Chulia Street, renowned for its vibrant restaurants and bars, faced an unexpected setback as the city council mandated a three-day halt on alcohol sales in reverence to the holy festival of Thaipusam. The street, which is steeped in tradition, has been an important route for Thaipusam processions for over a century. While so, local vendors felt that the decision to ban alcohol came rather abruptly.
Bar owners expressed bewilderment and frustration at the abrupt notice. An anonymous proprietor, shocked by the unprecedented move, questioned the lack of prior communication. Another bar owner, situated along the Thaipusam route, was unsure if he too should prohibit selling alcohol, even though he had not received the notice.
A third bar operator reluctantly closed shop because of the notice. He said that he wishes he had been informed prior about this decision, as he would have been more prepared as this business is expensive to operate. The confusion of the notice extended to at least five restaurants and a convenience store in the area.
As per the MBPP’s statement, establishments on various streets, including Queen Street, Chulia Street, Victoria Street, and others, have been directed to halt the sale of alcoholic beverages from January 24 to January 26. The letter cautioned that non-compliance could lead to the revocation of business licences without further notice. In the letter, a licensing officer from the council stated that the decision to prohibit the sale of alcohol was made upon the request of the Penang Hindu Endowments Board on December 4th.
RSN Rayer, the chairman of the Penang Hindu Endowment Board, was noted on Sunday for urging Thaipusam attendees to abstain from consuming alcohol or igniting firecrackers to uphold the sanctity of the religious celebration.
The unanticipated alcohol prohibition has left the business community on Chulia Street in a state of confusion and discontent, prompting appeals for enhanced transparency and foresight from local authorities in coordinating future events affecting businesses in the vicinity.