Last Call Already? Exams Curb Alcohol Sales in Rangoon

By Yen Saning 19 March 2015

RANGOON — The Rangoon Division government last week began enforcing a ban on alcohol sales after 10 pm while students in the city sit matriculation exams, and say they will re-enforce restrictions already on the books that prohibit those sales year-round after 11 pm.

Township administrators in Rangoon told restaurants and convenience stores in the commercial capital to stop selling alcoholic drinks after 10 pm to lessen the likelihood of fights breaking out or other alcohol-induced disruptions, according to Aung Lwin, an administrator from the Lin Lunn quarter in Sanchaung Township.

He told The Irrawaddy that he was following the instructions of a superior in the township administration who cited the exams, which ended on Wednesday. On the final day of exams, some drinking establishments in Rangoon had posted signage indicating the last call for drink orders would take place at 9 pm.

“Almost the whole city cuts off alcoholic drink sales at 11 usually,” Aung Lwin said.

The owners of shops that continue to sell alcohol after 11 pm will be responsible for any violence or disturbance linked to the illegal sale, he added.

Though 11 pm is the official cut-off for alcohol sales in Rangoon, a handful of the city’s ubiquitous “beer stations” and several bars and convenience stores routinely flout the restriction without consequence.

Win Kyi, deputy police chief of Rangoon’s West Division police force, claimed the 11 pm cut-off was being enforced, and confirmed that authorities had further curbed drinking hours in the city during the exams.

“We can notify the respective administrators to revoke the license if found in violation. The shop can be shuttered and the license will not be granted next year,” he said.

Myo Min Aung, deputy chairman of Myanmar Retailors Association, said the permitted window for alcohol sales varied from township to township, with some jurisdictions cutting off sales as early as 6 pm.

He took the authorities’ recent tightening of restrictions as an opportunity to criticize the citywide policy of allowing alcohol sales beginning at 6 am.

“It’s wrong to allow selling from 6 am to 6 pm. It’s like encouraging people to drink in the morning. No other country has a system like this.”

“In Thailand, the booze sales start from 4:30 [pm] to 5 pm. People buy it while they are free at night. Here it is the other way around. … If people are asked to buy in the morning, they will drink it. If they don’t have it in their hands, then they don’t have a chance to drink it.”