U-turn: Govt has revoked upcoming beer license policy for kopitiams & coffee shops

Just days prior, the Malaysian government was said to have instructed all coffee shops and kopitiams to apply for an annually renewable liquor license in order for them to legally sell beer to patrons. The new ruling, which was supposed to apply to all kopitiam and coffee shop proprietors nationwide, would cost between RM840 to RM1,320, depending on the operating hours of the business premise.

Govt u-turns on beer license for coffee shops and restaurants

Well, in a surprising new development, it has been announced by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong that the ruling has now been effectively revoked, and will no longer apply. Malaysiakini reports that Datuk Dr Wee had earlier contacted Finance Minister, Tengku Zafrul, who is currently abroad in Singapore on work related affairs, over the recent furor created by the enforcement of the new beer license that was slated to come into effect in January 2022.

According to him, the Finance Minister confirms that they have instructed the Customs Department to revoke the impending liqour license policy.

Discarded beer bottles at a kopitiam table.
Source: TODAY Online

“Zafrul confirmed that his ministry had indeed cancelled the directive and he promised to once again instruct the Customs Department to adhere to its decision.” he mentions in a statement.

The move was said to have been done after both Datuk Dr Wee and Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Lim Ban Hong had both been engaged in talks with restaurant and coffee shop owners over complaints regarding the new liquor policy. He mentions that relevant business owners had apparently not been briefed by the Customs Department before the implementation of the new license policy, which has led to much anger.

“I communicated with Zafrul and the ministry issued an official letter on November 23rd to inform the department to cancel the measure as the ministry had authorised all states, the menteri besar, and chief ministers to deal with licensing issues via local authorities.”

“As such, the Finance Ministry had revoked an 7th April letter by the department which asked the operators to apply for a liquor license before 31st December.” he adds.

State governments will decide on the issue of liquor licenses

This would mean that the matter regarding liqour licenses will now be in the hands of state authorities, instead of the federal government. Datuk Dr Wee’s statement also adds that the Customs Department does not in fact have any authority to unilaterally instruct restaurants and coffee shops to apply for any liquor licenses.

Patrons waiting to be seated at a kopitiam.
Source: The Star

The earlier ruling had prompted much chagrin from both members of the opposition and with private business owners who lamented the late-timing that the liqour licenses were announced in, which effectively only granted all restaurants and coffee shops roughly one month’s time to apply and receive approval for a license to sell beer.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng has even gone to the extent of accusing the government of adopting PAS’ extremist governance policies, with the new license arrangement. MCA leaders, who are under the Barisan Nasional coalition, have similarly expressed their disapproval, citing that the new move only seeks to contribute to added tension between races.

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Also read: LATEST: All M’sian coffee shops & kopitiams can no longer sell beer without a license starting 2022

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