The Malacca state government will consider the Human Resources Ministry’s recommendation that restaurant operators in the country hire only local cooks from July 1, said Chief Minister Adly Zahari.
He said the suggestion was viewed as having a positive impact on the state tourism sector and would generate more job opportunities in the food industry for locals.
"The suggestion will be taken into account in various aspects as it can help us to maintain the Malacca food tradition that should be syonymous with the people of the state.
“In my opinion, it will not have a negative impact on the tourism industry because through such a measure, we can preserve our local history, heritage and food tradition besides involving the locals in the economic development,” he told reporters at the Malacca state government Aidilfitri open house in Malacca last night.
He was commenting on the recent call by Human Resources Minister M Kula Segaran for restaurants in the country to hire only local cooks, which received various criticisms, including on social media.
Adly added that the suggestion should be viewed positively as it has many merits, especially in curbing the monopoly of outsiders or foreigners in the food business sector.
Survey: Don’t rush
Meanwhile, a Bernama survey revealed opinions that the proposal needed to be studied thoroughly to ensure it does not cause inconvenience to any parties.
Despite being seen as a government proactive measure to reduce dependence of local restaurants on foreign workers and maintain the qualify of food, generally many opined that it should not be implemented in a rush.
Chief executive officer of Kayu Nasi Kandar Restaurant, Sirajudin Mohamed Mydin said the implementation of such a regulation should take into account the problems to be faced by local restaurant operators, especially to find replacements in a short time.
"It would not be easy for us (food traders) to find a good cook in a short period of time. Although, we can provide training for the new workers (locals) it takes time to develop a skilful cook,” he told Bernama today.
A local restaurant operator, Jemain Sakat, 54, said the suggestion was justified but should not be implemented without warning due to the lack of local manpower.
"Our (local) people do not want to work overtime and their physical endurance is not the same like foreign workers apart from wage factor and a preference to work in hotels as a career path,” said Jemain who has been in the food business over the last 10 years.
Restaurant operator and cook, Mohamad Zulkifli Abdul Ghani, 28, agreed that the proposed policy should be implemented if the cooking skills and commitment of the locals matched those of foreigners.
“It’s hard to find those (locals) willing to work for more than eight hours,” said the Kedah native.
Private sector employee, Karmani Ibrahim also agreed with the proposal but said foreign cooks with outstanding employee criteria should be have their services retained.
“Actually it is not a problem if the foreign worker practices good work ethics and maintains good hygiene,” he added.