Trouble brewing in Selangor over beer raid

(The Star) – The brewing beer controversy in Selangor has turned bitter with a PAS state executive council member openly calling for his colleague from the DAP to be removed from chairing the powerful local government portfolio.

Datuk Dr Hassan Ali, also the PAS state chief, yesterday accused Ronnie Liu of meddling in a recent action by the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) to confiscate beer worth RM620 from a 7-Eleven outlet in Section 8 here.

He urged Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim to ensure that the proposed guidelines regulating the sale of beer, expected to be finalised at the end of the month, be made in tandem with provisions in the Syariah Enactment (Selangor) 1995.

Selangor PAS also called for the decision to be implemented in Muslim-majority areas throughout Selangor.

At a press conference yesterday, Dr Hassan said Liu should understand he must not get involved in the operations of local council enforcement officers.

“The actions of the officers are justified based on the sentiments of a Muslim-dominated neighbourhood.

“Our members want him to be removed, and the portfolio given to another exco member, or let the Mentri Besar take over,” he said.

Dr Hassan added that Selangor PAS was pushing for a blanket ban on the sale of beer at 24-hour convenience stores in Muslim-majority areas.

He said the recent action of MBSA enforcement officers must not be questioned, as the seizure was conducted in the interest of Muslims.

When asked about the rights of the Chinese and Indians living in Shah Alam, Dr Hassan said the non-Muslims could easily buy their beer from the many shops outside Muslim-majority areas.

“Our aim is to curb the consumption of beer among Muslims as we have been informed that drinking among schoolchildren and undergraduates is getting out of hand.

“It has come to this because Barisan Nasional did not tackle the problem earlier,” claimed Dr Hassan.

In an immediate reaction, Liu claimed that the beer issue was used to sabotage his credibility and integrity as well as to humiliate him in his capacity as the local government portfolio chairman.

“The seizure of the beer was an over-enthusiastic action on the part of the MBSA licensing director.

“As the exco member in charge of the local government portfolio, I have the right to question the actions of the local authorities. Selangor PAS cannot stop that.

“No local authority can be bigger than the state executive council,” he told a press conference at the State Secretariat yesterday.

MBSA mayor Datuk Mazalan Md Noor said the outlet operator had been urged to cooperate and not sell beer as Muslims were uneasy over the matter, with a surau located only a mere 50m away.

“Nearby residents and councillors had urged MBSA to take action because schoolchildren were also drinking beer.

“We understand we do not have laws to stop the selling of beer, but we asked the operator to cooperate,” said Mazalan, who appeared at the press conference together with Liu.

He added that the 100-odd convenience stores from Section 1 to 24 in Shah Alam had been issued with letters urging them to stop selling alcoholic beverages, as the outlets were in Muslim-majority neighbourhoods.