The proposal by the Federal Territories Minister, Tan Sri Annuar Musa yesterday to freeze the issuance of new liquor licences which presumably, resulted in DBKL announcing today that all applications for such licences are frozen with immediate effect, does not overcome the mischief that such a proposal was intended to overcome, namely the high incidences of fatal accidents on the road due to drink driving.
One way of addressing the problem is to introduce harsher punishments for drink driving related offences.
As I have said in a media statement dated 27th May, 2020, the then PH government had always been, and still is, steadfast in its commitment in addressing the problem of drink driving, with former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng having proposed a fine for dangerous driving under the influence of alcohol to RM100,000.00 and an increase in the jail sentence for such an offence to a maximum of 20 instead of the current 10 years under the Road Transport Act, 1987 to the Cabinet.
Former Transport Minister Anthony Loke was scheduled to present the said amendments this month.
In the circumstances, PH will most certainly support such amendments to reflect harsher penalties for offences relating to drink driving in the event same are tabled in Parliament.
However, it is uncertain if Parliament will convene as it usually should in July, having regard to the fact that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government saw it fit to limit the last Parliamentary session to only one day without the tabling of any bills.
It is hoped that the PN government will allow the tabling of such amendments soonest i.e. in the next Parliamentary sitting in July as, if this does not happen, new businesses such as hotels and restaurants would certainly suffer as they would not be able to apply for alcohol licences.
Moreover, the government has not offered any evidence by way of empirical studies or by any other means to show that halting the issuance of new liquor licences will overcome or reduce incidences of fatal accidents on the road due to drink driving.
It is hoped that the said amendments to introduce tougher drink driving laws are tabled sooner rather than later in Parliament which will certainly be supported by PH.
Dated this 2nd of June, 2020.
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT
CHAIRMAN NATIONAL LEGAL BUREAU
DEMOCRATIC ACTION PARTY