Khalid: Alcohol sales to continue
Sat, Aug 08, 2009
New Straits Times

By: Mazlinda Mahmood

SHAH ALAM, MALAYSIA - The sale of alcohol will continue to be allowed in Muslim-majority areas in Selangor but the state will adopt a self-regulatory system to ensure it is not sold to Muslims and minors, starting here.

Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim announced this after a 90-minute meeting with Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) officials and representatives of shops selling alcoholic drinks, including 7-Eleven and KK Group of Companies here yesterday.

The decision is a rejection of a call by Pas to ban the sale of alcoholic beverages in all Muslim-majority neighbourhoods in the state, and renders as null an void the letters sent by MBSA in May to 7-Eleven stores to stop selling alcoholic drinks.

It was earlier reported that Pas would propose a draft regulation banning the sale of alcoholic drinks to Muslims and minors in convenience stores in Muslim-majority neighbourhoods in all 12 local councils.

"We do not need to have many laws, so this self-regulatory mechanism may be an unexpected decision.

"Actually, there is no regulation that says alcoholic drinks cannot be sold," Khalid said after the meeting, adding that the mechanism would also apply to supermarkets and hypermarkets.

The self-regulatory approach would be based on market demand and stores would stop selling alcohol altogether if there is no demand from consumers.

The approach includes no display of alcoholic drinks while purchase could only be made upon request at the cashier's counter.

"7-Eleven has conducted self-regulation, and of the 52 stores they have in Shah Alam, 10 have stopped selling alcoholic drinks. This is because they feel that there is no demand as most of the residents are Muslims, so they do not sell.

"Therefore, the state government is of the opinion that it is better if we use the concept of self-regulation instead of imposing more rules and regulations that may not be effective and counter productive," he said.

Shops selling alcohol have been given a month to adopt the system.

Khalid said the state government would draft a standard formula for the rest of the state next month.

KK Group of Companies chief executive officer Datuk Dr Douglas K.K. Chai said the system was a good step but admitted that it would affect business.

"I think this is a good step and we hope the system will work out at the end of the day."

It was earlier reported that 7-Eleven Malaysia Sdn Bhd executive director Ng Su Onn said the company was very strict about its policy of not selling liquor to Muslims and minors below the age of 18 and have fired employees for breaching the policy.

MBSA mayor Mazalan Md Noor said the council would adhere to the menteri besar's decision to adopt the self-regulatory mechanism and fully cooperate with retailers to make the system a success.

The issue of alcohol sales in Muslim-majority areas surfaced after state Pas commissioner Datuk Dr Hasan Mohamed Ali called for state executive councillor Ronnie Liu, who is also in charge of research and studies, to be stripped of his local government portfolio after he ordered seized beer to be returned to the 7-Eleven outlet in Section 8, a Muslim-majority area.

There are about 350 stores in Selangor and, of the total, 17 are in Muslim-majority areas in Section 1 to 24, Shah Alam, while KK Group has over 40 outlets in the state.

Meanwhile, about 100 state Umno Youth members gathered at the Shah Alam City Council's office to support its action in seizing the alcoholic drinks at the 7-Eleven store recently.

Led by Shah Alam Youth chief Azhari Shaari, they also criticised Liu's interference in the incident.

Selangor Pas Youth has accused Umno of politicising the issue.

"While we strongly object to Liu's interference, the alcohol issue did not originate from the DAP or the Pakatan Rakyat government but from the failure of Umno/Barisan Nasional's policies which had caused disruption in the state," its deputy chief Ahmad Zaidy Abdul Mutalib said in a statement.


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