PENANG Island City Council (MBPP) has revoked licences of 17 hawkers for violating the ban on hiring foreign cooks.
Councillor Ong Ah Teong said 16 hawkers lost their licences in 2016, while another one had his cancelled last year after the ban came into effect in January 2016.
He said the number of warning notices issued to hawkers had also decreased from 47 in 2016 to nine last year.
“All hawkers operating at hawker centres under the council are not allowed to hire foreign cooks at their stalls.
“There was a substantial reduction in the number of hawkers caught hiring foreign cooks,” he said, adding that the ‘hotspots’ where foreign cooks were found were hawker centres in George Town, Batu Lanchang, Bayan Baru and Tanjung Bungah.
Ong said for privately-run coffee shops, foreigners were not allowed to be the principal cooks for 13 local delicacies.
They are asam laksa, char koay teow, loh bak, hokkien mee, curry mee, chee cheong fun, wan tan mee, pasembur, mee sotong, char koay kak, oh chien, koay teow soup and nasi lemak.
A visit by The Star to several prominent hawker centres in Bayan Baru, Sungai Dua, Greenlane, Beach Street, Cecil Street and Batu Lanchang showed that the cooks were locals.
Penang Hawker Association chairman Datuk Lam Tong Ying said many hawkers had complied with the ruling for fear of losing their licences.
“From being the principal cooks, the foreign workers are now serving dishes after the ban was enforced two years ago,” he said.
He added that in a move to cut cost due to ‘slow economy’ in recent years, there was also a reduction in the number of foreign workers helping out at food stalls.
“Local hawkers are behind the wok nowadays, as customers prefer the food to be prepared by locals,” he said.