It turns out that the Customs Department had no authority to demand coffeeshops to pay for a liquor license at all.
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In a spectacular turnaround of events, the retail sale of alcoholic beverages no longer need to meet liquor licence requirements.
The Star reported that the Customs Department will rescind its directive to enforce the liquor licence requirements.
The instruction for the cancellation came from the Finance Ministry.
Accordingly, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong had spoken to Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz on the matter.
He confirmed that the Finance Ministry had indeed cancelled the above directive and promised to instruct the Customs Department to abide by this decision.Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong on the turnaround
The matter was brought to the MCA president’s attention – and that of Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Lim Ban Hong – by Malaysia-Singapore Coffeeshop Proprietors Association president Wong Teu Hoon.
Previously, coffeeshop operators said they will appeal against the decision as they felt that the notice given is too short.
Wee recalled that he had in fact spoken to Tengku Zafrul on the matter three weeks ago.
Subsequently, on 23 November, the Finance Ministry issued an official letter to instruct the Customs Department to cancel the directive.
The Ayer Hitam MP said the Finance Ministry had in 1977 authorized all Menteri Besar and Chief Ministers to handle this matter.
It is under their jurisdiction through the Licensing Board of their respective local government.
The Customs Department is part of the Licensing Board of each state and has no power to instruct restaurants and coffee shops to apply for liquor licenses. Therefore, the Finance Ministry cancelled the circular issued on April 7 which requested business owners to apply for liquor licenses from the Customs Department before Dec 31.Transport Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong on the turnaround
Wee noted that Malaysia is a multi-racial and multi-religious country.
As such, non-Muslims have the right to drink alcohol, which should be respected, he said.
In any case, public opinions remain divided.