PETALING JAYA: Restaurant operators and consumer representatives have demanded a clarification from the Human Resource Ministry on employing local cooks only by year-end.
Federal Territories Malay Food Operators president Ayob Abd Majib said the ministry should have conducted a dialogue with all stakeholders.
“I have received texts from my members across the country who are worried that they would need to close their shops. This is because 80% of our cooks are from Thailand who specialises in Thai cuisine.
“The minister should specify if the policy is meant for all restaurants or just hawker stalls. He should be clear on the issue as it is not easy to run a business and have a sudden policy change without a proper guideline.
“The timing given is also too short. How can we have enough local manpower in six months?
“We are currently drafting a memorandum which will be submitted to the ministry and prime minister too. We have voted for change and they should hear us from the business sector,” he added.
Muslim Restaurant Owners Association president Ayoob Khan Muhamad Yakub similarly echoed Ayob’s sentiment.
“It would be feasible if the ministry can find a way to provide local cooks. We won’t have to pay the levy for foreign workers then.
“The minister must understand that we can’t change the mindset of locals if they want to work for an upscale restaurant to earn extra income,” he said.
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) deputy president Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman also stressed that niche markets that cater specifically for specific dishes should be taken into consideration.
“There are restaurants that serve Japanese meals which need special skills that can’t be learned in a short time. There’s also the issue of hygiene and health. The time given is too short. It cannot be a blanket policy,” he said.
Kuala Lumpur Hawkers and Petty Traders Association president Datuk Ang Say Tee hinted that businesses may be forced to fold if they are unable to replace their staff in time.
It is understood that the ministry will issue a statement on the matter on Monday.
Yesterday, Human Resource Minister M. Kulasegaran said all restaurants in the country must only recruit locals as cooks from July 1.
He, however, said all operators would be given up to the end of the year to ensure only local cooks work in their restaurants.