PETALING JAYA - More than 20 brands of cheap foreign beer with high alcohol content are easily available in the Klang Valley and various parts of Selangor, according to a survey carried out by The Star.
The products carry labels claiming to be "ultra strong, extra super strong and foreign beer" with illustrations of a seahorse, cyclone, horse, bison, viper, bear, crest and rock star.
Sold at between RM4.29 (for a 330ml can) and RM7 (for a 500ml can), the beer with alcohol levels ranging from 5 per cent to 16.8 per cent are said to be brought in from countries like China, the Philippines, Thailand, the Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Germany and France.
Among the brands are Jopen, 3 Horses, Volcano, Trio Turbo, Eagle, Clippers, Viper, San Miguel, Cyclone, Bison, Seahorse, Martens, Yanjing, Luxus, Rocks, Bear, Hollandia, Oettinger, Damburger, Royal Dutch and Flying Dutchman. They are openly displayed in coffeeshops, convenience stores, sundry shops, medicinal shops and supermarkets in areas like Section 14, SS2, Kota Damansara, Kelana Jaya, Bangsar, Brickfields, Klang and Batu Caves.
A coffeeshop owner here said the cans and bottles all had duty paid (DP) stamps affixed and as far as he was concerned, the beer was legal. However, he noted that the beer could have been brought into the country without detection because the brands were not well-known.
"I get a few crates from my suppliers," he said, adding that the foreign beer was popular among both locals and migrant workers. He said if sin tax was to be increased in Budget 2014, the price of the foreign beer would follow suit.
"But it will still be a lot cheaper than the made-in-Malaysia brands. Foreign workers won't touch our locally-made beer because the high excise duty makes it so expensive."
Whether or not the beer caused health problems, he said, depended on the individual drinkers' tolerance to alcohol.
"If you are a regular beer drinker, you won't get headaches or a hangover," he assured reporters.