Backlash compels Malaysia to ban beer brewing during COVID-19 lockdown

Heineken and Carlsberg will have to close their Malaysia-based breweries to comply with an ongoing lockdown, the Muslim-majority country’s government announced on Monday afternoon.

Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said during a news conference that the decision was taken after the government was criticised for allowing the factories to operate.

“Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp groups and many more were questioning why the Heineken and Carlsberg factories were still allowed to be open,” Ismail said.

Both the youth wing of Bersatu, the party of Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, and the Parti Islam se Malaysia (PAS), which is part of the governing coalition, had questioned whether the breweries should be listed among the “essential” businesses allowed to operate during the lockdown, which is aimed at stemming a recent surge in cases in Malaysia to 3,662.

The restrictions have hit several sectors, with the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA), an industry body, complaining that they leave its producers operating at 50-per-cent capacity during the lockdown.

MARGMA believes that the coronavirus pandemic will drive demand for rubber gloves up from 298 billion pieces in 2019 to 345 billion this year, with its members ready to supply 65 per cent of global needs.

PAS said that breweries should not be permitted to operate while “denying the importance of other industries that is more reasonable to be preferred than alcoholic drinks.”

Heineken Malaysia stated that it has “an obligation to ensure continuous supply” of its products and “maintain the employment” of its people. (NAN)

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