MP SPEAKS | I take note of the issues related to the current "total lockdown" that have been raised by former deputy minister of international trade and industry and Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming as reported in Free Malaysia Today, today (June 7).
Among the issues raised by him is the confusion over the ban on the sale of alcohol and the permission to sell cigarettes which drew attention from the public. He also claimed that, as the Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (MDTCA), I never issued any statements on this matter to clear the air.
He also claimed that MDTCA "maintained an elegant silence" on the issue of car workshop operation which has also caused confusion among business owners, who were clueless on whether they were given permission to operate. This has caused many workshops to be closed and caused unnecessary inconveniences to many parties, including consumers.
First of all, I would like to express my appreciation for Ong’s comments and concerns pertaining to issues related to my ministry. However, allow me to explain the several inaccurate points in his statement.
His claim that I never issued any statement to explain the issue related to the sale of alcohol and cigarettes is not true at all. On May 31, I issued an official statement through all media to explain the essential services under the trade sector that are allowed to operate during the "total lockdown" period from June 1 to June 14.
In the official statement, the list of essential services that have been authorised to operate has been clearly stated, in addition to the standard operating procedures (SOP) that must be complied with by all parties involved.
In the list provided, it has been explained that convenience stores/mini markets and grocery stores are categorised as essentials and given permission to operate. It simply means that all items in these convenience stores, therefore, can be sold to consumers, including alcohol and cigarettes.
In convenience stores, liquor is sold among other items in beverage sections and therefore, can be sold to consumers. It must be stressed here that stores selling only liquor products are not allowed to operate.
Following the National Security Council (NSC)'s decision to close all liquor factories nationwide as announced by Senior Minister (Security) Ismail Sabri Yaakob on June 1, MDTCA has also ordered all premises that sell only liquor, to be closed during this total lockdown period.
I have also explained to the media and this statement was also shared on my Facebook page that the Ministry took note of the NSC’s decision which has allowed the sale of liquor in convenience stores such as 7-Eleven, given that the premises have the license to sell liquor.
Again, only factories and shops selling only liquor dedicatedly are not allowed to operate. The sale of cigarettes in convenience stores is also allowed as the convenience store has been listed as "essential".
On the issue of car workshops, the media statement issued also clarified that vehicle workshop services, maintenance, and spare parts are listed as activities that are allowed to operate with the capacity of employees limited to 60 percent only. However, car wash services are not allowed.
Therefore, the allegation that the Ministry is keeping mum on these issues is baseless. Information related to sectors allowed to operate has also been widely disseminated through various platforms, including on MDTCA’s website and social media as well as media announcements.
I hope this explanation can provide beneficial input to everyone involved. This is a difficult time faced by all parties and I sincerely hope that each and every one of us will stop sensationalising various issues that can cause unrest among the public.
During this difficult situation, it is more important for us to work together to help restore the situation from further aggravation.
ALEXANDER NANTA LINGGI is the Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs and the PBB MP for Kapit in Sarawak.
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