Simplistic to tout alcohol sales ban as solution to drunk driving — Dr Yii

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING, June 2: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii expresses concern over Minister of Housing and Local Government Zuraida Kamaruddin’s statement which did not rule out the possibility of cancelling or freezing licences for the sale of alcohol following recent cases of car accidents caused by drunk driving.

In a statement today, Dr Yii acknowledged the call was echoed by Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa who said that the government should stop issuing new licences to sell liquor until a guideline and legal revision can be done.

“Today a directive was issued by DBKL (Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur) that all new applications for alcohol licensing will be freezed (sic) immediately,” Dr Yii pointed out, adding that such a call has been consistent among the two biggest blocs in Perikatan Nasional (PN) — Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) and United Malays National Organisation (Umno).

“While it is important to stress that the issue of drunk driving is an important issue that we need to seriously address and address holistically, the victims and families of heinous act should be taken care of and justice should be served to those involved, especially if it caused unnecessary harm and death.

“However, the issue is complex and real long-term solutions (are only possible) through a combination of proper education, incentives, social messaging, engagement and of course heavier punishments.

“A mere ban or even suspension will not address the issue, but the solutions should take a different holistic approach without infringing or taking away the rights of others especially in a plural and multicultural country like Malaysia,” Dr Yii emphasised.

He pointed out that under Pakatan Harapan (PH), the government had been ready to double the maximum jail time for drunk drivers to 20 years and impose a minimum of 6 years, lower the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rate from 80mg to 50mg, and even revoke driving licences of those that caused death. Other than that, a comprehensive campaign to raise public awareness and education was planned to holistically address the issue.

Government statistics show that from 2011 to 2019, there were 47 drink-driving related road deaths in Malaysia, Dr Yii added.

“The call by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government is concerning because it may run the risk of infringing the rights of the state which in general has the jurisdiction of local council and business licensing.

“In Sarawak, we have the Local Government Regulation 1963 and the Local Authority Ordinance which give the state discretion and autonomy in the running of local government matters,” Dr Yii highlighted. — DayakDaily