Sabah Man Says His Eatery Was Closed But Still Got Fined For Allegedly Operating Past 7PM

At the time of the incident, which occurred at 8pm, the eatery had stopped taking orders at 6.30pm, the owner claims, adding that he tried explaining the same to the authorities but was left frustrated.

Cover image via KK Food Street 為吃街 (Facebook)

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Over the week, an eatery owner in Asia City, Kota Kinabalu was slapped with a fine of RM2,000 for allegedly operating past permitted hours. He, however, claims that his outlet was already closed.

The eatery owner, Aderick Chong, shared the notice of fine on his Facebook account.

According to Aderick, he was issued the fine on Tuesday night, 22 June despite practising stricter standard operating procedures (SOPs) in his shop and having been closed for the day.

"Just because I have my lights on, my kitchen is not cleaned, and my outgoing shift staff are still around wrapping things up," he wrote in the caption of the Facebook post that carried the notice.

Among the SOPs that Aderick said he practices at his outlet include measures such as two-metre physical distancing for all riders with no riders or customers allowed to use the toilets.

"My staff also cannot balik kampung. If they do, they must go under self-quarantine for 14 days in their villages and take a swab test before returning to work. So why would I flout the rules now?"

At the time of the incident, which occurred at 8pm, Aderick's eatery, KK Food Street, had stopped taking orders at 6.30pm, he claims

Free Malaysia Today reported that prior to the incident, the eatery owner had cooked a one-dish dinner for his staff to eat which they ate separately in the kitchen and was about to close shop.

"Our shop depends 99.9% on online food delivery platforms, which I believe all stop taking orders at 6.30pm. Basically, we were already closed for business at that time," the portal quoted him as saying.

Aderick said that he tried explaining the same to the authorities but was left frustrated.

"All the lights in the shop were switched off except for the kitchen area. When the authorities came, they contended that I was still waiting for (orders from) customers because my kitchen was still in a mess and the food was not stored away. I told them 'no', that there are no customers in Asia City anymore at that time. You can't even order through the food delivery app after 6.30pm and I have also declined requests from people who wanted to drive by and pick up food from my place after 7pm previously," he added.

The daily operating hours in Sabah now are from 7am to 7pm

Aderick explained that after closing for the day, his staff normally cleans up before shutting the outlet but on the night of the incident they finished a bit later due to dinner.

"By 7pm, all the eateries are already closed so that's why I cooked for them — where else can they get food? We were just wrapping up (after dinner) and I couldn't do it earlier because the orders may come in hard and fast from 6pm to 6.30pm. And by the time we finish cooking it could already be 7pm … but the reply I got (from the authorities) was 'don't accept (the orders)'," he said.

"It's not like I can reject the orders that come in the first place. So we try our best to finish up the orders on time but we certainly don’t accept orders after that," Aderick told Free Malaysia Today.

Aderick believes that the authorities may have issued him the fine based on a delivery time of an order that was completed at 7.30pm

"I think that is not our fault as riders can at times pick up and deliver the orders late. The job will only be considered complete after the rider safely delivers the food. But I told the authorities very reasonably and calmly that I'm not doing any more business or taking any further orders but they wouldn't listen," he said.

According to Aderick, he was not at the shop when the last order was picked up.

He said that he will be meeting health officials to explain his case to appeal the RM2,000 fine.

Sometimes, I feel like just paying the fine but RM2,000 is a lot, especially at times like this when we are living on a shoestring budget.
Aderick Chong

Meanwhile, Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has taken note of the case and has called on the authorities to be more considerate

Sabah MTUC secretary Catherine Jikunan, while acknowledging that authorities could just be executing their duties, said that they must display empathy towards the challenges faced by operators.

"Not listening to their reasoning is the same as harassment," she was quoted as saying.

Sabah MTUC secretary Catherine Jikunan.

Image via The Vibes

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