Drunk-driving cases in 1H20 exceeds previous annual records

pic by BERNAMA

THE cases of driving under the influence of alcohol in the first half of 2020 (1H20) have surpassed previous annual records.

Deputy Housing And Local Government (KPKT) Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Abd Muttalib said between January and June this year, 155 cases of drunk driving had been reported nationwide.

“Accidents caused by drunk drivers have also seen a gradual increase over the last five years,” he told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

To put things into perspective, for 2016 and 2019 alone, there were 161 and 139 drunk-driving cases reported respectively.

Ismail was responding to a supplementary question by Shaharizukirnain Abd Kadir (Perikatan Nasional-Setiu) who asked on the number of drunk-driving cases and what are the steps taken by the ministry to ensure alcohol retailers obey the stipulated rules.

“Between 2016 and 2020, there were 771 cases of accidents caused by the influence of alcohol, which resulted in 44 deaths,” Ismail said.

Shaharizukirnain also asked if the government intends to set up a special task force to ensure compliance to the existing law on alcohol, to which Ismail said his ministry is considering forming one.

“It is a good suggestion and we will look into forming a special task force to overlook the enforcement of laws involving alcohol, similar to the task force formed for drugs-related matters,” he added.

On the initial question by Datuk Mohd Azis Jamman (Parti Warisan Sabah-Sepanggar) who asked to state whether the ministry would review the sale of alcoholic drinks at grocery stores, Ismail said there was a need to do so.

“We have also issued instruction letters on June 9, 2020, informing all state governments to identify premises selling alcoholic beverage and to heighten enforcement to curb the negative effects of alcohol consumption within the community,” he added.

The sale of alcoholic beverages in the country is subjected to the Customs Act and Excise Act, which is under the jurisdiction of the Royal Malaysian Customs Department and Finance Ministry. Ismail said the ministry through local authorities only issues business premise licences under the Trade, Business and Industrial Licensing By-Law after the said licences fulfil the conditions set by the state government, district office, Royal Malaysia Police and the Customs Department.

“The licensing for the sale of alcoholic beverage falls under the jurisdiction of the Customs Department.

“However, the ministry thinks that there is a need to review the sales of alcoholic beverage in grocery stores given that liquors bring more negative effects compared to positive effects to the community,” he added.

In a separate written reply on Wednesday, Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa said the government decided to temporarily freeze the issuance of a new liquor licence until a new guideline and review is done.

“DBKL is also considering Singapore’s liquor licence issuance module which prohibits the sale of liquor between 10.30pm and 7am.

“This study on the preparation of the liquor licence guidelines will be carried out together with other relevant ministries and government agencies such as the Customs Department, KPKT, Health Ministry and Transport Ministry,” he added.