Finance Ministry should not hand over authority on liquor & beer sale licensing to state governments: DAP Sec-Gen Guan Eng

Press Statement By DAP Secretary-General And MP For Bagan Lim Guan Eng In Kuala Lumpur On 9.12.2021:

The Finance Ministry Should Not Hand Over To The Respective State Governments But Continue To Postpone The Enforcement Of Licensing On The Sale Of Liquor And Beer In Coffee Shops And Restaurants.

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul bin Tengku Abdul Aziz’s reply in Parliament to Damansara MP Tony Pua that the Customs Department’s directive was not revoked as claimed by Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong, but will be updated to allow the state government’s respective State Licensing Authority to decide whether to impose licensing fees on the sale of beer by coffee shops and restaurants. Wee had implied that the matter was resolved, after claiming that the Customs Department directive that coffee shops and restaurants must obtain an alcohol license costing up to RM1,300 to sell beer was revoked.

The Customs department had earlier issued circulars reversing its directive dated Aug 24, 1993, which instructed postponement of the enforcement of licensing on the sales of liquor, besides beer and stout, in coffee shops and restaurants. Therefore, the Customs Department concluded that the retail sale of beer, whether in restaurants or coffee shops, including Malaysia-themed coffee shops, need to be licensed.

The Finance Ministry should not hand over the power to decide to the respective state government but continue to postpone the enforcement of licensing of beer in coffee shops and restaurants. In other words, the postponement should be reinstated and not reversed. This power is under the purview of the Finance Ministry, including the penalty for selling liquor without a license can be fined RM50,000 under the 1976 Excise Act, and not under state laws.

By not revoking the circulars by the Customs Department as claimed by Wee but letting the respective State Licensing Authority to decide whether to obtain a license to sell beer is worse off than the previous position where Customs Department and the Finance Ministry did not recommend the requirement of a license. The coffee shops and restaurant associations had previously expressed fears that 60% out of 15,000 restaurants and 80% out of 20,000 coffee shops nation-wide may cease selling beer if the new regulations come into force.

This would reduce the avenue for many non-Muslims to enjoy their beer in legally licensed shops as normal because operators may not think it is worth paying between RM840 and RM1,320 for a license when they can hardly earn sufficient profits from selling beer. This interferes in the freedom and affects the customary lifestyle and normal business practices of non-Muslims that has been in force since Merdeka without any public complaints.

By letting state governments decide, there will be some state governments influenced by PAS extremist policies that will implement these new regulations on non-Muslim coffee shops and restaurants which they had no powers previously. So far only the PH state governments have stated that they will not disrupt the current practice and therefore not require licensing of the sale of beer in restaurants and coffee shops. Who will bear responsibility for the additional costs and inconvenience faced by coffee shops and restaurants should some state governments impose the licensing requirement?

LIM GUAN ENG


民主行动党秘书长兼峇眼区国会议员林冠英于2021年12月9日在吉隆坡发表文告:

财政部委实不应将权力下放给州政府,而是应该继续推迟咖啡店和餐厅销售啤酒需要酒牌的执法。

财政部长东姑扎夫鲁在国会回答白沙罗国会议员潘俭伟时表示,关税局的指令并未如交通部长魏家祥所声称的那样被撤销,而是将进行更新,以允许各州政府旗下负责发放执照的单位决定,是否取消对咖啡店和餐厅销售啤酒一事征收牌照费。较早前魏家祥暗示此事已经获得解决,他声称,有关关税局下令咖啡店和餐厅必须缴付 1300 令吉的酒牌费才能出售啤酒一事已经被撤销。

关税局此前曾发出通告,推翻志期 1993 年 8 月 24 日的指令,即暂缓咖啡店和餐厅销售除啤酒和黑啤外酒类须有酒牌的执法行动。对此,关税局的结论是,啤酒的零售,无论是在餐厅还是咖啡店,包括马来西亚各主题咖啡店,都需要获得酒牌。

财政部委实不应将决定权下放给各州政府,而是应该继续推迟咖啡店和餐厅啤酒牌照的执行。换言之,应该恢复“推迟”而不是直接推翻。这项权力属于财政部的职权范围,包括根据 1976 年的消费税法,无牌销售酒类可被罚款 5万令吉,这条款并非州法律的范畴。

事实上,现在并没有像魏家祥所声称的那样,即关税局已撤销指示,而是让各州属旗下发放执照的单位来决定销售啤酒是否得申请酒牌,这比之前的状况更糟,至少关税局和财政部并不建议要求酒牌。咖啡店和餐厅公会会此前曾表示担心,一旦新规定生效,全国 15万000 家餐馆中有 60% 和 2万 家咖啡店中有 80% 可能会因此停止销售啤酒。

这将让广大的非穆斯林少了许多去处,无法再像往常一样在合法许可的商店内享用啤酒,毕竟当经营者认为很难从销售啤酒中获得足够的利润,自然不会为酒牌支付 840 至 1320 令吉。这显然已干扰了人民的自由,并影响了自独立以来一直在进行,且没有遭受公众投诉的非穆斯林生活习俗和正常商业行为。

如今,有关单位把球踢给州政府,让州政府做出决定,一些州政府将受到伊党极端主义政策的影响,对非穆斯林咖啡店和餐馆实施这些新规定,而这些新规定是他们之前没有权力落实的。到目前为止,只有希望联盟州政府表示他们不会破坏当前的做法,即餐馆和咖啡店销售啤酒并不需要酒牌。但是,一旦某些州政府强加酒牌要求,咖啡店和餐馆所面临的额外费用和不便,将会由谁来承担呢?

林冠英

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