KOTA BARU: The authorities in Kelantan are willing to consider a request by non-Muslim pasar malam traders to be exempted from a ruling to stop business during maghrib prayers.
However, due consideration would be given only in non-Muslim-majority areas, said state Local Government, Housing, Youth and Sports Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Fattah Mahmood.
“We are open to discussion. The ruling was imposed to ensure Muslim traders, hawkers and customers can fulfil their religious obligation.
“Closing will only be for five minutes before prayer time and they can reopen minutes after the prayers,” he told a press conference yesterday.
He said this following criticism against the PAS-led government for the ruling on non-Muslims as well.
On Tuesday, Fattah said that a siren would be triggered 15 minutes before maghrib prayers to allow traders to make the necessary preparations to temporarily close their businesses.
The ruling is to be enforced five minutes before prayer time and lifted about 10 minutes later.
DAP’s Datuk Zaid Ibrahim threatened to challenge the Kelantan local authorities in court for imposing the ruling on non-Muslims.
Kelantan MCA deputy chairman Datuk Tan Ken Ten said non-Muslim traders, hawkers and customers would be inconvenienced by the ruling.
Parti Amanah Negara vice-president Datuk Husam Musa said there should be an exemption for non-Muslims.
Fattah said the ruling was imposed in Kota Baru in 1995 and expanded to other municipalities in 2005 as most pasar malam were located away from prayer venues.
Fattah said religious matters should not be politicised.
He said the non-Muslim community in Kelantan was accustomed to the traditions and customs in the state that placed great emphasis on spiritual development.
“The feedback I received from the non-Muslim community here has been positive. The ruling was imposed during the era of former Mentri Besar the late Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat,” he said.