Making policy on the fly

It looks like our Federal Territories Minister is hopelessly confused.

In announcing the closure of pubs and restaurants that serve alcohol for the remainder of the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) period, for example, he opined that “Pubs that serve food are not restaurants. Even if it is a restaurant that has a pub, it is not considered a restaurant.” [The Star, 5th May 2020]

Worse still, his decision to close all establishments that serve alcohol during the CMCO period appears to be based on nothing more than hearsay – someone apparently told him that some customers in a pub somewhere were not observing the rules about social distancing. Instead of investigating the matter and appropriately sanctioning the establishment concerned, he closes all establishments that serve alcohol. 

If he applied the same yardstick to other establishments, he would have to close all restaurants or factories if one of them is found to be negligent.

If the rules are obeyed, what reason can there be to close pubs or restaurants that serve alcohol? After all, the objective of CMCO is to contain the spread of a virus, not impose the religious views of one group upon the rest of us. It looks like whenever alcohol is mentioned, knee-jerks responses are the norm.

It is yet another example of the arbitrary use of power and of making decisions on the fly that is becoming a hallmark of this backdoor government. 

Fortunately, we still have some professionals left in the bureaucracy to correct the impulsive and irresponsible actions of our ministers. DBKL has now clarified that restaurants with valid liquor licences are allowed to operate under CMCO.

[Dennis Ignatius | Kuala Lumpur | 7th May 2020]

Published by Dennis Ignatius

Passionate Malaysian | Former Ambassador and career diplomat | Political affairs columnist | Human rights and international affairs commentator

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