PETALING JAYA,Dec 11: Those who oppose the sale of alcohol in supermarkets and other retail outlets are free to do so, but they have no right to resort to high-handed measures against the sellers.
Instead, community leaders and elected representatives who are against such sales should engage the government to have stricter enforcement, a consumer group said.
Commenting on the shutdown of the non-halal alcohol section at a Jaya Grocer outlet in Puncak Alam, the Malaysia Consumers Movement (MCM) said it was up to the government to develop and enforce rules and regulations for the sale of alcohol, adding that the procedures in place were already very strict.
The group’s secretary-general Sukhdave Singh said sections of the community who opposed the sale of any goods should engage the licensing authority instead or just choose not to frequent such retailers. They should not resort to high-handed action.
“Firstly, we want to make it clear that MCM does not condone the consumption of alcoholic drinks and we are all for tighter regulations to prevent easy access.
“Putrajaya has already placed strict rules for retailers who sell both halal and non-halal items. Taking into consideration and respecting the sensitivity of Muslim consumers, alcoholic beverages are mandated to be segregated in non-halal sections,” he said.
He also said traders would not be selling alcohol if there was no demand in the community.
“Media reports indicate that the area in question has a 90% Malay-Muslim population but we cannot deny the 10% non-Muslim population of their right to purchase alcoholic beverages, if they want.
“Before selling alcoholic beverages, a retailer would require a permit and, in this case, we assume that a permit has already been granted.”
Jeram assemblyman Mohd Shaid Rosli had stirred controversy after submitting a memorandum to the Jaya Grocer in Eco Grandeur, Puncak Alam, in protest against the sale of alcohol in the supermarket.
However, Shaid, who had quit PPBM in August to align himself with Dr Mahathir Mohamad, has now denied forcing the supermarket to shut down the section, saying he merely suggested it on behalf of Puncak Alam residents.
Sukhdave said any elected representative, whether an MP or assemblyman, should be working in the interest of all members of the community in their constituency, not just a selected group.
He added that the assemblyman should have struck a balance between all communities in his constituency, instead of listening to just one section.
“Every elected representative or community leader must accept the fact that Malaysia is a multiracial and multireligious country with individual rights guaranteed by our Federal Constitution. It must be respected.
“Only then will we be able to achieve greater unity and harmony to ensure progress of our nation,” he said.