No ruling on Muslims working in outlets serving alcohol

(The Star) – The ban on Muslims working in places that sell alcohol in Subang Jaya has taken another twist, with Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim saying it was just a guideline.

He said the ban announced by MPSJ last week was just a reminder to Muslims on the inappropriateness of working in entertainment outlets serving alcohol.

“There is no ruling nor are there any by-laws in the state preventing Muslims from working in such places,” he told reporters after chairing a meeting with 12 local council presidents yesterday.

Khalid said the guideline was only meant for those directly involved in serving alcoholic beverages and not those at management level.

“The idea is to reduce the number of Muslims serving alcohol and has no effect on business owners,” he said.

The matter became a controversy last week when MPSJ announced the ban and issued a statement saying that operators who did not obey would be fined or have their licences revoked.

Following that, Khalid announced the setting up of a special fund to help Muslims who lose their jobs because of the order.

The next day, executive councillor Ronnie Liu asked the council to retract the ban – which was in line with the state Syariah Criminal Enactment 1995 – saying that the state government was concerned about its long-term effect.

Liu, however, came under fire from various sides, including PKR and PAS.

Yesterday, Khalid said the state was looking at how the guideline and reminder could be implemented and turned into a by-law by the local councils.

“We have always supported the Syariah law but we need to carry out further study before it can be implemented,” he said.

He said the study was expected to take about six months and would take into consideration the impact of such a by-law on both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Asked if the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) could take action on the matter, Khalid said the department’s actions were limited to action against workers handling alcohol but not against outlet owners.

“We welcome Jais to do its jobs. We will not interfere in its work as it has the power to take action against Muslim workers, as long it is within its jurisdiction,” he added.

Currently, Khalid said there were 170 premises in Subang Jaya selling alcohol and only 13 of them failed to comply with the Syariah law.