The Human Resources Ministry wants all restaurants in the country to only recruit locals as cooks from July 1, says it's minister M Kulasegaran (above).
He, however, said all operators would be given up to the end of the year to ensure only local chefs work in their restaurants.
He said this was as the regulation permitting locals as cooks in all restaurants will be effective from January 1, 2019.
"So we want locals to be employed as cooks. There will be no compromise... we are giving you notice to do it by December 31. If you don’t do it, we can’t help it," he told Bernama News Channel yesterday.
Earlier, Kulasegaran held a meeting with the Indian Restaurant Operators Association (Prisma) in Petaling Jaya.
He said the ministry will be holding more meetings with Prisma as well as the Indian Muslim Restaurant Operators Association (Presma) soon on the implementation of local cooks in restaurants.
Kulasegaran said the move would be able to reduce the dependence of local restaurants on foreign labour and ensure the quality of local food served.
He said the ministry would follow the footsteps of the Penang state government in banning foreigners as cooks in food shops, restaurants as well as stalls around the island.
Since 2014, the Penang state government prohibited foreigners to work as cooks at hawker stalls in the effort to protect national food heritage.
Commenting on the statement, Prisma president P Muthusamy said the decision was quite shocking and would have major implications for food shop operators.
“In the past few years, we have been facing problems with manpower. In fact, more than 500 restaurants had closed during the period due to shortage of workers,” he said.
Muthusamy hopes the ministry will hold further discussions with food shop operators nationwide before implementing the decision.
Presma president Ayub Khan said the problem of workers in restaurants was getting more serious as no locals wanted to work in restaurants.
“We advertised, offering a salary of up to RM2,500 but no one came. It is not easy to find local workers for restaurants,” he said.