Every Malaysian loves hanging out at mamak restaurants, regardless of the time. Whether it’s just for casual hangouts, watching football, or ending a night of clubbing before going home, mamaks are definitely one of the things that define Malaysian culture.
So, it’s understandable that the possibility of these restaurants not being open for 24 hours has caused many locals to be upset. This is due to new health policies that could possibly be enforced starting next year.
Last Friday (22nd December), Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi stated that 13 health policies were discussed by the Cabinet Committee for a Health-Promoting Environment and could be implemented next year and 2019, according to the New Straits Times. One of these policies included possibly having mamak restaurants close at 12 midnight.
No more supper then? 🙁
In response to this possible change in opening hours, the Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (KIMMA)’s president, Datuk Syed Ibrahim Kader called the move “nonsensical” and stated that mamak restaurants do more than just serve food to Malaysians, saying,
“Yes, the ministry is putting efforts to fight the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs). But limiting mamak restaurants operating hours to midnight will not resolve the problem.”
“There are other factors to consider, one is university students. These students hold study groups and discussions at a lot of mamak restaurants that are open 24 hours, seven days a week. It is a safe environment where boys and girls can mingle. What’s going to happen if you take this away from them? They may go somewhere else that isn’t as safe.”
He added that for Muslims, the early closure of these establishments could even lead to acts of khalwat and arrests from religious officers.
“For Muslim students, are they going to go to a friend’s house with boys and girls mingling around (in an enclosed space) unchaperoned?”
“What are they going to do next? Tell people you can’t cook after midnight? And what about during Ramadhan month, when people need to have their sahur to fast the next day? Who is going to provide the food service for them?” Syed Ibrahim continued.
On top of that, the KIMMA president also brought up how this move could even be detrimental to the tourism industry. Since we are known for our food and most tourists are amazed by our 24-hour eateries, this change in operating hours could negatively impact the industry.
Apart from limiting restaurant opening hours, other new health policies include taxing sweet drinks, exempting gym operators from paying corporate tax, banning advertisements that promote food and drinks that are high in fat, salt and sugar.
Syed Ibrahim, who opposes the shortened working hours, has urged the Ministry of Health to look into changing this policy, saying,
“We are going to write a request to the ministry to ask them to re-consider before implementing the policy. We are even willing to participate in a discussion.”
What do you think of this possible change in mamak opening hours? Let us know in the comments below!