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D-Day For Kopitiams: Can’t Sell Beers Without A License Starting 1 January

D-Day For Kopitiams: Can’t Sell Beers Without A License Starting 1 January

Coffee shops operators need more time to adjust to the new ruling.

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Lately, the prices of goods have been rising as if there is no tomorrow. 

And soon, people might have to pay more for beer as well. 

The reason: Kopitiams will be required to get a license to sell beer starting 1 January next year. 

Petaling Jaya Coffeeshop Association president Keu Kok Meng was quoted by the Vibes as saying that coffee shops selling beer will be required to apply for a new license from 1 January.

The requirement is part of a new federal government policy, he said.

Ume, or plum wine, is among the liquors popular in Malaysia. (Credit: Fernando Fong)

A Nasty Surprise

Keu said businesses will appeal against the decision and have written to the authorities as they felt that the notice given is too short.

Accordingly, they only knew about it last month when during a briefing by the Customs Department who informed them of the decision.

Coffee shops will need to cough up between RM840 and RM1,320 for the annual license fee. 

The longer the operating hour, the more they need to pay for the license.

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.

Petaling Jaya Coffeeshop Association president Keu Kok Meng on the beer license

He added that the Customs Department had informed the Finance Ministry of the decision much earlier in March. 

A coffee shop in Kuala Lumpur. (Credit: Fernando Fong)

The 11th Hour

Keu said businesses will appeal against the decision and have written to the authorities. 

They felt that the notice given is too short. 

He also highlighted that many coffee shops have already gone bust due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nor do they have any idea on how to go about applying for the license, despite the deadline approaches. 

In other words, the new policy could not have come at the worst time. 

DAP Weighs In

Meanwhile, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng blamed PAS for starting the whole thing with its so-called extremist policies. 

The former Finance Minister was quoted by FMT as saying that the government is making an issue of the sale of alcoholic beverages in coffee shops and restaurants.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng. (Credit: Malay Mail)

Such rulings will bring nothing but unnecessary restrictions and interfere in the normal lifestyle and business practices of non-Muslims. 

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng on the beer license

In any case, the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) had taken the lead in curbing alcohol sales.

Sundry shops, convenience stores, and Chinese medicine halls in the capital are barred from selling hard liquor starting this month. 

READ MORE: DBKL Bans Liquor Sales, Sets Restrictions On When Beer Can Be Sold And Malaysians Are Divided

The Best Bet For Cheap Beer

For certain, kopitiams has been a popular place for people to indulge in happy hours. 

It is not hard to see why since people can buy beer for a significantly lower price than in bars, not to mention the licensing requirements that the bars require. 

After all, many kopitiams do not require as many overheads compared to a bar, in terms of manpower and interior fittings. 

The coffee shops would undoubtedly find it a pain to apply for a license should their pleas fall on deaf ears. 

Such is life. 

Jägermeister, a German digestif made with herbs and spices, has an alcohol by volume of 35%. (Credit: Fernando Fong)

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