GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government will implement a ban on foreign cooks in hawker stalls to protect their food heritage.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said that hawker licences were only given to the locals but the local council discovered that a few hawkers had employed foreign cooks.
He said the local council was currently gathering feedback from the public on the matter and that the ban could be implemented as soon as early next year.
"We are considering to revoke their hawker licences if they are found to hire foreigners as their main cooks but we need to get public feedback before we proceed with the implementation," he told reporters Saturday.
According to research conducted by the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP), 119 foreigners were working as cooks in 68 hawker centres in Penang Island.
Lim said Penang was famous for its hawker food and the food must retain a local taste instead of a foreign taste.
"It defeats the purpose of approving the hawker licence only for the locals if the hawkers employed foreigners as their main cooks," he said.
He also reminded the hawkers to only employ foreigners as their kitchen helper, waiters or waitresses.
"We will take into consideration the public's needs before proceeding with the implementation," he said.
Over 68 hawker centres were screened during the research, with the majority of the hawker stalls in Bayan Baru, Relau, Jelutong and Tanjung Tokong operated by foreigners. - Bernama