Drinkers in Johor spoilt for cheap choice

JOHOR BARU - More than a dozen sundry shops here are openly selling an array of foreign beer brands.

The beer, which comes with the Customs Department duty-paid stickers, are mainly purchased by locals commuting between Johor and Singapore.

Besides the shops, many also frequent The Zone duty-free complex near the Causeway to buy beer and other liquor.

Mathew Ching, 24, who works in a shipyard in Singapore, said he usually stopped by the duty-free centre four times a week to buy his beer which was more than 50 per cent cheaper.

"I get to drink at the back of the complex.

"There is usually a huge crowd of fellow drinkers after work," he said.

Another local working in Singa­pore, P. Sivam, 32, said he preferred to buy his foreign beer from the sundry shops due to the large variety.

"I am not sure if the duties are paid but all seem to have the Customs stickers. Anyway, the price is comparable to local beer," he said, adding that he liked to try out the foreign beers due to their high alcohol content.

He added that he sometimes enjoyed discounts when there were "promotions" for foreign brands.

"I believe that most of this beer is smuggled or fake as some the beer does not taste good," he added.

In Kota Kinabalu, local beer is the preference in Sabah as they are readily available at reasonable prices, said food outlet operators.

They said foreign beers were available but in small amounts as many people still preferred Malaysian-made brews, said Sabah West coast Coffeeshop Operators Association chairman Yong Tze Yun.

A restaurant operator here said local beer brands were available at between RM11 (S$4) and RM13 for three cans. These are usually brought in from duty-free Labuan.

Sabah Customs Department director Datuk Dr Janathan Kandok said his office had not received any complaints from the liquor agents or public about the foreign beer flooding the Sabah market.