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Lights out on 24-hour mamak stalls?


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s famous 24-hour mamak stalls and hawker centres may be no more.

A proposal has been submitted to the Government to clamp down on these late night eateries, apparently to curb social ills.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim said the proposal to restrict operating hours to midnight followed complaints that such outlets were the reason for the rise in social ills nationwide.

“A note and proposal paper will be submitted to the Deputy Prime Minister and National Social Council,” he told reporters at Parliament lobby here yesterday.

“It is not a blanket ban on all restaurants or eateries but those in specific areas such as in housing and rural areas.”

Shahidan assured that franchise outlets such as McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken were not included in the ban.

Shahidan noted that in other countries, most eateries and restaurants closed before midnight.

“Malaysia is perhaps the only country in the world where one can find eateries and restaurants open 24 hours.

“But it’s different here due to the presence of many who require the services of this industry, such as tourists, foreign migrants and so on. The leeway has contributed to social ills.

“There are concerns that the young spend too much idle time in such places and get involved in unhealthy activities,” Shahidan added.

Besides being favourite haunts for foreign immigrants, he said such eateries also attracted rats and were noisy.

“There can be specific zones to allow restaurants and eateries to operate to ensure residents are not affected,” he added.

“This effort (curbing social ills) requires the cooperation of the Tourism and Culture Minister, local authorities like Kuala Lumpur City Hall and other parties.”

Shahidan said the issue was also hotly debated on social media, hence the Govern­ment needed to consider the views of the food and entertainment industry players, as their services were required by both domestic and foreign tourists.

Earlier, in the Dewan Negara, Shahidan noted that addiction to the Internet was among the factors why many people spent their night awake rather than sleeping early nowadays.

He was answering a question by Senator Datuk Dr Asyraf Dusuki (BN-Kelantan).

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