Closing Mamak Restaurants Early May Lead To Khalwat, Says KIMMA

The Health Ministry may limit the operation hours of 24-hour eateries in Malaysia to midnight in their efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle.

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The Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (KIMMA) is against limiting the operating hours of mamak restaurants and 24-hour eateries to midnight as it may lead to acts of khalwat

KIMMA president, Datuk Syed Ibrahim, believes that mamak restaurants provide a safe environment for people, especially for university students in the nighttime.

"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," he said as reported by Malay Mail Online yesterday, 25 December.

"What's going to happen if you take this away from them? They may go somewhere else that isn't safe.

"For Muslim students, are they going to a friend's house with boys and girls mingling around, unchaperoned?" questioned Datuk Syed.

He opined that such situations could lead to acts of khalwat (close proximity) and arrests by religious officers.

Datuk Syed was commenting on the Health Ministry's latest initiative to fight non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as stroke, heart attack, cancer, diabetes, asthma, and chronic respiratory diseases with a new set of policies to promote a healthier lifestyle. 

One of it is limiting the operating hours of eateries in the country to midnight. Datuk Syed thinks that there's more to these restaurants than just providing food.

He also stressed that changing the closing hours of eateries may not necessarily help with the ministry's aim of creating a healthier society, and that the government should instead educate Malaysians about better eating habits

Malaysians will just end up cooking and snacking at home if there are no restaurants open late at night, added Datuk Syed. 

"What are they going to do next? Tell people you can't cook after midnight? And what about during Ramadan month, when people need to have their sahur to fast the next day? Who is going to provide food service for them?" he asked.

He also pointed out that limiting the operating hours of restaurants in the country may affect the tourism industry

"We are known for our food throughout the world. Tourists come here and are amazed that food is available 24 hours a day. Have they thought how this would impact the tourism industry?" 

Another concern Datuk Syed raised was regarding factory workers who have irregular working hours and always turn to mamak restaurants for hot meals. 

"Where are these workers going to get their meal if they can't drop by mamak restaurants during their break? What about the security guards on night watch? Who is going to feed them?" Datuk Syed questioned. 

He said that KIMMA will prepare a counter-proposal and submit it to the Health Ministry when the government makes an official announcement on the new policies. 

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Dato' Seri Zahid Hamidi informed that government has drawn up 13 new health-related policies to be implemented in 2018 and 2019

New Straits Times (NST) reported that the ministry is currently in the process of discussing the key policies.

It was reported that NCDs account for 73% of the deaths in Malaysia, with hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases being the main killers. 

The 13 key policies the Health Ministry may implement to build a healthier Malaysia.

Image via New Straits Times

Do you think limiting restaurants' opening hours can help reduce health problems in the country? Let us know in the comment section below.

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