of late, particularly after it imposed a ban on the sale of liquor at grocers, convenience stores, and Chinese medical halls in Kuala Lumpur last month.