Earlier today, 23 June, a day after Minister of Human Resources M. Kula Segaran said that all restaurant cooks in the country would need to be locals by 31 December, Kula has softened his stance
Kula, who had said that all restaurants would be required to hire only local cooks from 1 January 2018, saying "there will be no compromise," has now said it's just a proposal which still requires discussion with stakeholders and that no firm decision had been made, reported The Malaysian Insight.
According to him, the call for restaurants to hire local cooks was "just a suggestion" and that a date, 31 December 2018, was given because there needs to be a cut off period for restaurants to act on the suggestion.
The Human Resource Minister has said that the Ministry will be "reasonable" in getting food operators to hire local cooks, adding that they will "engage with the various stakeholders before the final process", reported The Star Online.
After the announcement yesterday, restaurant operators and food owners associations had expressed shock, with people also questioning if the ban also apply to high-end restaurants
The ban would cover only local eateries, Kula clarified, and not to foreign food restaurants, high-end restaurants and 5-star hotels which require specialised cooks.
"You can't have a French restaurant hiring local guys, it obviously needs to employ people who are well versed in the cuisine," he told the Malaysian Insight.
Kula said that hawker stalls, Indian-Muslim restaurants and coffee shops are regarded as local outlets and their kitchen workforce should be made up of only Malaysians.
He stressed that the Human Resource Ministry is being "reasonable". To Kula's credit, the proposal is in line with Pakatan Harapan's election manifesto, in which they have pledged to reduce dependency on foreign workers by lowering their numbers.
The Star Online reported the Minister saying that Kuala Lumpur actually already has existing by-laws that require hawkers must be Malaysian.
Under the Licensing of Hawkers (Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur) By-Laws 2016, all KL hawkers must be Malaysian and no foreign workers can be employed.
"We just want it to be properly regulated, and have the same laws applied to all states. We want to be consistent," Kula Segaran told The Star Online.